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Deal is close, DuPuy says

NEW YORK -- The proposed sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers from News Corp. to Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt probably will be put to a vote for approval by baseball owners next week.

Three days of meetings among baseball officials, McCourt and News Corp. moved along the deal to the point where it is nearing completion, Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said Thursday.

"We completed our discussions with the two groups. They
completed their discussions with each other," DuPuy said. "They
are preparing documentation and term sheets. We are preparing an
ownership report that, hopefully, will go out to the clubs
(Friday)."

DuPuy said commissioner Bud Selig could call for a telephone
conference call next week. If the deal is approved, McCourt could
meet the Jan. 31 deadline established in the agreement he reached
in October. The sale is worth $430 million.

Baseball officials wanted to make sure the sale complies with
the sport's rules about the level of debt. As part of the talks
this week, the sides agreed that the amount of debt could be
reduced in the future by converting some of it to equity.

While most free agents have signed, if the deal closes before
the end of the month it would allow McCourt two weeks to direct
personnel changes before the start of spring training in
mid-February.