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L.A. rejoices as Frank McCourt agrees to sell Dodgers

November 2, 2011 | 11:05 am

Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles leaders and Dodgers fans reacted with relief and joy to the news that Frank McCourt planned to sell the team.

McCourt had become a divisive figure in Los Angeles over his stewardship of the Dodgers, and there had been a growing push around the city for a change of ownership.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich called the expected sale "a big step forward in restoring a family-friendly baseball franchise for Los Angeles County."

FULL COVERAGE: Dodgers and the McCourts

"Frank McCourt's pathetic legacy from shirking responsibility in the Bryan Stow beating case was further soiled by the inference that Bryan had culpability in his own severe beating," he said.

"As a Dodger fan and an Angeleno, it has been a very, very tough season," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "I can't describe the anguish we felt with the beating of Bryan Stow."

He called current owner Frank McCourt's decision to sell a "new chapter."

"I'm looking forward to local ownership," Villaraigosa said. "I want the owner to be from Los Angeles. I want someone who loves this town and believes in this city."

The new owner would be the third since Peter O'Malley sold the team to News Corp. in 1998. The Dodgers had remained in the O'Malley family since its patriarch, Walter, moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

Bidders could include Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who was a runner-up when the Texas Rangers were auctioned in bankruptcy court last year. Chicago White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert, a former player agent who also bid on the Rangers, is expected to assemble a group to bid on the Dodgers.

Southern California businessmen Ron Burkle, Alec Gores and Alan Casden also could be bidders. Burkle and Gores have ties to professional sports, and Casden pursued the Dodgers before McCourt bough the team.

Other potential suitors include Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner, both of whom live in Los Angeles. Former Dodgers stars Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser also have expressed interest in putting together an investment group to bid on the team.

Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes, whose district includes Chavez Ravine, said the announcement that Frank McCourt would sell the Dodgers is "a new beginning."

"On the one hand I feel relief for the McCourts because they're ending a chapter, a period of their life that has been very difficult. ... They are a family, when all is said and done, that is going through a major, major crisis, and that's ending," Reyes said.

But on the other hand, he said, "It's exciting to see that there's a sense of rebirth, a sense of new beginning, and the possibility of winning a championship."

Reyes said he plans to be among the fans at opening day next year and hopes the "next set of owners or owner will understand the significance of being a good neighbor" to the city.

Lifelong fan Phil Lerner, a Brooklyn native, said he hoped the team can now move forward.

"I feel tremendous relief," he said. "This is one of the oldest teams in baseball. They should not be mired in all these legal troubles."

Jose Salgado, 61, drives a taxi and keeps tabs on the Dodgers during the baseball season by reading about each game the next morning.

Salgado, interviewed while he was parked downtown Wednesday morning, said he thought the announcement was "good for the team" because McCourt has had "too much trouble with his personal situation."

"Taking too much time away from the team," Salgado said of McCourt.


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Photo: Dodger Stadium. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times