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Bud Selig on Dodgers' bankruptcy: 'We will work our way through all these things'

The baseball commissioner can't talk specifically because of pending litigation, but he does allude to the team's future without Frank McCourt as the owner.

July 12, 2011|By Bill Shaikin

Reporting from Phoenix — The Dodgers might not emerge from Bankruptcy Court for months, but Commissioner Bud Selig alluded Tuesday to the future of the team without Frank McCourt as its owner.

Selig avoided speaking directly about McCourt, but the commissioner recalled hearing last year how bad the Texas Rangers' bankruptcy would be for baseball. The Rangers were sold in a Bankruptcy Court auction.

"It didn't turn out terrible," Selig said. "They wound up getting a great price and a wonderful ownership group. We will work our way through all these things."

Selig is determined to oust McCourt and has not heard from any other owner concerned enough about the costs and risks of the bankruptcy fight to suggest yielding to McCourt, according to someone who has spoken with him but could not be identified because of the litigation. Selig has no intention of considering any settlement under which McCourt would retain ownership, the person said.

The baseball season is at its halfway point, but the Dodgers have exhausted the $35 million owed them this season by Fox, according to a court filing Tuesday.

The filing listed the Dodgers' projected income and expenses through the end of the season. The Dodgers are owed $1.277 million per month from KCAL but nothing from Fox, according to the documents.

Fox last winter provided McCourt with a $25-million cash advance toward this season's payments. McCourt has said that Selig's refusal to approve a proposed new contract with Fox prompted him to seek short-term financing and ultimately forced the team into bankruptcy.

The Dodgers pay $1.167 million per month — or $14 million per year — to one of the McCourt entities that has not filed for bankruptcy. McCourt's attorneys have said he could retain ownership of Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots even if he loses control of the Dodgers, a position disputed by Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers have paid $325,000 to retain the law firm representing them in Bankruptcy Court, according to the filing.

In a meeting with the Baseball Writers Assn. of America, Selig cited the litigation in declining to speak directly about McCourt, and about the Dodgers saga.

"There are a lot of things I'd like to say, but I won't," Selig said.

Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players' union, said he was concerned with the Dodgers' situation. He said the union was confident that current and former players will be paid in full but wanted to ensure the Dodgers' ability to win would not be compromised during the bankruptcy process.

"We want the Dodgers' players to have the best chance to compete," Weiner said. "This is the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most storied franchises in professional sport, not just in Major League Baseball.

"It's not good for anybody in MLB for the Dodgers to struggle, to be compromised, to be crippled, whatever word you want to use."

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