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L.A. Times objects to Dodgers' bid to seal conditions of land use

Team says conditions contain 'sensitive non-public commercial information.' Frank McCourt and Dodgers' new owners have agreed to jointly own parking lots at Dodger Stadium.

April 11, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • The Dodgers have asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge for permission to seal files that disclose the conditions that govern land use around Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers have asked a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge for permission to seal… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

The Dodgers should be required to disclose the conditions that govern land use around Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Times argued in a court filing Wednesday.

The Dodgers have asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to file those conditions under seal, citing the "sensitive non-public commercial information" within. Attorneys for The Times argued that the Dodgers have not provided any evidence to support that claim or shown why it should outweigh "the well-established presumption of public access to judicial records."

Frank McCourt agreed last month to sell the Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Management in a $2.15-billion deal under which McCourt and Guggenheim will jointly own the parking lots that surround the stadium. The lots are owned by a McCourt entity that is not part of the bankruptcy filing, so Dodgers attorneys have said that details of the joint venture need not be disclosed in Bankruptcy Court.

In 2008, McCourt announced the "Next 50" stadium renovation plan, disclosing not only what would happen in the ballpark but in the surrounding parking lots, including the construction of parking structures. McCourt failed to secure financing for the plan, but attorneys for The Times argued that the announcement reflected an acknowledgment that fans should be kept informed about possible development of the property.

"The Dodgers recognized that what would happen to the stadium, parking lots, and grounds was of enormous importance to the fans and the 'fan experience' — that is, the fans did not own the land but ought to know how their beloved ballpark would change," attorneys for The Times argued in its filing.

On Monday, Dodgers spokesman Robert Siegfried told The Times that the documents would be filed with Los Angeles County — and thus made available publicly — before the sale closes. The closing is scheduled April 30.

"Even the Dodgers concede that the information they seek to protect here is not sensitive information," attorneys for The Times claimed.

Siegfried was not immediately available for comment.

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