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Dodgers are paying rent on property they own

Aug 18, 2010, 12:46 AM EDT

We know everyone is crabby over in Dodgerland. Reading this story from the Los Angeles Times isn’t going to make anyone happier.

The Dodgers have talked about creative ways their Chavez Ravine property could generate revenue for ownership. One such deal, a head-scratcher, is already in place: The team has been charging itself rent — $14 million this year — on Dodger Stadium property it owns.

Yes that’s right. The Dodgers are paying themselves rent on property they own. And if you think $14 million is a lot for rent – even if you actually had a landlord to pay it to – you’d be right. According to the Times, the White Sox paid $1.4 million in rent this season, and the Brewers and Mariners each paid $900,000. The Red Sox, who own Fenway Park, do not pay any rent at all. Imagine that.

Court records show that the Dodgers have amassed a $24 million surplus via this method, and have not touched it even while cutting their player payroll from $118.5 million in 2008 to $102 million this season.

Jamie McCourt’s lawyers are saying that this allows Frank McCourt to “work around restrictions on receiving cash directly from team coffers.” Frank McCourt’s lawyer says “Tidbits reported in the media from divorce court filings do not tell a full story. And while members of the news media continue to find interest in the divorce proceedings, fans care about winning and having a great experience at the ballpark. That’s where their focus is. That’s where our focus is.”

Nice attempt at distraction.

There is some talk about the team using that money to pay off debt – which makes some sense – and to pay construction managers, which I suppose would make sense if the Dodgers were actually doing any construction work.

Needless to say, the Dodgers are a mess in the front office. From paying $400,000 to an executive who runs a $1.6 million charity, to spending lavishly on personal expenses while cutting spending on the draft and international-player signings, the McCourts have made a fine mess of things.

At least Dodgers fans can find some consolation in the divorce bringing all of this to light. Now they just have to pray that the McCourt split leads to a sale of the team. Otherwise … well let’s try not to think about that.

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  1. beezo - Aug 18, 2010 at 2:13 AM

    As a die hard Dodger fan, all of these stories about how McCourt is spending Dodger money really depress me. He is completely exploiting the largest market in the NL, and I’m hoping other Dodger fans begin to realize this too. With a city like Los Angeles, the largest capacity of any stadium in baseball, and 13 dollar beers, you would think the front office would spend a little money on improving a team that could certainly be WS contenders with a little help. The minor trade-deadline deals the Dodgers made were too little too late, and those needs were evident before the season started; I can only hope that the team is sold to an owner who makes the most of the potential the Dodgers have.

  2. Paper Lions - Aug 18, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    What makes anyone think the McCourt’s are unique in this fashion? If not for the divorce, none of this would be public. Is it not safe to say that similar practices occur for many teams? Owners of sports teams seem to be very good at hiding profits while painting their much more talented and much less rich employees as greedy.

  3. BC - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    I checked, it’s 8 bucks for a beer at Dodger Stadium. Ridiculous, but not unthinkable. It was 6.50 or 6.75 at Citi Field. There’s an open-air concert venue near where I live that charges $9 and $15 for a regular and large beer respectively. Just a cost of going to the event.
    I guess if you want beer that badly, mow down your 6 of Bud before the game, then nurse one or two through the game.

  4. willmose - Aug 18, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Wow this is breaking news? The Dodgers have been doing this since they built Dodger Stadium in 1964. During the strike in 1994 the Dodgers were listed as MLB team that was losing money. Why? Because they were paying $10 million in rent to themselves! This news is so-o-o-o-o old that is only a surprise to those who follow MLB by looking at boxscores.

  5. Jimee Johnson - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    The decline of the Dodgers is not unprecedented. Still, what the heck happened to this team?

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