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Dodgers season ticket holders ask for say in bankruptcy

September 27, 2011 |  1:05 pm

Fans3
If you paid tens of thousands of dollars for Dodgers season tickets, only to see the team slash prices on the seats right behind you and close the concession stand nearest you, are you entitled to a say in the Dodgers' bankruptcy case?

Yes, according to a motion filed on behalf of several Dodgers season ticket holders in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday. The group includes the family of the late Frank Sinatra, which has held season tickets since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

The motion asks the court to appoint a committee to represent the interests of the approximately 17,000 Dodgers season ticket holders, described as "the real stakeholders" in the case. The Dodgers and the official creditors' committee each have opposed the formation of a committee to represent season ticket holders, according to the filing, and so the U.S. trustee assigned to the case has denied the ticket holders standing "at this time."

The Dodgers have stifled "the basic desire of its most loyal and financially invested fans on whose goodwill they are dependent -- the season ticket holders -- to have a seat at the table in this reorganization," the filing reads.

A hearing is set for Oct. 25.

Robbin Itkin, the Los Angeles attorney representing the season ticket holders, said their interests cannot properly be represented by the committee of creditors.

"Once they're paid, they're fine," Itkin said. "That's all they care about."

In contrast, Itkin said, the value of season tickets could depend upon how the Dodgers get out of bankruptcy -- a television rights sale, a sale of the team, or otherwise -- and how the proceeds are invested.

The filing cited the Dodgers' "actions that may devalue season tickets, including the sale by the [Dodgers] of prime seats for a fraction of the price paid by season ticket holders due to declining attendance at games, or mismanagement such as the closure of needed concession stands and operation of understaffed and inefficient concession stands remaining that causes ticket holders to miss one or more innings while standing in insufferable lines for food."

Itkin acknowledged that fans generally have no right to a say in the operations of a team, other than the right not to renew season tickets. By filing for bankruptcy, Itkin said, the Dodgers have subjected their operations to outside scrutiny.

"All these people have a right to be heard and protected," she said.

The primary concerns of the ticket holders, according to the filing:

"Are funds ... being utilized to provide the season ticket holders the rights and benefits to which they are entitled?

"Are they being used to acquire key players, meet payroll obligations, fund needed renovations and efficiently operate concessions so that the expected season-ticket holder and fan experience can be maintained and the Dodgers' storied history can be preserved? Is the value of season tickets, which season ticket holders have a right to sell, being preserved or adversely affected?"

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Dodgers want hearing on team sale delayed until December

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo: Clayton Kershaw is applauded by fans and congratulated by his teammates following his performance against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 20. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Associated Press

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