Though some outlets are reporting Major League Baseball looking at a new downtown ballpark for the Los Angeles Dodgers should the franchise be seized, the truth is far more pedestrian — and no, there’s no replacement ballpark on the horizon.
SportsByBrooks reported that two sources had reported Major League Baseball had approached facilities giant AEG about building a new downtown Los Angeles ballpark adjacent to Staples Center and the LA Live entertainment complex. The response both from AEG and MLB was swiift: No, there’s been no talk at all about a new downtown ballpark, something confirmed by the most wired man in Los Angeles, Bill Shaiklin. Which makes sense: yes, there are some interesting legalities that could come down the pike in terms of ownership of the Dodgers vs. ownership of Dodger Stadium should MLB make a play to basically reposses the team, but no legal expert we’ve consulted thinks we’ll get to the point where MLB owns the team and is paying rent to Frank McCourt. MLB’s bylaws clearly allow the commissioner to seize the franchise and all related entities — and McCourt agreed to this provision when he bought the team.
After checking with a few insiders close to the Dodgers and some other industry types, here’s what we think really happened: there was at least one exploratory discussion between an AEG offficial and someone close to Major League Baseball about the possibility of AEG managing Dodger Stadium if MLB ended up with the team and the ballpark. That such a discussion would happen is not a surprise: facility-management companies approach potential customers every day. Most fans don’t realize how many meetings and discussions happen before a deal is struck, and how many meetings occur when nothing happens. There’s a load of money to be made off of Dodger Stadium; at one point McCourt proposed an entertainment district outside the Dodger Stadium games, and entertainment districts happen to be a specialty of AEG. After the gossip mill got done churning things and amplifying them a la Party Line, it became a tale where AEG was going to spend a billion dollars on a new ballpark. To that end, we think Brooks accurately reported on what he had been told — but what he was told wasn’t accurate. Talk of a new Dodger Stadium may be a short-term boost on the page-view front, but in practical terms, it’s such a nonstarter it’s not funny.
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