The Dodgers stand along the third baseline before the start of Tuesday's… (Harry How / Getty Images )
On the eve of the anticipated approval of the Dodgers' sale, the team appeared to resolve a potentially significant hurdle.
In a court filing Thursday, the Dodgers said Fox Sports would get confirmation from the new owners that Time Warner Cable would not be directly or indirectly involved in the purchase of the team.
The court is expected to approve the sale in a hearing Friday. A Fox spokesman declined to comment.
Under its settlement with the Dodgers, Fox had the right to challenge any sale in which rival Time Warner Cable was involved. The Dodgers already had told the court that TWC was not involved, but Fox asked for assurances from the new owners.
According to Thursday's filing, the new owners would state for the court record that TWC is not directly or indirectly funding the purchase of the Dodgers and that no "formal or informal agreements have been reached with TWC to telecast [Dodgers] games for the 2014 MLB season or beyond." U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross would then include that language in his order approving the sale.
The Dodgers' current contract with Fox Sports expires after the 2013 season, and a Fox executive has testified that the loss of the Dodgers could jeopardize the viability of Prime Ticket.
Fox, TWC and perhaps CBS are expected to bid for a contract that could be worth up to $5 billion — if, that is, the new owners opt not to launch a team-owned regional sports network.
In their filing Thursday, the Dodgers said they had not resolved a dispute with Major League Baseball over who should pay about $8 million that the league says the team owes.
MLB wants outgoing owner Frank McCourt to pay, since almost all of that money covers the league's legal fees for the bankruptcy case. Under the MLB constitution, teams are forbidden from suing the league and, if they do sue, they must cover the league's legal bills. McCourt's attorneys say any bills should be assumed by the new owners.
MLB officials met Wednesday with incoming Dodgers president Stan Kasten and other representatives of Guggenheim Baseball Management, the new owners. The meeting, held under the auspices of the court-appointed mediator, was intended to ease the league's concern that the Dodgers had not provided enough information about the new owners.
Friday's hearing is divided into two parts, one starting at 7 a.m. PDT and the other at 1 p.m.
For up-to-the-minute coverage of the proceedings, go to twitter.com/BillShaikin.