McCourt nearly doubled the Dodgers' revenue in relatively short order, from $156 million in 2003 — the final year under News Corp. ownership — to $289 million in 2009, according to records filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. MLB does not release financial data for individual clubs, but Forbes estimates that no club besides the New York Yankees has exceeded $289 million in revenue, at least through the 2010 season.
The Dodgers played before a half-empty stadium last year, as McCourt fought in two courts to retain control of the team. Revenue dropped to $240 million.
By November, the Dodgers were barely more popular than the Baltimore Orioles, a team with an unpopular owner and 14 consecutive losing seasons, according to data from The Marketing Arm, a Dallas-based agency that helps companies determine where to spend their advertising dollars.
The Dodgers should return to prominence fairly soon under new ownership, said Mike Singer, consulting director of sponsorship strategy for The Marketing Arm. In January 2011, even after McCourt's bruising divorce trial, the Dodgers fared well among local fans, Singer said.
"It spiraled pretty quickly," he said. "If things were to stabilize — with Joe Torre or Magic Johnson or some other kind of ownership the fans could feel good about, with Matt Kemp putting together another good year, with winning some games in a winnable division — I see it as a quick turnaround."