BOB: Team ownership updatesby Brian Borawski
June 22, 2011
Roller coaster week for Frank McCourtThing were looking up for Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. Late last week, Frank and his ex-wife, Jamie, came to agreement that would have allowed McCourt to buy Jamie out of the team for the hefty sum of $100 million. This would be pending a one-day trial in August, so it's not like it could happen overnight. The deal breaker? The team's pending television deal with Fox. Frank McCourt doesn't have the money, and the only way he would have gotten it is if MLB would have bought the television deal—which included giving the team a 35 percent stake in a regional sports network as well as a $385 million loan to Frank.
Of course that plan went right out the window yesterday. The league vetoed the deal. Selig's reason was that it the deal would allow McCourt to use the money for his personal reasons, as opposed to investing it in the franchise. According to the story, McCourt is now going to vigorously explore options, and it'll be interesting to see if this thing goes to court.
The $1 detail of the Mets saleLast month, it was reported that New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz agreed to sell a 33 percent piece of the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn for $200 million. What wasn't initially reported was that Einhorn has an option to increase his stake in the team by 60 percent. If Wilpon and Katz return the $200 million to Einhorn, he essentially gets to keep the 33 percent stake as an interest-free loan. If they can't pay him back, Einhorn can pay one dollar to buy the 60 percent stake.
This deal hasn't been approved by MLB yet, but it seems to have their seal of approval. The Mets need the money, as the team appears to be bleeding cash—and then there's the whole Bernie Madoff fall-out that Wilpon and Katz are involved in.
Astros sale faces hurdleLast week, Maury Brown's latest piece at Forbes.com is a profile of the potential future owner of the Houston Astros, Jim Crane. He goes into his past attempts to buy the team and also goes into some of the man's transgressions. These range from discrimination allegations to profiteering from the Iraq War. While it looks like MLB knew of a lot of these transgressions, it appears that the profiteering may have been a surprise and now they're investigating the allegations.
The speculation is that there's an outside chance it could complicate the sale. Still, it'll be interesting to see how this is spun so things can move forward.
MLB has big weekendThis past weekend, MLB had its largest attendance weekend since 2008. 1,646,000 tickets were sold over 45 weekend games and this was the most since late September, 2008 when 1,683,763 tickets were sold. 572,446 tickets were sold on Sunday and this is the most of any given day in 2011. The Chicago Cubs set a weekend attendance record with the New York Yankees in town and the Boston Red Sox sold out all three of their games and extended their sell-out streak to 666 games.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.