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DODGERS BANKRUPTCY

Bryan Stow beating may be cited as evidence in Dodgers bankruptcy

MLB might point to the beating of Bryan Stow as evidence of inadequate security at Dodger Stadium and general mismanagement by Frank McCourt.

October 25, 2011|By Bill Shaikin
  • An image of Bryan Stow and his children is displayed on a big screen before a San Francisco Giants game in April. Stow was severely beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot following the team's season opener on March 31.
An image of Bryan Stow and his children is displayed on a big screen before… (Beck Diefenbach / Reuters )

Bryan Stow is in a rehabilitation facility in the San Francisco Bay Area, seven months removed from the Dodger Stadium parking lot beating that nearly cost him his life. However, amid the legal and financial fine points of the Dodgers bankruptcy, Stow could emerge as a pivotal figure in the case at a crucial hearing next week.

Stow won't be there, but with his representatives sitting on the official committee of creditors, attorneys for the Dodgers and Major League Baseball are expected to refer to Stow in their arguments in a Delaware courtroom.

Commissioner Bud Selig has alleged mismanagement in wanting to oust Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. In turn, McCourt has accused Selig of acting in bad faith, in part by choking off his money supply and precipitating the bankruptcy filing.

TIMELINE: The Dodgers and the McCourts

Each side used Stow in stating their case in court filings this week. The league said the aftermath of the Stow incident revealed how inadequate stadium security was on McCourt's watch; the team said that aftermath revealed how low Selig would stoop to drive its owner out of the league.

"He set about fabricating the public misimpression that security at Dodger Stadium was somehow inadequate," the Dodgers' filing read. "This is, by far, the most unforgivable action taken by the commissioner during this entire saga, and has caused enormous and irreparable harm to the Dodgers, Mr. McCourt and the game of baseball."

The Dodgers argued that Selig did not announce a six-man task force to review Dodger Stadium security until after the team had agreed to add Los Angeles Police Department reinforcements on stadium property and to retain former L.A. Police Chief William Bratton to develop a long-term security plan.

"In short, the Dodgers were clearly on top of the situation," the team filing read.

MLB's filing cited other alleged deficiencies in stadium security, including inadequate lighting in the stadium parking lots, a front office lacking executives experienced in ballpark operations and security and "the ease of unauthorized access to the stadium."

Two days after Stow was beaten, and two weeks before Selig appointed the task force, the Dodgers drew their smallest crowd in eight years for a weekend home game against the Giants. The crowds remained small — the Dodgers' attendance dropped 18% this season — and the team blamed Selig for trumpeting his dispatch of a security task force and a trustee to Dodger Stadium within six days in April.

"Not surprisingly, the commissioner's one-two punch … was followed by a dramatic reduction in attendance at Dodger games," the Dodgers' filing read. "That drop in attendance reduced revenues and, of course, worsened [the Dodgers'] already difficult liquidity situation."

The league argued that McCourt's problems were of his own making, saying he "fabricates an absurd story about a 'furious' commissioner out to harm him."

For the first time, the league put a specific number on the amount it alleges McCourt took out of the team for personal use — $189.16 million. In a statement, the Dodgers called that allegation unsupported.

In all, the league alleged McCourt had broken 10 MLB rules — any of them grounds for termination of his franchise.

TIMELINE: The Dodgers and the McCourts

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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