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MLB Plays Hard Ball in High-Asset Dodgers Divorce Matter

It might strike some people as ironic that one of the priciest, volatile and flat-out complicated high-asset divorce disputes to take place in years in celebrity-laden Los Angeles involves a couple who is far removed from movie stars and the big screen.

We have mentioned the McCourts -- Frank and Jamie -- in previous posts, noting the acrimony of their dissolution and the confusion over how the legal ownership of the most valuable asset associated with them -- the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team -- should be divided.

Not long ago, the couple agreed to a settlement that would have involved the team's lucrative television contract with a division of Fox Sports, but Major League Baseball ("MLB") Commissioner Bud Selig used his plenary powers to nix that deal, saying that it would unduly enrich Frank McCourt at the expense of his team.

The Dodgers promptly thereafter filed for bankruptcy, a move likely engineered by Frank McCourt to lessen Selig's power, given that the commissioner's ability to summarily act has now been replaced by the requirement that he act "in a commercially reasonable manner" in a matter that involves bankruptcy.

What that means is that a full-out bidding war for media rights to the team could now ensue among multiple suitors, which would drive up the team's price and put a huge amount of money into the hands of Frank or Frank and Jamie (depending on how the team ownership dispute eventually works out).

The rumor mill says that the MLB and Selig will fight against any scenario under which McCourt retains any ownership interest, considering him a financial risk and embarrassment to the game.

McCourt's opponents might instead seek to force an auction of the Dodgers and promote an owner who is approved by the majority of MLB team owners.

The drama continues, on many fronts.

Related Resource: Reuters, "Analysis: McCourt's long-shot odds to hang on to Dodgers" Aug. 30, 2011

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