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Friday, April 13, 2012

McCourt Gets Court Approval; It's Still a Little Sickening





        By Ross Newhan

        The federal bankruptcy court in Delaware approved the $2.15 billion sale of the Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Partners on Friday, leaving Frank McCourt with about $1 billion and a share of the parking lot.

         Do I vomit now or later?

         The agreement basically clears McCourt's creditors, leaves him with enough luxury real estate to open his own brokerage and allows him to pay off Jamie McCourt's $131 million divorce settlement out of loose change--and musn't she be furious that she didn't wait for the club to be sold before settling?

         McCourt?         

        This is a man who was allowed to leverage his $430 million purchase of the Dodgers and conducted a revolving door of front office personnel.

       The caliber of those who left--some in haste and some only after learning it was impossible to work for the McCourts--is exemplified by Bob Graziano, who is now Managing Partner of Northern Trust, Derrick Hall, who is now president of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Camille Johnston, who is now Communications Director for Michelle Obama and assistant to the President.

      In addition, McCourt decimated attendance over time, stripped Dodger Stadium security and quite possibly made only one lasting contribution to the future of this one-time flagaship franchise.

      That was his eight year, $160 million signing of Matt Kemp, whose contract is clearly a bargain compared to some of the contracts that have followed and who continues--in the first week of the new season-- to emerge as the game's best all-around player.

     Only time will determine how Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson pick up the pieces and move forward.

    The stadium needs renovating, the team needs strengthening and it isn't clear yet what the new owners--in what can only be termed as a disturbing partnership with McCourt--have in mind for the parking lot, atlhough that should become clearer soon.

     Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross approved the sale only after a long day of arguments between attorneys for Gugenheim and Major League Baseball, with the baseball attorney's asking for three days to review the terms of the parking lot agreement, and Gross finally ruling in favor of the sale and actually congratulating McCourt on "seeing the big picture." As a Phillies fan, the judge said in conclusion that he hoped the Dodgers wouldn't sign Cole Hamels, who is eligible for free agency after this season.                     

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