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Frank McCourt could lose the Dodgers but remain their landlord

May 9, 2011, 8:46 AM EST

File photo of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaking at a news conference about increased security at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

Remember how Frank McCourt, upon buying the Dodgers, split the team’s assets up into multiple different businesses and holding companies and things?  Yeah, that couldn’t even lead to a depressing outcome. Bill Shaikin:

When McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004, the purchase included the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots. He has since divided those assets among separate companies, providing the embattled Dodgers owner with a possible claim to the stadium and the land even if he loses the team … In theory, McCourt could sell the Dodgers, then make more money from renting the stadium to the new owner, taking a cut of parking revenue and reaping the benefits of future development within the parking lots.

This reminds me of Wayne Huizenga and the Florida Marlins. Whereas McCourt has screwed up the Dodgers via ineptitude, Huizenga just burned the Marlins down following their 1997 World Series championship. Then, after selling the team, he held on to huge chunks of team parking and concession revenues because those things were separate from the ballclub itself.  And there was (Is? Does Wayne still have this stuff?) nothing more depressing to Marlins fans than knowing that the guy who destroyed a championship team was making more money off the Marlins than the Marlins were.

Unlike Florida, however, there could be obstacles to McCourt serving as the Dodgers’ landlord. For one thing his ex-wife will claim a stake in all of those ancillary interests, so she will either have to be bought out of them or else will they will have to be sold, with the most likely bidder being whoever ends up buying the team (and anyone who wants the club will almost certainly want the stadium too).

Shaikin also suggests that Major League Baseball could say something about it, but it’s not quite clear to me how that’s possible given that their rules apparently don’t prohibit busting up team assets like that and their authority seems to extend to management of the club, not management of the owners’ assets.

My hope is that McCourt can’t hold onto the ballpark and parking lots because he’s too leveraged to do so. Given his track record, it’s probably a reasonable hope.

  1. Old Gator - May 9, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    That’s okay by me. The Dodgers would hardly be the only ones in the world with an asshole for a landlord – small price to pay for ridding themselves of an asshole for an owner.

  2. mrznyc - May 10, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    Between the Dodgers and the Mets there is almost 2 billion in debt – Both teams are owned by real estate guys – Maybe there’s a lesson there.

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