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Dodgers' owners to pay $14 million a year to rent parking lots from McCourt entity

Land-use documents show that property surrounding Dodger Stadium could be used for shops, homes and another sports venue. Mark Walter, Dodgers' controlling owner, says there's no plan for more development at time.

May 04, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • The Dodgers' new owners will pay an entity half-owned by Frank McCourt, pictured, to rent the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers' new owners will pay an entity half-owned by Frank McCourt,… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

The Dodgers' new owners will pay $14 million per year to rent the parking lots from an entity half-owned by Frank McCourt, according to land-use documents intended to "facilitate the orderly development" of the property surrounding Dodger Stadium.

The potential uses for the property include shops and restaurants, homes and offices, and another sports venue, according to documents obtained Friday by The Times. The documents also discuss the possibility of parking structures on the land.

Mark Walter, the Dodgers' controlling owner, said Friday that his group is not contemplating any development at this time.

"Someday, there could be," he said. "We have no plans to build now. We have no plans for parking structures now. In the next 100 years, that could easily happen."

Guggenheim Baseball agreed to a 99-year lease with the company that owns the parking lots, a joint venture between McCourt and an entity affiliated with the new team owners. Walter said McCourt would get some portion of the annual $14-million rent, after accounting for expenses and return on investment.

The $10 Dodger Stadium parking fee will be collected by Guggenheim. Aside from the annual lease payment, Walter said McCourt would not share in any team revenue, including parking fees.

According to the documents, Guggenheim has the authority to sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium. The McCourt-Guggenheim joint venture that owns the parking lots has the authority to sell naming rights to any "non-baseball professional sports facility" on the site.

Dodgers President Stan Kasten said this week that the team has no plans to sell naming rights to the stadium. Although some Dodgers bidders reportedly spoke with the NFL about the league's interest in a football stadium on the site, Walter said his group did not.

"We have not talked to the NFL," Walter said.

In addition to another sports facility, the potential property uses cited in the document include homes, offices, restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, medical and academic buildings, and a hotel and exhibit hall.

Construction on the parking lots would reduce the available parking spaces — now 19,000, according to the documents. Parking structures could replace spaces lost to construction.

The City of Los Angeles and Major League Baseball would have to approve any reduction below 16,500 parking spaces, although the documents specify that MLB would get a say "if and only if the team is then playing home games at the stadium."

Kasten also said the Dodgers have no plans to move from Dodger Stadium.

Tony Natsis, the Los Angeles attorney who represented McCourt in land-use negotiations, confirmed that neither McCourt nor Guggenheim had immediate plans for development.

He said the document was designed to be flexible in accommodating whatever ideas McCourt and Guggenheim might have to build out the property over the next 25 to 50 years, citing as examples the restaurants and clubs surrounding AT&T Park in San Francisco and Petco Park in San Diego.

"It is an ill-conceived concept that the highest and best use of Chavez Ravine is 260 acres for parking," Natsis said. "I consider that to be an ill-conceived notion for the owner of the parking lots and the owner of the stadium."

McCourt owns the Los Angeles Marathon, and the race course starts at Dodger Stadium. The document permits the continued use of the stadium for the race, with the company that owns the parking lots paying the Dodgers $40,000 each year.

The Dodgers initially filed the land-use documents under seal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. After an attorney for The Times objected, the Dodgers withdrew the documents, waiting to file them with the Los Angeles County recorder's office until the team sale closed this week.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

Times staff writer Roger Vincent contributed to this report.

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