The future of the Dodgers is still up for grabs, with bids from potential owners expected next week, but sticky issues concerning ownership of the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium is casting a shadow over the whole affair, reports the LA Times. The Dodgers, as we all know, are in bankruptcy, "but the McCourt entity that controls the Dodger Stadium parking lots is not," which means there could be all sorts of conflict not too far down the road (in 2006, McCourt set up a company called Blue Land to take ownership of the Chavez Ravine parking lots; the Dodgers paid Blue Land rent to use the lots). Following the divorce and bankruptcy drama that has been plaguing the team for more than a year, Major League Baseball convinced Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt to sell the team, while granting him "sole and absolute discretion" over the land underneath the parking lots. However, the agreement between MLB and McCourt says that potential buyers "may submit bids that include the purchase of the parking lots." Moreover: "If the lots are not sold with the team, the new owner would lease them from McCourt for $14 million a year. The annual lease payment would rise in 2015, and every five years thereafter."
Vegas hasn't opened a line on whether McCourt will sell the land or keep it, but the LAT quotes "a person familiar with McCourt's thinking," who believes that McCourt will not sell the land: "There is no doubt in my mind he wants to hold on to the property." But the LAT also has super secret sources that think the bidders are kind of expecting the parking lots to be part of the deal: "Most bidders are expected to ask McCourt to include the land in the sale, according to multiple people familiar with the process but not authorized to discuss it."
The LAT is concerned that if McCourt decides to keep the land, he "could try to develop the land in a way that could rehabilitate his battered civic image." Even in the dark days of the divorce, he seemed to be holding onto plans for the Next 50, his Chavez Ravine development scheme that included shops, restaurants, a Dodgers museum, a public plaza, and two parking structures.
But, with Grove developer Rick Caruso in the Dodgeres bidding mix (he and former Dodgers and Yankees Manager Joe Torre lead one of the more prominent groups expected to bid on the Dodgers), is there a chance of Sinatra and fake snow at the Ravine? Charles Sipkins, spokesman for Caruso says, "There are no plans to develop the surrounding area."
· Frank McCourt might keep Dodger Stadium parking lots [LA Times]
· New Dodgers Stadium Reveal: We Got Trees! [Curbed LA]
· Dodger Divorce Archives [Curbed LA]