Murdoch moving in on Dodgers, Fox confirms

Fox sources confirmed Monday that Rupert Murdoch is close to completing a deal to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers as well as Dodger Stadium and its surrounding land, the team’s Dominican Republic training facilities and spring training facilities in Vero Beach, Fla.

The stadium land could be used to construct a football stadium, which would be a key to Murdoch’s efforts to acquire a new NFL franchise for Los Angeles.

A published report estimated the purchase price of the entire package to be in the neighborhood of $400 million, but a source inside Fox pegged it at $350 million. The sale is predicted to be some 4 to 6 weeks away from being finalized.

News Corp. and Fox Sports spokesmen declined to comment on Monday, other than to say that the proposed deal “has been rumored for a while.” However, no one is disputing that Murdoch now clearly has the inside track to acquire one of the plum franchises in professional sports.

Murdoch to date holds no sports team interest, though his Fox Broadcasting is currently in the second year of a four-year, $565 million broadcast rights pact with Major League Baseball.

If the Dodger deal is done, Fox would join such fellow network/team owners as the Walt Disney Co. (which owns the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and a controlling interest in the Anaheim Angels), Turner Broadcasting (which owns baseball’s Atlanta Braves) and NBC (which has a stake in the basketball New York Knicks and hockey Rangers through its 25% stake in Cablevision).

Some at Fox believe that owning the Dodgers would strengthen its efforts to gain distribution for Fox Sports West 2, the regional sports spin-off that has encountered a wall of cable operator resistance despite its exclusive cable carriage of Dodgers baseball.

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