Dodgers-Fox TV Deal Key to McCourts' Divorce Settlement
The divorce settlement announced Friday by Los Angeles Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt hinges on Major League Baseball's approval of a long-term television contract extension that has been reached between the team and Fox.
If MLB commissioner Bud Selig were to reject the reported $3 billion, 17-year agreement, the settlement would be voided and the McCourts would resume proceedings in divorce court.
Without the Fox deal and a $385 million advance that comes with it, the Dodgers will be hard-pressed to meet their June 30 payroll, and Selig could then seize the Dodgers. Fox has already advanced Frank McCourt money from the team’s current television deal to help cover expenses.
“I fully expect MLB to approve the Fox transaction," Frank McCourt told reporters after the settlement was unveiled. “MLB has taken the position that before they approve [the deal], they wanted to see a settlement of the divorce, approval from Jamie [on the deal] or an order from the judge. They asked for one of the three, and we've given them all three today.”
As part of Friday’s settlement, the McCourts also agreed to a one-day trial in August so that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon can make a final determination of whether the Dodgers belong solely to Frank McCourt or whether the team should be considered community property.
If Gordon rules that the Dodgers are community property, the McCourts would split their assets 50-50, which would almost certainly result in the sale of the National League team — barring Frank McCourt raising hundreds of millions of dollars to buy Jamie out.
If Gordon rules that the Dodgers are the property of Frank McCourt, then Jamie McCourt would get $100 million, keep the couple’s homes and receive indemnity from tax liability, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“I’m just hoping for resolution and I hope this is a step toward that,” Jamie McCourt told reporters.
Meanwhile, the commissioner’s office is nearing the end of an investigation into the Dodgers’ operations, a probe whose result Frank McCourt believes is predetermined to force him from ownership.
The McCourts purchased the Dodgers for $430 million in 2004. According to court documents, the club was $433 million in debt as of September.