Deal may be done by end of month

Updated: January 20, 2004, 11:47 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The Boston real estate developer who hopes to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers met with baseball officials for 11 hours Tuesday, and the sport's No. 2 official remained hopeful the deal could be completed this month.

Frank McCourt, his wife and his lawyer attended the meeting along with Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Atlanta Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay.

Gary Ehrlich represented News Corp. McCourt announced in October an agreement to buy the Dodgers, a deal worth $430 million. The agreement calls for the sale to close by Jan. 31, and DuPuy said the sides intended to meet again Wednesday.

"It was a constructive dialogue," he said. "This is a complicated transaction. We hope we are moving toward the finish line."

Baseball officials have been examining the deal to make sure it complies with the sport's rules about the level of debt. To get the deal approved by the end of the month, commissioner Bud Selig probably would have to call for a vote by telephone conference call.

"I remain optimistic that we can consummate the transaction in the time frame the buyer and seller indicated was important," DuPuy said.

The Los Angeles Times reported last weekend that billionaire Eli Broad told News Corp. he would offer to buy the Dodgers for $430 million if McCourt's deal wasn't completed.

"In our application process, a club presents a potential buyer to us," DuPuy said. "We process that application. We don't make applications to comparative buyers."

McCourt's spokesman, Duffy Jennings, declined comment.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press