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Fan’s opinion: Frank McCourt bankrupts the Dodgers
June 27 will be remembered by Los Angeles Dodgers fans, like me, forever as one of the darkest days of this storied franchise. It's the day owner Frank McCourt filed for bankruptcy protection.
The Dodgers are bankrupt.
The team isn't bankrupt because of poor attendance, bad playing or a lack of fans. The team is bankrupt due to the mis-management and excessive borrowing of owner Frank McCourt. As has been revealed by an ongoing investigation by MLB, McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie, who was the CEO of the team and lived a lavish, blinged-out lifestyle even most rap stars would envy.
They financed the initial purchase of the team with debt and loans, then took a hit when the economy dropped and the value of the mostly real estate assets they put up as collateral also fell. Revenues that did come in were diverted and spent on beach houses, private jets and even a job for their son. A job that paid $300,000 a year, yet apparently never required him to show up for work, according to Dodger insiders. The second hit was the McCourt's divorce, which happened in December 2010 and has really created drama for the entire 2011 season.
McCourt faces a $30 million payroll at the end of June and it was believed he could not make it without a bailout. McCourt negotiated a huge renewal deal of the Dodgers' broadcasting rights with Fox that would have paid McCourt $385 million upfront, which he claimed to be key to the team's financial future. But MLB denied the deal on June 20, with Commission Bud Selig essentially saying he didn't trust McCourt with the money. It was also revealed that of the $385 million, $200 million would have immediately been skimmed off the top and paid to Jamie McCourt and the McCourt's lawyers, instead of going to team expenses, improvement or simply supporting ticket price levels.
It now seems McCourt has $150 million in bridge or temporary financing in place that would allow him to meet the end-of-June payroll and maintain control of the team. McCourt would rather have control of team and deal with the bankruptcy court and their rules than have MLB seize control, and have to react to that move.
Like the New York Yankees, the Dodgers are more than a Los Angeles team; they are an American team, a symbol of the game and country, and Frank McCourt has trashed this. As a fan, it's just disgusting to me and all I can do is boycott the games and show my feelings with my wallet.
What does it mean for fans? It means confusion, uncertainty and probably bad things. Another scary thought is if Frank McCourt doesn't pay the players due salaries on June 30, they automatically become free agents, which could literally mean the end of the team as we all know it.
Hey, Frank, if you read this article, do baseball fans a favor: admit defeat, stop fighting and work with MLB to sell the team and get your money. Fans like me want you to get paid and move on, and if you did that, you would instantly change from a villain to a hero in our eyes. Who wouldn't want to do that?
F. Michael 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.
Bill Shaiken "Dodgers bankruptcy: Frank McCourt says Bud Selig forced the move" Los Angeles Times via latimes.com
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