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Could McCourt lose Dodgers and keep Dodger Stadium?

Los Angeles DodgersBecause Frank and Jamie McCourt divided the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium and the Dodger Stadium parking lots and surrounding land into three different companies after buying the historic franchise, there’s a slim chance he could lose the franchise and keep the other legal entities — but it’s not very likely.

These are dicey times for the embattled Dodgers owner: he’s under the gun to make the May 31 payroll (and sources tell the Los Angeles Times he doesn’t have the money yet), and if he doesn’t, that gives MLB Commissioner Bud Selig the opening to take over the team, past the existing setup where Tom Schieffer is overseeing all finances.

Separating the assets actually makes business sense: it makes it easier to dispose of separate assets, and it limits any liability to a single asset rather than to all of them. Others teams do this (for instance, when Tom Hicks sold the Rangers, he retained the rights to parking around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), so it’s not anything unusual or underhanded.

If Selig takes control of the team, would he also take control of Dodger Stadium and the parking lots? MLB bylaws does give him the power to do so, in theory, but it’s uncharted legal territory: since there are three different corporate entities in play here, the legal basis for taking all three over is a murkier proposition, despite McCourt owning all three, and it’s arguable that the most attractive asset — the parking lots and surrounding Chavez Ravine land — is the one least related to baseball.

We’re pointing out the theories here not to argue what will happen, but to point out how complicated the situations is for all parties involved. McCourt could sell the Dodgers and keep the ballpark, with the team paying rent and McCourt also collecting parking revenues. It sounds like he’d rather sell all three corporations at one, anyway, so the whole situation may be moot.

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