WILMINGTON, Del. — The Los Angeles Dodgers have asked a federal bankruptcy judge to approve procedures for the team to auction its local television rights for the 2014 season and beyond.
In a 37-page motion filed Friday with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, the Dodgers said “market conditions are optimal for licensing the telecast rights because the market for sports media rights in Los Angeles is vibrant at this time.”
The Dodgers said “there can be no assurance that these ideal market conditions will last” and they should be allowed to sell rights now “to avoid any risk of deterioration in value.”
Baseball and others have until Sept. 30 to file objections, which are likely. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.
MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred declined comment.
Separately, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and ex-wife Jamie are fighting in a California court over who owns the team. Jamie claims she is a 50 percent owner, which if she prevails could cause the Dodgers to be put up for sale.
Before the team filed for bankruptcy protection in June, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig rejected Frank McCourt’s proposed agreement with Fox Sports’ Prime Ticket, saying the deal would not be in the best interests of baseball and would further divert team assets to McCourt’s “personal needs.”
A Dodgers affiliate would have received a $385 million upfront payment as part of a 14-year-old deal worth at least $2 billion and also would have gained 35 percent equity in Prime Ticket.
While Fox has an exclusive negotiating period with the team next year running from Oct. 15-Nov. 30, the Dodgers said in their filing that provision should be unenforceable because of the bankruptcy filing.
In the filing, the Dodgers asked they be given a 45-day exclusive negotiating period with Fox now, advancing the window by about a year, and that it be followed by at least 60 days of open bidding. The team would then present its selection of a winning bid or bids to Selig for approval.
Any deal would include the TV rights for up to 150 games a season, with the team seeking to sell both English- and Spanish-language licenses. The Dodgers said after paying creditors and establishing a $25 million cash reserve, a sale would create a $175 million “cash cushion” by the end of 2012.
“If the commissioner withholds his approval, this court can and should determine whether approval has been withheld in violation of pertinent agreements,” the Dodgers wrote.
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