MLB Takes Over Dodgers Operations

In the latest blow to one of his sport's marquee franchises, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday that he is taking over operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers because of concerns over team finances and the ability of owner Frank McCourt to run the storied club.

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Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium prior to a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers on April 14.


"The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly," Mr. Selig said in a prepared statement.

The move comes after a flurry of embarrassments for Mr. McCourt, the former developer who purchased the club seven years ago from News Corp. in a highly leveraged deal. News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal.

The franchise came under increasing scrutiny for security lapses earlier this month after a San Francisco Giants fan was severely beaten during the season-opening series at Dodger Stadium. In addition, Mr. McCourt has been battling his wife, Jamie, for control of the team for the past year and a half as the couple undergoes a high-profile divorce that has revealed the couple used club money to finance a lavish lifestyle.

"As the 50% owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I welcome and support the commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction for the franchise," Ms. McCourt said.

Facing substantial debt payments, Mr. McCourt recently reached a new 20-year media-rights deal with News Corp.'s Fox Sports unit that would have provided about $2.5 billion. But Mr. Selig withheld his approval for the deal, and in the meantime Mr. McCourt had to take out a $30 million personal loan from the Fox unit to cover the team's continuing operations.

According to a person with knowledge of Mr. Selig's thinking, his takeover decision resulted directly from the accumulating embarrassments and worries about Mr. McCourt's ability to fund the club's payroll. The person said Mr. Selig questions whether Mr. McCourt is fit to own the team for the long term, a determination he will make after he conducts an investigation in coming months.

Mr. McCourt said in a statement, "Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines which all 30 teams must follow. The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the Commissioner's action today." A spokesman for Fox Sports said a long-term solution was in the interests of all parties and welcomed the commissioner's intervention.

Mr. Selig said he would appoint a representative of Major League Baseball to oversee the club, one of the oldest and proudest franchises in the game, and the winner of five World Series titles since it moved to Los Angeles before the 1958 season.

But he has already begun investigating the franchise's operations, including having forensic accountants examine its books. And he sent the league's security staff to augment the Dodgers' staff after the fan was beaten.

The National Basketball Association's New Orleans Hornets and the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes are also under their respective leagues' control.

Mr. Selig was forced to take control of the Texas Rangers two years ago after former owner Tom Hicks defaulted on loans connected to the club.

Mr. Selig took control of the club under "the best interests of baseball" clause, which gives him near unilateral power over the game's 30 franchises.

—Hannah Karp
contributed to this article.

Write to Matthew Futterman at

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