Auctioning off the team is likely to be a messy and lengthy exercise, and there's no assurance that the new owner will be to everyone's liking. LAT columnist Steve Lopez writes that "you could grab anyone off the street and get better results," which is the sort of thing giddy people say before giving it a second or two of thought. Glad to see Maury Brown over at Forbes provide a more sober assessment.
Before we can say for sure that the sale is even on, [U.S. Bankruptcy] Judge Gross has to sign off on the settlement between McCourt and MLB. He's going to want to want insurances - as are the secured and non-secured creditors of the Dodgers - that they all have their debt satisfied. That means there are a host of interests in the sale price running from MLB itself, which loaned the Dodgers $150 million in DIP financing, to Bryan Stow, the fan who was beaten so severely on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium that he was left in a coma. A lawyer for Stow said his medical bills could be as high as $50 million. But, the wild card in it all is McCourt. He's going to be looking for as much money as he can out of the deal, and let's be honest; he's not exactly one to suddenly want to play nice with Bud Selig.[CUT]
As we saw in the auction of the Texas Rangers in 2010, who winds up bidding gets into issues for the league. If Mark Cuban and Jim Crane had won the auction, MLB said at the time it could take another six months for a vote to approve the ownership group to occur, and even then, there was no guarantee that they would pass the owners' muster. To that end, what happens if that group of Chinese investors that said prior that they were willing to pay $1.2 billion for the Dodgers surface again? It's a different world from when Nintendo purchased the Mariners, but the concerns are the same: How do we deal with a group we really know very little about.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said this morning that the new owner should be from L.A., but there's hardly any assurance that will happen. The usual suspects, folks like Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, and Ed Roski, are not impulsive buyers, even when it's a local institution. And don't forget that any potential bidder will want to pore over the team's financial books, which aren't likely to be pretty. Just remember what troubles Fox had in selling the team seven years ago. Point is, this could drag out quite a while.