Los Angeles Dodgers’ Legal Battles Continue: Fan’s Perspective

It just doesn't end. Just when we thought the Los Angeles Dodgers' sale was moving forward smoothly, a potential obstacle has come up. After the judge in the team's bankruptcy case ruled the Dodgers could auction their media rights now, breaking parts of their current broadcast agreement with Fox Sports, a U.S. District Judge overruled him on December 27 and said the bankruptcy judge made errors in his decision and the Dodgers cannot break the contract and shop the rights prematurely.

Los Angels Dodgers.
Released for public domain

I'm divided on the issue. On one hand, I do agree with Fox that it paid the Dodgers a lot of money for the rights to broadcast the team and to have a certain window of exclusivity to renegotiate that deal. Although it would be beneficial to the Dodgers to be able to sell those media rights now, it's not Fox's fault that they're in bankruptcy, so why should they have to be hurt financially (and I agree they would be). The new broadcast deal is expected to be worth billions of dollars, judging from similar deals, including Fox's recent $3 billion deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The problem is that McCourt and the Dodgers have a signed contract with Fox. As is sometimes done, McCourt is using the bankruptcy to get the court to throw out some of the provisions of the Fox agreement and MLB has supported him. The judge in the bankruptcy case sided with the Dodgers and allowed them to essentially break the Fox contract and begin the negotiation process immediately, instead of waiting until next year, pursuant to the agreement. The new ruling by the U.S. District Judge stops the media rights auction.

The current contract also gives Fox an exclusive window where the team may not take offers from other companies. It also gives Fox the option to match any offers the Dodgers receive, so it's a very powerful deal, and Fox paid the team a lot of money for those rights. If McCourt can auction the media rights now, he can use that to drive up the price of the team, showing the huge payday awaiting the new owner. The current sale plan is to start taking offers from potential buyers in mid-January with a decision coming from the league by April 1. The sale is supposed to be concluded by April 30.

Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia, which didn't make being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan easy. He has lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, now able to follow the Dodgers openly and attends games frequently. You can follow him on Twitter -@thefredsherman.

More from this contributor:

Fan perspective: Will Ron Burkle buy the Dodgers?

Will Chinese investors buy the Dodgers? Local fan reaction

Fan's opinion: Frank McCourt bankrupts the Dodgers

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Updated Wednesday, Dec 28, 2011