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Real estate developer reaches deal

10/15/2003 - Los Angeles Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Frank McCourt, a Boston real estate developer
who failed in two earlier attempts to buy major league teams, has
reached an agreement to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers from News
Corp., both parties said Friday.

McCourt will head an investment group that reportedly has
offered more than $400 million for the team, Dodger Stadium and
adjoining real estate, plus training facilities in Vero Beach,
Fla., and the Dominican Republic.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed in a joint statement.

Major league team owners must approve the sale before it can be
finalized.

McCourt, 49, wanted to buy the Boston Red Sox in 2001, but
eventually dropped out of the bidding. The team and the New England
Sports Network were sold by the Yawkey family and its trust to
former Florida Marlins owner John Henry and his partners for $660
million.

McCourt also was interested in purchasing the Anaheim Angels
earlier this year, but Arturo Moreno bought them from the Walt
Disney Co. for $184 million last May.

News Corp. purchased the Dodgers from Peter O'Malley in 1998 for
$311 million and has been losing money since. O'Malley's late
father, Walter, had moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in
1958.

The Dodgers haven't made the playoffs since 1996 and haven't won
a postseason game since they were World Series champions in 1988.
They finished this past season with an 85-77 record that left
them in second place in the NL West, 15{ games behind San
Francisco. Florida took the wild card with a 91-71 record.

Former manager Tommy Lasorda, now an executive with the team,
said he hopes to see the Dodgers regain past glory.

``It's been an organization of great pride. An organization
under the O'Malley regime that was very, very successful,'' said
the 76-year-old Lasorda, who has been in the organization for 54
years. ``We won many championships and lately we've struggled and
now what we have to do is bring this organization back to where it
once was.''

A major step in the proposed sale will be McCourt's ability to
prove to the other team owners that he has enough financial back
for the deal to go through. At least two-thirds of baseball's 30
owners would have to approve the sale.

Peter Chernin, president of News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment
Group, said the company has been ``privileged to own one of
America's most enduring sports franchises for more than five
years.''

Chernin said in a statement that McCourt and his wife and
business partner, Jamie, ``have a remarkable enthusiasm for
baseball and a profound commitment to the community.''

McCourt said in a statement that the negotiations had been
complex.

``We have the deepest respect for the history and traditions of
the Dodgers, and we recognize the strong contributions the team has
made to the local community,'' he said.

His investment partners in the deal were not identified.

McCourt is president and chief executive officer of The McCourt
Co., a Boston firm primarily involved in real estate development.
Jamie McCourt serves as vice president and general counsel for the
company.

The joint statement noted that if the deal is approved, McCourt
plans to be active in day-to-day operations of the team while
continuing to direct operations of his company in Boston.

McCourt is a longtime Red Sox season ticket holder, and his
grandfather was part-owner of the old Boston Braves.

Several others earlier tried to work out an agreement with News
Corp. to buy the Dodgers, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner
Malcolm Glazer, California developer Alan Casden and former Seattle
Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan.

News Corp. had been entertaining offers for the team and
facilities since last year.