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In this divorce, it will be Dodgers' fans that get hurt the most

The pending McCourt proceedings mean a split of assets and the future of the team, stadium improvements and the payroll all thrown into chaos.

October 28, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

You own the Dodgers, a Los Angeles treasure, as good as it gets while seated in the owner's box and looking out at the adoring fans filling the outfield seats.

You relish the attention, champagne poured over Frank McCourt's head, USA Today doing a full-length profile on Jamie McCourt -- proud to say, Size O.

The Mayor is a regular visitor, Kobe during the playoffs, the Boston Parking Lot Attendant a whole lot more in L.A., and Frank's Old Lady almost always introduced as the highest-ranking woman in baseball.

You're so lucky if not fortunate, and how many people wish they could be in your places, folks lining up here to pass out awards to the power couple with amazing regularity, just a few weeks ago Tiger Woods singling out the Mrs. for his top foundation honor.

But now this, a TMZ smorgasbord of smut, a 911 call, a wife fearing her husband of more than 29 years, the police on site, or not as he says, reports the Dodgers' former director of protocol is her new romantic interest, a divorce filing, already a request for $2 million in divorce attorney fees and Dodgers' fans about to be dragged through the whole mess.

There is nothing unusual in divorce anymore, the expectation here from the start, though, that two people purported to be so smart would take care of their differences in private.

I also thought the Dodgers and Angels would meet in the World Series.

Tuesday's news the McCourts are headed for a divorce leads now to an obvious conclusion: The Dodgers will have a new owner.

The suspicion here has always been the McCourts were highly leveraged in their business dealings and stretched financially as a twosome, Jamie confirming as much in her divorce declaration.

Now they will be splitting their finances in half, the future of the team, stadium improvements and the payroll probably going to be someone else's prize/headache when all the mudslinging and courtroom decisions have finally been rendered.

OK, so best-case scenario, as either one of them might protest and one of them takes sole ownership of the Dodgers once their split becomes final.

But whether it's Frank or Jamie who gets the team, there is no way the other party is going to walk away without equal value in return.

Jamie's court filings suggest the twosome's estate is worth $1.2 billion and the Dodgers' value is placed at $800 million. Fifty-fifty, as California insists, and you do the math.

The guy who owned the Padres insisted he was going to hang on to the team when his marriage ended in divorce -- just like Frank -- but ultimately he had to sell to meet his 50-50 financial obligations with his ex-wife.

But for the sake of argument, let's say one of the McCourts ends up getting the Dodgers. He or she will undoubtedly have little left to make the costly upgrades that will be required to keep an aging Dodger Stadium appealing to the public.

The McCourts previously announced plans to spend $500 million beyond center field on shops and restaurants to draw folks to Dodger Stadium year-round. They also said they were going to spend millions on restrooms and concession upgrades, but all plans have been placed on hold.

Without an improved Dodger Stadium -- no matter who owns the team -- it's going to be a struggle to compete with baseball's top franchises.

Cash will be needed to sign high-priced free agents to play in the entertainment capital, Jamie probably saying the same thing right now as most free agents: "Show me the money, Frank."

With a pending divorce, do the Dodgers spend money this off-season to improve the team? That's the problem with divorce, the fans get hurt the most.

There has been talk Jamie is putting together a team of investors to own the Dodgers, as laughable as her suggestion that money directed to free agents should be spent on more Little League fields.

What millionaire or billionaire, smart enough to make the money to become a millionaire or billionaire, is going to hand over a chunk of their wealth to Jamie McCourt to run the Dodgers?

What does she know about running the Dodgers? Maybe she calls on her new companion, identified in one of the divorce documents as Jamie's driver, to advise her. But haven't we already gone down this road with Georgia Frontiere?

Frank, always the man from Boston with the penchant for highfalutin gab, is making the case California law requiring a 50-50 split does not apply here. A judge, and I wonder if he will be a Dodgers' fan, will probably have the final say on that.

Frank makes the case in his declaration husband and wife kept separate business interests and he has a document showing he is sole owner of the Dodgers.

"To the extent that Jamie has occasionally identified herself as (or been identified as) a 'co-owner' of the Dodgers in the press," McCourt writes in his declaration, "I have permitted such statements in the interests of family harmony."

As you might have noticed, family harmony is no longer a consideration, McCourt writing that her claims as co-owner "have been detrimental to the Dodgers, my other business ventures and me personally."

In somewhat of a surprise, he didn't say her claim as co-owner led to the Dodgers losing to the Phillies.

As for Jamie, the nickname "Screaming Meanie" seemingly tailor-made for someone filing for divorce, she not only wants her job back as CEO, but $320,967 a month as well. Or $487,634 a month if not rehired -- very little fabric to Size O dresses, but apparently very costly.

She also wants use of the swimming pool in one of their houses eight hours a day, never too late, I guess, to make a bid for the Olympics.

The bickering is just beginning, but once concluded, more than likely someone else will be fulfilling the dream to be the owner of the Dodgers.

For better or worse.


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