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If McCourt wasn't hurting, he's not even talking to Fox, he's starting a Dodgers channel; report says new contract offer is 13 years for $1.6 billion

April 25, 2011 |  6:02 pm

Lk0emrnc Here is a common refrain from Frank McCourt supporters -- yeah, that would be Steve Soboroff -- who keep claiming he’s not broke:

He has a $3-billion, 20-year deal on the table from Fox! Somebody please let the poor man use his big, fat ATM card!

Yeah, well, there are a couple of problems with this make-believe scenario: 1) If McCourt wasn’t broke, he wouldn’t be talking to Fox because the smart thing to do is to start his own channel; 2) Turns out that Fox deal is for more like $1.6 billion over 13 years.

During last spring’s divorce proceedings, it came out that McCourt was eyeing his own Dodgers station, a la the Yankees, where the serious money awaited. This was the big dream and the financially astute road to travel.

Except . . . starting up your own station takes major dinero, which McCourt lacks and cannot get anyone to provide, because his debt ratio has become scary.

That’s the only reason he turned to Fox, his favorite patsy. He had no other choice. Fox loves giving to McCourt. It’s like a sickness. They should have their own special rehab facility.

Fox started its addiction with a sweet deal to sell the club to McCourt (who lacked sufficient cash), continued with its new TV offer and finally hit a new low by giving him a $30-million personal loan without collateral.

Major League Baseball, whose national broadcasting contract is with Fox, was nonetheless seriously irate. We should all thank Fox for its stupidity, since it essentially gave Commissioner Bud Selig his excuse to take over the Dodgers. Fox gave McCourt the loan because Time Warner  had batted its eyelashes at McCourt and Fox feared losing the Dodgers to the cable giant. This despite Fox’s current contract giving it the right to match any competing offer.

MLB took over the Texas Rangers last year, and shortly after the club was sold to Nolan Ryan and his group, the Rangers signed a 20-year, $1.6-billion deal with Fox. Which would be barely more than half of the deal McCourt supposedly had lined up.

Only The Times’ Joe Flint now reports the McCourt-Fox deal is actually more like 13 years for $1.6 million. (Also, Flint  reports the $30-million personal loan was approved by News Corp. President Chase Carey, the man who traded Mike Piazza).

That new  contract is now in limbo as Tom Schieffer takes over as trustee or monitor or warden, and is expected to stay there until McCourt’s current financial dealings are unraveled.

If McCourt wasn’t broke, he’s not even talking to Fox about a new contract, he's busy planning a Dodgers channel. Of course, if McCourt wasn’t broke, he’s not asking for the $30 mil to make payroll. For the second time.

Funny, my ATM requires that real money be behind it.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt arriving at a downtown Los Angeles courthouse for closing arguments in his divorce trial on Sept. 10, 2010. Credit: Nick Ut / AP