Frank McCourt's Parking Lots Problem

Joe Torre and Rick Caruso are the latest potential owners to bow out of the bidding for the Dodgers. The reason? Frank McCourt is refusing to include the parking lots around Dodger Stadium in the sale of the organization. Is this shrewd business or pure greed?

Cross another name or two off the list. Bill Shaikin of the LA Times is reporting that the ownership group headed by Joe Torre and Rick Caruso has removed itself from the bidding to buy the team after Frank McCourt has expressed reluctance to include the parking lots in the sale.

This comes just a day after reports surfaced that Peter O'Malley, former owner of the club, dropped out of the bidding. O'Malley, whose father moved the team to LA in 1958, said he believed he would not be awarded the club even if his bid was the highest.

That brings the latest round of approved bidders from 11 to 9. Still, there are plenty of powerful groups competing for ownership of the franchise. Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten seem to be favorites, with other groups headed by people like Stan Kroenke, Steve Cohen, Stanley Gold and the Disney family, among others.

So why is McCourt hanging onto the parking lots? It's hard to say. The deal should provide him with more than enough to cover his considerable debt load (more than half a billion dollars) and pay his estranged wife $131 million in their divorce settlement. And that's without including the parking lots. The biggest draw for prospective owners is the expiration of the club's well-below market broadcasting deal after the 2013 season. That would allow the new owner to explore renewing the deal with Fox Sports at a much more lucrative rate, seek out other cable providers or even start their own regional sports network.

It seems that it would simply be a matter of convenience to severe ties with McCourt completely, not having to worry about him raising costs or making any demands. Sole ownership of the Dodgers and all its properties makes things easier. But since when has McCourt made anything easy?

McCourt was sarcastically referred to as the "Parking Lot King" in Boston before the bought the Dodgers. Apparently he's trying to retain that moniker, regardless of what it does to his reputation.