McCourt Talking to Commissioner's Office

One might think Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has been called into the principal's office and that Bud Selig has responded to the outcry from Dodgers fans all over the country. However, it was McCourt that asked for the meeting feeling that the commissioner might be considering options that could complicate McCourt's ability to retain control of the team after 15 months of ugly divorce proceedings.

McCourt didn't meet with the commissioner himself, only other officials January 3-4-5 according to a source not authorized to talk about the the proceedings.

McCourt may be feeling some of the heat because he requested the meeting. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told the Los Angeles Times he could not discuss — or even confirm — the meetings. McCourt had no comment, according to his spokesman, Steve Sugerman.

During the three days, McCourt outlined his legal and financial plans for retaining control of the Dodgers after a court last month threw out a marital property agreement that would have granted him sole ownership of the Dodgers, meaning McCourt almost certainly would have to pay his ex-wife Jamie a huge amount of money in addition to managing a steep debt in order to keep the team.

It is uncertain the agenda McCourt proposed, but some feel he could get hundreds of millions of dollars by either negotiating a new television contract with Fox or selling a minority share of the Dodgers, then using the proceeds to settle his divorce. However, McCourt has insisted he has no plan to sell any share of ownership.

On the other hand, Selig could reject any television contract or partnership agreement. After court documents in the divorce trial revealed how the McCourts diverted millions in team revenue each year for personal use, Selig could cite grounds that such money should be used to improve the team rather than to pay off an ex-wife, one official said. Selig could also refuse McCourt the short-term financing available to owners from MLB.

Whether such actions could pressure McCourt to the point of putting the team up for sale, is unclear or whether McCourt would take legal action to stop any such moves, or how any decisions Selig might consider would be affected by Jamie McCourt's contention that she owns half the team, an action that will probably keep the estranged couple in the courtroom for months to come.

The owner of another MLB club said it would be unlikely that Frank McCourt could rally other owners behind him — and against Selig — should the commissioner decide to act.

"I can't imagine one vote going against Bud on anything having to do with the Dodgers," said the owner, who declined to identified himself to the Los Angeles Times because Selig has not authorized him to speak on the issue.

According to court documents, the Dodgers' parent company had $433 million in long-term debt and $619 million in total liabilities as of September 2009, and McCourt was rejected at least three times that year in trying to secure additional financing.

The Dodgers have increased in value from the $430 million McCourt paid to buy them in 2004 to an estimated $727 million last year, according to Forbes magazine.

If the court finds the Dodgers are community property, Jamie McCourt would be entitled to half their value. If the court ultimately decides the Dodgers belong to Frank McCourt, Jamie likely would be entitled to a portion of the increase in value, as the former president and chief executive officer of the team.

The plot continues to thicken and as Sherlock Holmes would have said, "The plot continues to thicken."

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