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The unimaginable emerges: The sale of naming rights to Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium

It’s akin to a heresy: one of the bidders for the Los Angeles Dodgers asked about the potential of selling naming rights to Dodger Stadium after the team and ballpark are sold by Frank McCourt.

Dodger Stadium is one of the great historic venues of baseball, opening in 1962. To say the name isn’t totally wrapped up in the great tradition of the Los Angeles Dodgers would be to ignore the basic history of the team and why it’s a flagship franchise for Major League Baseball. And as Dodger Stadium has been allowed to deteriorate, so has the great Dodger brand: whoever buys the team will need to restore both the Dodger brand and the Dodger Stadium physical plant, probably to the tune of $200 million or more.

Now, it’s not know whether any of the four groups currently bidding for the Dodgers brought up the sale of naming rights: the initial inquiry was made to Bruce Bennett, the Dodgers’ lead bankruptcy attorney, and Peter Cohen, a Blackstone Advisory Partners executive, on Feb. 22 during a teleconference, according to the Los Angeles Times, when there were more bidders for the team. And it’s not new: Frank McCourt also explored selling naming rights after buying the team in 2003. But any potential buyer of the Dodgers needs to mull this over: if Frank McCourt thought a sale of naming rights was a good business move, chances are good it wasn’t.

By the way, the Los Angeles Times reports the bids for the team and the ballpark are in the range of $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion. We’ve heard that at least one all-cash deal — the kind that McCourt may be forced to take to wrap things up to meet his divorce obligations — is considerably lower.

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