Thursday, April 12, 2012

Will the Dodgers bankruptcy court approve the Guggenheim purchase on Friday?

While El-Lay radio continues to talk about Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten and all of the wonderful things that will be happening now that the Dodgers have been sold, people in the real world are trying to complete the sale.

In the real world, that means that representatives from Mark Walter's Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC will be appearing before bankruptcy judge Kevin Gross in Delaware on Friday.

J.P. Hoornstra notes that Judge Gross will have a couple of objections to consider:

Fox's Prime Ticket subsidiary filed [an] objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. It asked for written assurance Time Warner wasn't contributing funds being used for Guggenheim's purchase of the team from Frank McCourt and the incoming owners don't have any formal or informal agreements for the team's broadcast rights starting in 2014.

You'll recall that Fox has been involved in the Dodgers saga for years. In fact, I personally became signficantly less enthusiastic about the Dodgers during the period that Fox owned the team, and when the team jettisoned manager Bill Russell and players Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo within a relatively short period. And you will recall that the present Dodgers bankruptcy occurred because Major League Baseball rejected a TV deal between current owner Frank McCourt and Fox - a deal which would have provided McCourt with a lot of personal cash.

Well, McCourt found another avenue to get his cash, and considering that Fox is not in MLB's good graces these days, I don't know if MLB is really concerned about Fox's objections.

Of course, the bankruptcy court is not controlled by MLB, so it is going to deal with Fox's objections based upon its own criteria.

And the other objections to the Guggenheim Baseball Management sale? They were raised by MLB itself.

Major League Baseball filed an objection by saying Guggenheim had not set aside enough money to satisfy what it is owed by the Dodgers.

Are these two objections deal-breakers? Hoornstra, a writer with the Daily News, says that the sale is "cast into doubt." But Los Angeles Times writer Bill Shaikin is less pessimistic:

In Tuesday's filing, MLB repeated its contention that the court should compel McCourt to pay the league about $8 million, mostly in legal fees. The matter already has been submitted to the court-appointed mediator.

Fox asked for explicit written assurances that rival Time Warner Cable is not part of the Guggenheim group. TWC is not involved, according to multiple people familiar with the sale process but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Ballpark Digest also characterizes the Fox and MLB objections as "minor requests for clarification."

So perhaps Judge Gross will see no objections and will approve the deal.

But then again, it will be Friday the 13th tomorrow...

P.S. In some respects, this is not your usual court case. Judge Gross' July 22, 2011 opinion (PDF) includes the following explanatory footnote:

[The Dodgers'] rich and successful history is of mythical proportions. Its great former players, managers, and executives could justify their own hall of fame.

I don't think I'll find such a footnote in American Airlines' paperwork.
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