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McCourt Gives Up Land

February 28, 2006|Greg Johnson | Times Staff Writer

As expected, Frank McCourt has agreed to turn over 24 acres of Boston land to News Corp. in a deal that clears a $145-million loan obligation and ends the media giant's direct involvement with the Dodgers.

McCourt and News Corp., in a statement issued Monday, said the Dodger owner "has agreed to sell the property in the Seaport District of Boston to News Corporation." With the transaction, the statement said, McCourt "has fulfilled all obligations incurred with the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers ..."

McCourt and News Corp. on Monday declined to discuss the specific financial terms of the deal.

Word that McCourt intended to settle his obligation by handing over the land surfaced early in January. Many in the Boston development industry were surprised that McCourt would agree to surrender land he held for 25 years. But McCourt said this month that he had relocated his Boston-based development business to Southern California.

McCourt used the land near the Boston waterfront as collateral for a short-term, $145-million loan that News Corp. made to him two years ago when he acquired the Dodgers for $421 million.

McCourt bought most of the land 25 years ago for less than $8.5 million. He had used the land as collateral for a separate $36-million loan, and also had agreed to pay about $22 million for an adjacent parcel. News Corp. will assume those financial obligations.

Though News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment Group subsidiary continues as the team's long-term television partner, the transaction signals the company's exit from the baseball business it entered in 1998 by purchasing the Dodgers from the O'Malley family for $311 million. Fox failed to turn a profit with the team for several years before selling it, along with land at Chavez Ravine and other properties, to McCourt.

News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher said the media company intends to hold onto the land. The company will work with a developer to build out the property that, for years, has been used for parking lots. "We'll be talking to Boston City Hall very soon," Butcher said.

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