Selig 'not concerned' about deal

Updated: October 12, 2003, 1:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LOS ANGELES -- A day after News Corp. reached an agreement in principle to sell the Dodgers to Boston real estate magnate Frank McCourt for $430 million, MLB commissioner Bud Selig expressed confidence the deal would be completed despite questions about whether McCourt had sufficient financial backing.

"I'm not concerned," Selig said Saturday about the proposed sale that still must be approved in a vote of baseball owners.

McCourt's financing remains unclear, baseball officials said, and his partnership has not been completed. A report from Boston indicated that McCourt might sell or find development partners for his properties there to help pay for the Dodgers.

Stanley Shuman, a partner at the New York investment-banking firm of Allen & Co. representing News Corp. in the sale, had also reached a purchase agreement in May with Tampa Bay Buccaneer owner Malcolm Glazer. That deal, however, collapsed as Glazer was unable to overcome complex financing regulations in the NFL and Major League Baseball.

"I don't think Allen & Co., Stan Shuman or Fox would have gone this far if they felt there were economic problems that couldn't be surmounted," Selig said.

As part of the sale, Fox Sports Net 2 will retain rights to the Dodgers for the next 10 to 12 years, officials said. With the Dodgers citing losses of $40 million annually, Selig said he figured the franchise might be on the market awhile.

"I was surprised, but I wasn't, given the enormity of their losses," the commissioner said. "I think that's the reason it took so long.

"People get tired of hearing me talk about our economic problems, but when you see a premier franchise like the Dodgers losing the amount of money they have, that speaks for itself."

So why was McCourt so eager to purchase the Dodgers?

"I think for the very reason that it's a premier franchise, and we have hope that the economics will improve with the new [labor] agreement," Selig said. "We've already seen some movement in that direction, and this is only the first year."

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