Could end be near for Frank McCourt and Dodgers' mess?
You know that out-there Christian radio broadcaster who keeps predicting the end of the world every six months? I’m starting to feel like him. Pray for me.
Because really, this finally has to be the last go-round for Frank McCourt, doesn’t it? Am I thinking with my heart, or did he not just play his best, last card?
This is supposed to be the McCourt game-changer, the one thing that can enable him to get out of debt and return the Dodgers to profitability –- signing a new media rights deal.
On Friday, the Dodgers asked the bankruptcy court for permission to sell their television rights, beginning with a 45-day exclusive negotiating window with Fox, and then if needed an auction.
It’s now-or-never time for McCourt. If the court allows him to proceed with selling the TV rights, then it’s already de facto approved the winning bid.
Which then puts the onus back on Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to approve the TV deal, which he has already indicated he will not do. Which would force yet another trial? Now a bankruptcy court is going to tell the franchiser how to conduct its business with its franchisees?
The bankruptcy court’s main charge is to make sure creditors are paid. But this is a somewhat unusual case, because there is no doubt they all will be, it’s just whether it’s by McCourt or a new owner.
If the court is looking at best long-term interest of the creditors, however, then McCourt could still be in real trouble. Remember, McCourt still has two years remaining on his current rights deal with Fox. He is mortgaging part of the team’s future to pay off current mismanagement.
Fox is supposed to have exclusive negotiating rights deal for another year, so in effect McCourt is asking the court to override his contract with Fox and reward him for his horrific management of the team by allowing him to open negotiations with any interested party to obtain an even richer deal!
How does that fly? Court, please let me have some of my 2014 money now because I’ve so seriously screwed up things the last few years, it’s the only way I can survive. My degree isn’t in economics, but that sounds like a strange way to do business to me.
If the court rejects his request, McCourt is really getting down to it. About the only thing left is to try to sell a minority interest in the team. It seems late in the game for that, and there would likely be another Selig roadblock there. And what right-thinking businessman would want to become a minority partner to bankrupt McCourt?
No one questions that the media rights deal is valuable. But they shouldn’t be rushed and sweetened because of financial negligence. They should be made available to an owner of the Dodgers who will best take the team into the future, for creditors and fans alike –- the next owner.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Frank McCourt leaves a courthouse in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday following a closed-door meeting with the judge in his divorce case. Credit: Jason Redmond / Associated Press