McCourt Borrows from Fox to Cover Expenses

A judge in the dispute between Frank McCourt and his former wife over ownership of the Dodgers finalized his decision that their marital property agreement is invalid after he had given both sides time to lodge objections to his Dec. 7 ruling and the L.A. Times has reported that he has borrowed money from Fox to meet expenses.

The couple battled over the marital agreement they signed in 2004. Gordon's ruling allows Jamie McCourt to seek half of the Los Angeles Dodgers after she was ousted by her ex-husband as the team's CEO in October 2009.

Now the Los Angeles Times has reported that Frank has borrowed money from Fox to help cover the team's current operating expenses, according to an individual close to the situation. McCourt had no comment on the story.

It is unclear if the Dodgers are in financial trouble, but the story by Bill Shaken quoted a sports industry consultant who said the timing was curious, given that team expenses are lower out of season than during the season.

The Dodgers revenue in 2010 was $279 million and it is projected at $287 million this year, according to court documents. Fox owes the Dodgers $35 million for television rights this year, $37 million next year and $39 million in 2013, according to the documents.

Sources say McCourt has discussed a new television deal with Fox, one that would extend the company's rights to broadcast Dodgers games and provide him with the nine-figure sum most likely necessary to settle his divorce case.

However, Commissioner Bud Selig may reject any such deal. McCourt outlined his legal and financial strategy last week in meetings with Selig's lieutenants, without receiving assurances of support.

David Carter, director of the USC Sports Business Institute told Shaken, "The uncomfortable thing for him is that perception is reality. Whether it's rumors that people are lining up to buy the team, or whether he is trying to get partners, any of that dialogue undermines his ability to control and run the team. That includes the perception that Major League Baseball might try to get involved.

"What you're talking about is a much bigger issue, and that is whether the other owners want to see the Dodgers — the Dodger brand — in Frank's hands."

Dodger Blue Notes --Discussing the void in left field, many have suggested that Casey Blake might fill the bill with the solution to the third base position easier to fill. Several years ago he saw significant outfield time with the Cleveland Indians but struggled, making 11 errors in 231 games, mostly in right field. Another solution would be Tony Gwynn, an excellent outfielder but who has fallen on hard times at the plate. General manager Ned Colletti said Gwynn's speed and defensive ability were strong enough that if he can return to form offensively -- he hit just .204 for San Diego last year -- he could wind up as the regular center fielder, with Matt Kemp moving to right field and Andre Ethier to left. "A couple of years ago, he hit pretty well," Colletti said of Gwynn, who batted a career-high .270 for the Padres in 2009. "He is a very good defensive player who has speed. His playing time at this point will be dictated by how well he hits. If he can get on base enough and hit enough, he could give us added flexibility because he can play all three spots, including center field." Other options are Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul. And although Manny Ramirez is being courted by Texas, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Toronto and the Angels, and says "I still have a lot of baseball left in me. I think that I can still bat if I keep myself healthy, and it is less probable to have an injury playing as the designated hitter," but new Dodgers manager Don Mattingly politely nixed the idea that he would be an option by the Dodgers. "I don't think Manny would fit into our picture," he said.

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