Absent any major opposition from MLB and Fox Sports — save some minor requests for clarification — the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dodger Stadium should be approved on Friday.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross is scheduled to review the final disposition of the sale of the team, the ballpark and associated assets to Guggenheim Baseball Management for $2.15 billion. Yesterday was the day for affected parties to raise issues about the terms of the deal, and both Fox Sports and Major League Baseball did just that: MLB wanted to make sure insurance companies weren’t part of the investment funds used by Guggenheim to finance the purchase — something that would make the team subject to state regulation — and that money would be set aside for MLB legal fees (subject to further mediation).
Fox Sports has a bigger issue: that Time Warner, expected to be an aggressive bidder for the team’s media rights, isn’t part of the Guggenheim bid. (The Los Angeles Times reports it is not.) Fox Sports, the team’s current broadcast partner, From Bloomberg:
Fox’s Prime Ticket subsidiary filed the objection Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. It asked for written assurance that Time Warner wasn’t contributing funds being used for Guggenheim Baseball Management’s purchase of the team from Frank McCourt and the incoming owners don’t have any formal or informal agreements for the team’s broadcast rights starting in 2014….
Fox, the Dodgers’ current broadcaster, has an exclusive 45-day period starting in October to try to negotiate a new contract with the team. The current contract also prohibits the Dodgers from talking to other potential buyers of the media rights before Nov. 30 and gives Fox a limited right of first refusal on competing offers received after that date.
The media rights were key to the Dodgers sale; Frank McCourt knew that but lacked the resource to hang onto the team before putting together a deal that would pass MLB scrutiny. While Fox has limited rights to match any media deal the Dodgers put together, it’s expected to be a very rich one: Time Warner is expected to bid, as could the local CBS affiliate; meanwhile, the Dodgers could also partner with any of the three on a new sports cable network.
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