Former Dodgers’ owner calls for sale of team
LOS ANGELES – Peter O’Malley, whose family owned the Dodgers for 47 years, has called upon Frank McCourt to sell the team, saying “the current Dodger ownership has lost all credibility throughout the city.”
O’Malley, 72, has remained largely silent during the divorce between McCourt and his estranged wife, Jamie, but told The Los Angeles Times that “the organization cries out for stability at this time.”
“For many years, the Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious institutions in our city and throughout professional sports,” O’Malley said. “Sadly, that is not the case today.”
O’Malley said he was not interested in returning as owner or president of the Dodgers but would be willing to work with potential new owners during a transition period, if asked.
He said he would like to see the team “owned by a small but diverse group of Los Angeles people who understand the culture of the organization and the importance of the Dodgers in this city.”
McCourt’s spokesman, Steve Sugerman, said, “Frank has made it abundantly clear he is the long-term owner of the Dodgers, and he looks forward to the day when his four boys own and operate the team.”
The McCourt divorce trial is set to resume Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Frank has contended the Dodgers are his sole property, and Jamie has argued the team should be considered community property.
O’Malley said the issue is not whether the team is sole or community property but how the McCourts “have used the Dodgers.”
In court papers, Jamie McCourt’s lawyers have said the couple took $108 million in personal distributions from the Dodgers from 2004 to 2009, using money from the team “as if it was their personal ATM or credit card” to support a lavish lifestyle that included homes in Holmby Hills and Malibu.
In civic appearances and media interviews, Frank McCourt has said fans have supported his ownership, citing the Dodgers’ four playoff appearances in six seasons. The Dodgers had not appeared so often in postseason play since O’Malley’s late father, Walter, moved the team to Los Angeles in 1958.
The Dodgers won the World Series six times under O’Malley ownership but did not win a playoff game between 1988 and 2004. Peter O’Malley sold the team to Fox for $311 million in 1998 and Fox sold to McCourt for $430 million in 2004.
“The Dodgers are a jewel and earned that reputation not just based on winning games,” O’Malley said, “but on how the franchise was managed.”
Information from: The Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com