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The sale of the Dodgers: Let's get it on

January 11, 2012 |  1:24 pm

DodgerslogoPigs fly, paper towels aren’t shrinking, Chelsea Handler goes demure, Tim Tebow becomes an atheist, Frank McCourt ends lawsuits.

Not all lawsuits, of course -– there does remain that little hiccup concerning his botched post-marital agreement -- just the ones preventing a timely sale of the Dodgers.

But the news Wednesday that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross had approved McCourt's settlements with Fox Sports and Major League Baseball, appears to be the final hurdle before to the auctioning off of the team.

Somehow, still hard to believe. We’ve been so bombarded by unexpected legal challenges and appeals and countersuits and judicial delays that even when the coast appears clear it’s difficult to peer into the Dodgers future without expecting to be flattened by an unforeseen lawsuit.

Yet on this day, at this moment, there is nothing to prevent the scheduled sale of the team. Not an ugly divorce. Not filing for bankruptcy. Not arguing over media rights.

Bids on the team are due in less than two weeks (Jan. 23). Major League Baseball will then approve up to 10 bidders, though the time frame for its approval hasn’t been released. Then McCourt has until April 1 to choose the next Dodgers owner, which is presumably the one with the highest offer, and until the end of the month to hand over the keys.

It’s getting down to it now. All these groups who truly want in on the Dodgers are about to be separated from the dreamers and the publicity whores.

There appear to be enough of the super rich interested that McCourt is going to come away from this much wealthier than any would have imagined a year ago.

And this is a man with some staggering debt. MLB estimates the club and its entities are close to $600 million in debt. Then there’s that $150-million loan from MLB, what could be close to $200 million in income tax liabilities and $131 million he owes in a divorce settlement (due April 30). That’s a little more than $1 billion.

Which would explain why The Times’ Bill Shaikin reported that McCourt apparently turned up his nose at an offer of $1.2 billion from Fox during mediation.

Now, a team that Forbes last estimated to be worth $800 million could double the record price for a ball club. The Cubs (plus Wrigley Field and a 25% interest in Comcast Sports Net) were $845 million in 2009.

Now it's really the Dodgers' turn. Get on with it. Also, pigs can fly.


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-- Steve Dilbeck