Blackstone Group Managing LA Dodgers Sale

The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team said it has agreed with Major League Baseball officials to a court-supervised sale of the team and its media rights, potentially ending a long-running court battle between the league and owner Frank McCourt, Reuters reported. Blackstone Group will manage the sale. The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June after the league’s commissioner, Bud Selig, rejected the team’s proposed deal to sell its broadcast rights to generate desperately needed cash, Reuters wrote Wednesday.

(Reuters) – The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team said it has agreed with Major League Baseball officials to a court-supervised sale of the team and its media rights, potentially ending a long-running court battle between the league and owner Frank McCourt.

The team said in a statement early on Wednesday that Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June after the league’s commissioner, Bud Selig, rejected the team’s proposed deal to sell its broadcast rights to generate desperately needed cash.

The Dodgers had planned to exit Chapter 11 by striking a new deal to sell the media rights.

The league, however, had previously argued in the court the only way to end the Dodgers’ bankruptcy is to force McCourt to sell the team. The league had also tried to oust McCourt as owner of the franchise by arguing he was draining the team’s financial lifeblood.

Once any sale is complete, it will end a long-running saga that included the costly divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt, whose lavish lifestyle was blamed in part for the Dodgers woes.

A tussle for control of the Dodgers has been going on since the couple began heading for divorce with a judge ruling late last year that the team was owned jointly by the couple.

That ruling shot down arguments by Frank McCourt that the team belonged to him based on a post-nuptial agreement the couple had signed.

As the legal battle for control continued, Jamie McCourt in May asked a judge to order the immediate sale of the franchise, accusing Frank McCourt of mismanagement. Frank McCourt put the team into bankruptcy the next month, saying it had run out of cash. McCourt was also ordered to pay his ex-wife $130 million as part of their divorce settlement.

Frank McCourt has owned the team for seven years and during that time developed a reputation for high spending. The couple purchased multiple homes, flew private planes and ran up their personal debts.

McCourt, who was primarily a real estate developer at the time, bought the team in 2004 for $430 million, mostly in debt from Fox Entertainment Group, a division of News Corp .

Fox Sports, which had the media rights for the team until November 2012, had also opposed the TV rights auction, but the bankruptcy filing allowed the Dodgers to void the broadcast contract.

The sale is expected to include the team, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots, a package likely to sell for two to three times what McCourt paid, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team, told CBS Sports on Tuesday he was at one time interested in buying the Dodgers, but felt the $1 billion price tag being asked by McCourt was too steep. Forbes magazine valued the assets at $800 million in March.

The new owner would be the third since Peter O’Malley sold the team to News Corp. in 1998. The Dodgers had remained in the O’Malley family since its patriarch, Walter, moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, the Times said.

The bankruptcy case is In re: Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-12010