Sun, Dec

Hey AEG: Save LA, Buy the Dodgers


DODGERS AT A LOSS - The Dodgers and their fans are in a world of hurt, in large part because of the looting of over $100 million from the Dodgers by The Boston Parking Lot Attendant (aka Frank McCourt) and his spendoholic wife, former presidential aspirant, Princess Jamie McCourt.

The Dodgers are five games under .500.  The Bums are in fourth place (next to last) in the National League West, seven games behind the San Francisco Giants in the loss column.  They are in ninth place in the Wild Card race, eight games behind the Atlanta Braves in the loss column.

And for all practical purposes, the season is over, unless the Dodgers have a phenomenal hot streak, winning 60 out of their next 95 games (.632 ball) to reach 91 wins, the threshold that Atlanta met last year in qualifying for the National League Wild Card.

Attendance at Dodger Stadium has fallen off a cliff, down 17% for the year to date.  Annualized, this will result in a revenue loss of over $25 million, not counting the substantially higher level of no shows and the increasing number of discounted ticket sales.

As a result, the Dodgers may lose money this year.  

The Dodgers are now ninth in attendance with an average attendance of around 34,500, a far cry from the 2007 level of over 47,600, second in the majors.

The Boston Parking Lot Attendant has also had a difficult time meeting payroll.  To meet the previous payroll at the end of May, Frank accelerated the collection of revenues from sponsors, including United Airlines, the Official Airlines of the Dodgers, by offering significant discounts for prepayment.  And it appears that the Dodgers are selling premium seats at significant discounts just to generate incremental revenue, alienating season ticket holders.

And then there is the issue of the upcoming payrolls on June 15 and June 30, at which time Manny Ramirez will be owed $6 million in deferred compensation.  

But all these problems represent an excellent opportunity for the well heeled AEG, the owner of the Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Galaxy, an investor in the Lakers, the owner and operator of Staples and the Home Depot Center, the owner of LA Live, and the prospective owner of a NFL franchise to be housed at Farmers Field in Downtown LA.  

While Frank may not want a partner or outside investor, AEG can finesse The Boston Parking Lot Attendant by arranging to purchase Princess Jamie’s 50% interest in the Dodgers and related assets so that she can have her desired nest egg and be rid of Frank, his financial follies, and his inept management.

The second step is to purchase a portion of the outstanding debt of the Dodgers and related assets from the banks at a discount, thereby putting AEG in a position where they can force Frank and the Dodgers to pay off the loans that are currently in default. And more than likely the banks, including Bank of America, are anxious to sell these loans so they do not have to deal with the untrustworthy Frank and his related problems.

At the same time, AEG should offer to make an investment of $200 million in the equity of the Dodgers, the proceeds of which would be used to pay down the burdensome level of debt, including any debt owned by AEG, no doubt pleasing the Commissioner and Major League Baseball.

During the last few weeks, Frank has been on a charm offense, calling off his attack dog, Steve Soboroff, and soliciting hallelujahs from the Reverend John J. Hunter of the First AME Church and numerous other pastors.  He has also garnered accolades from the Latino organizations citing the Frank’s investments in the community.

But unfortunately for Frank, purchased political praise does not pay the bills, service the bank borrowings, or satisfy Major League Baseball’s debt service rules.  Nor does it bring paying fans back to Dodger Stadium.

The Boston Parking Lot Attendant’s financial woes, his looting of the Dodgers, his smarmy image, and his failure to provide adequate security at Dodger Stadium are destroying the Dodgers and its iconic brand, alienating loyal fans, and, in the process, lessening the value of the franchise.

Unfortunately, scorched earth Frank views himself as a fighter.  But battling Major League Baseball, major banks, Princess Jamie in divorce court, and possibly the Internal Revenue Service is considerably different than screwing investors in the old Boston rail yard and fleecing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for millions.

AEG with its financial wherewithal, knowledge of the LA market, its operating experience in the sports and facilities business, and its willingness to play hard ball may be the embodiment of the miracle that True Blue fans and Angelenos are praying for to save us from the increasingly desperate Frank McCourt.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:   [email protected] )

Tags: Dodgers, Frank McCourt, AEG, National League, San Francisco Giants

Vol 9 Issue 47
Pub: June 14, 2011