Deal is close, DuPuy says

Updated: January 23, 2004, 4:55 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press