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Major League Baseball takes financial control of Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt required a $30-million loan from Fox last week in order to meet the team's first payroll of the season. On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig stripped McCourt of financial control of the team. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Allen J. Schaben
Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt required a $30-million loan from Fox last week in order to meet the team's first payroll of the season. On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig stripped McCourt of financial control of the team. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig stripped Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of financial control of the club Wednesday, saying he would appoint a trustee to oversee the team’s business affairs while investigating the “”operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities.””

Selig intervened after McCourt required a $30 million loan from Fox last week in order to meet the team’s first payroll of the season.

Selig said he would identify the trustee “”in the next several days.””

McCourt has been under financial pressure since at least 2009, when he was rebuffed in at least three attempts to gain additional financing, according to court documents filed in his divorce case.

Season ticket sales have fallen from 27,000 in 2007 to just more than 17,000 this season, according to court documents and baseball sources.

The divorce remains unresolved, and Selig has neither approved nor rejected a proposed 20-year television contract with Fox that McCourt presented as a long-term solution to settle the divorce, manage the Dodgers’ debts and improve the team and the stadium. The Dodgers had more than $430 million in long-term debt as of 2009, according to court records.

Gary Toebben, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the takeover may be for the best, given the franchise’s recent troubles.

“”This has been like watching a soap opera unfold,”” he said. “”We want a financially solvent Dodgers. We want a winning team.

“”The Dodgers are part of the heart and soul of the community,”” he continued, noting that the team brings in money to Los Angeles in hotels, restaurant and advertising dollars.

The worst-case scenario, he said, would be the Dodgers leaving Los Angeles.

“”Franchises move in Major League Baseball,”” he said. “”But I would expect that with the history of the Dodgers in this community, they will stay.””

The big question, he said, “”Is who will own that franchise and which direction will they take it?””

He said he had not heard of any parties interested in taking over the team.

Jamie McCourt, Frank McCourt’s former wife, released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“”As the 50 percent owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the Commissioner’s actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise and for Dodgers fans everywhere.””

Selig’s complete statement:

“”Pursuant to my authority as Commissioner, I informed Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt today that I will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the Club. I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the Club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball. My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt’s ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days. The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.””

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