Los Angeles — To retain ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers, owner Frank McCourt must overcome two formidable obstacles laid out in a binding settlement he and his ex-wife Jamie reached Friday in their contentious divorce.
Frank McCourt must first receive Major League Baseball’s approval of a 17-year television contract with Fox reported to be worth up to $3 billion. Under the settlement, McCourt would receive $385 million upfront, most of which would be used for Dodger-related expenses.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has given no indication if he would approve the deal, but McCourt said MLB officials have asked him to meet select criteria.
“Baseball has been very clear,” McCourt said outside court. “They wanted to see this divorce settled, and all this white noise gone, or they wanted Jamie’s consent for the Fox transaction or they wanted a judge to give them an order to move forward. Today we have achieved all three.”
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined comment. Dennis Wasser, an attorney for Jamie McCourt, hopes the TV deal will be finalized early next week. If MLB doesn’t approve the TV transaction, the settlement is null and void.
“I am just hoping for resolution, and I hope this is a step in that resolution,” Jamie McCourt said.
Some observers said the settlement gives Frank McCourt the legal firepower to get MLB to sign off on the TV transaction.
“There are now no impediments, and if the TV deal isn’t approved, it’s for other reasons than what (MLB) has stated before,” said Los Angeles family law attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer, who is not involved in the McCourts’ case. The decision to reject the deal would then be “personal” on MLB’s behalf and serves as a springboard for Frank McCourt to sue the league, she added.
In addition to the TV deal, the settlement called for a one-day “characterization” trial Aug. 4 to determine if title to the Dodgers is in Frank McCourt’s name.