Major League Baseball approved all three bids for the Los Angeles Dodgers on a Tuesday afternoon conference call. According to the Associated Press, MLB owners were unanimous in their approval. Approval of the three bids was expected, as weaker bids had already been weeded out of the process.
The sale process now moves to a private auction, scheduled to begin Wednesday, where Frank McCourt will select the winning bidder. A decision must be reached by Sunday, April 1.
It was also revealed on Tuesday that the sale of the Dodgers will include the parking lots around the stadium. Earlier in the process, it was reported that McCourt would retain ownership of the parking lots. An group of bidders including Joe Torre dropped out of the process earlier in the year citing McCourt's refusal to include the parking lots in the sale.
Owning the parking lots prevents the new owner from paying rent on them. It also makes it easier for the new owner to develop the land around the stadium, if they so choose. In remark made with no thought to public relations, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell poured gasoline on the fears of St. Louis Rams fans with a comment about Chavez Ravine being an ideal location for a football stadium.
Though these words of caution are likely to fall on deaf ears, TST was told on Tuesday that Kroenke owning the Dodgers would not necessarily mean relocation is inevitable. Bernie Miklasz at the PD also said it was a stretch in his most recent column. The dots between Kroenke owning the Dodgers and moving the Rams to LA are easy to connect, but it is still speculation remember.
If Kroenke is selected as the winning bidder for the Dodgers, the NFL would move quickly to address the cross ownership issue. Any arrangement made for Kroenke to own both teams would have to be approved by 75 percent, 24 of 32, NFL owners.
All of the bids for the Dodgers range from $1.4 to $1.6 billion. Should the final deal differ from the bid approved by MLB, the league can review the deal again. Remember, for MLB this is about providing stability and direction to a team considered one of its most iconic franchises and marketable brands.
Another wrinkle in the story is that McCourt reportedly tried to introduce a new bidder into the process on Monday, but was rebuffed. Who that bidder was is unknown, but it makes for an interesting juxtaposition with other reports of McCourt being conflicted about selecting a bidder.
As for which of the three bids is likely to be the winner, most are betting on Cohen, with the group led by Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten a close second. Nobody knows but McCourt, and he probably does not know yet. As for why Cohen is the favorite, the AP report sums it up with a quote from an outside expert, though the four-letter word c-a-s-h ought to be enough to sum it up.
"The obvious front-runner should be Steve Cohen. He's using his own money rather than someone else's money," said Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp, which is not involved. "He does not have an issue like the cross-ownership prohibition in the NFL. Cohen has the wherewithal to simply write the check, especially with Soon as his partner. He's addressed much of the LA-area concerns by bringing a significant partner in, and he is extraordinarily capitalized."
A decision is due by Sunday, though it could come sooner.