Nov 02

Could Fox buy the Dodgers again?

From CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell:

…I think Fox which sold the team, stadium and parking lots to McCourt for $421 million in 2004, could — and might have to — throw its name in the hat again.

Why? For the same reason they bought the Dodgers in 1998 for $311 million. They want the team’s future television rights, which would begin in the 2014 season. A spokesman for Fox Sports could not immediately answer whether the speculation, which has been floated by some bankers, is rational.

What is clear is this: Fox Sports West and Fox-owned Prime Ticket is in a very tough position. After this season (if there is one) they lose the Lakers to Time Warner, which signed the team to a 20-year deal reportedly worth as much as $3 billion. And they lost USC and UCLA games to the upstart Pac-12 Network. If they don’t get a deal for the Dodgers, the network is basically worthless.

The reason Fox sold the Dodgers is that they thought buying TV rights were a better financial move. They were reportedly losing tens of millions of dollars managing the team. But now, that just might be the cost of doing business in a marketplace that is much more competitive than it was just seven years ago. …

Few in Los Angeles will be eager to see a return of the Fox ownership. At a minimum, the idea that the bidding of Fox could increase the money Frank McCourt receives in the sale would be ratified by the Irony Committee.

Perhaps what happens is this: Fox ends up a minority stakeholder in the team, as it essentially was when it helped finance the McCourt purchase nearly eight years ago, but working with a new, improved owner.