LOS ANGELES – One of baseball’s proudest franchises is in tatters, its future to be decided not on the field but in the courtroom.
The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled franchise afloat.
McCourt, upset that baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected the proposed TV deal last week, hopes a federal judge will approve $150 million in financing to be used for daily operations, which would give him more time to seek a more favorable media contract. A hearing is set for today.
“The action taken today by Mr. McCourt does nothing but inflict further harm to this historic franchise,” Selig said in a statement.
Former players are owed millions and even beloved Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully is owed more than $150,000 as part of his contract, court documents show.
The filing by a cash-starved McCourt comes just days before he was expected to miss a team payroll on Thursday and possibly be confronted with an MLB takeover.
Legal observers expect MLB to contest McCourt’s request for filing bankruptcy, arguing the dispute should remain within the confines of baseball. Baseball’s constitution allows Selig to take control of a team that seeks Chapter 11 protection.
MLB would have to file a motion to seek termination of the franchise.
A person familiar with the filing, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the situation is still in flux, said MLB will wait to see what happens in the hearing before deciding which way to go.
The main issue is whether “the bankruptcy court maintains control of the proceedings or acquiesce to baseball,” said Edward Ristaino, who chairs the sports practice at the law firm Akerman Senterfitt.