NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is taking the extraordinary step of assuming control of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team increasingly paralyzed by the bitter divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Move comes one week after Dodgers owner Frank McCourt had arranged a $30 million loan from Fox, the team’s television partner. MLB commissioner Bud Selig has not approved a new longterm contract between team and Fox, and the Los Angeles Times said the money was needed to make payroll.
Selig told Frank McCourt that he will appoint a representative to oversee all aspects of the business and the day-to-day operations of the club.
“I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club,” Selig said Wednesday in a statement.
Selig said he will appoint his representative within a few days.
Once among baseball’s glamour franchises, the Dodgers have been consumed by infighting since Jamie McCourt filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage in October 2009, one week after her husband fired her as the team’s chief executive. Frank McCourt accused Jamie of having an affair with her bodyguard-driver and performing poorly at work.
“My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. McCourt’s ownership,” Selig said. “The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future.”
Selig’s move might be seen by some as a precedent should the New York Mets have additional financial problems. With owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz under pressure from a lawsuit tied to the Bernard Madoff swindle, the Mets borrowed $25 million last year from Major League Baseball. Unlike the McCourts, Wilpon is a longtime friend of Selig.