Even with news of the divorce settlement between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his former wife Jamie, the team remains embroiled in a legal tussle with Major League Baseball (MLB) that could still cloud its 2012 season.
Under the released terms of the settlement, Jamie McCourt is promised $130 million in exchange for giving up her marital share in the team. The sum is most likely to be paid from revenues from the team’s proposed television contract or from the sale of the team, should the contract not go through.
With the divorce settlement out of the way, Frank McCourt can now focus solely on the impending bankruptcy court battle with MLB. The court has set the initial trial date for October 31.
However, the continuing bankruptcy battle between MLB and McCourt has another party entering the legal fray. Season ticket holders are demanding the right to have a seat at the table for all forthcoming discussions between the two parties.
An ad hoc committee of 17,000 season ticket holders, which includes the heirs of the late Frank Sinatra, is arguing that it deserves a seat at the table for negotiations because decisions could affect the value of their season tickets.
While the U.S. trustee assigned to the case has already made the preliminary decision that the Committee lacks standing to be involved at this time, a hearing has been set for October 25 to hear arguments as to why standing should be granted.
Both MLB and McCourt are against allowing the ad hoc committee a seat at negotiations, saying that their interests will be taken care of by both sides without their participation.
Already, the committee has come out in support of MLB’s position that McCourt should sell the team, stating in court papers that the television auction “appears to be self-motivated by Mr. McCourt and his personal financial issues and not the interests of the Dodgers and its core creditors, the season ticket holders.”
Los Angeles attorney Robbin Itkin represents the season ticket holder group, but she could not be reached for comment. She recently told the Los Angeles Times that these fans “have a right to be heard and protected.”
At the heart of the bankruptcy court trial is whether or not McCourt and the Dodgers will be able to use revenues from a proposed auction of television broadcast rights to lift the team out of bankruptcy, which the team filed for in June.
McCourt is arguing that the auction would generate enough future revenues to secure the team’s financial future, while MLB claims that such a deal would simply be undertaken for the financial good of McCourt and would not be in the best interests of the Dodgers.
The position of MLB, which took over operations of the Dodgers when the team was forced to declare bankruptcy, is that the only viable option is for McCourt to sell the team. And if McCourt continues to refuse to sell, MLB is also hoping to receive permission from the court to file a “reorganization plan” that would allow MLB commissioner Bud Selig to sell the team from under McCourt.