Frank McCourt, the most hated man in Los Angeles, is heading into Batman villain territory with his latest threat to hold the Dodger Stadium parking lots hostage.
It's appropriate, in a comic book sort of way, that a guy who made his fortune with a parking lot should resort, in his desperate final bid to cling to that fortune, to taking a parking lot hostage. It's cartoonish, but here we are.
Essentially, McCourt is arguing that Major League Baseball might be able to seize the Dodgers, but it cannot seize the parking lots. The new owner would have to pay whatever McCourt wants to charge for the right to park cars there. You can see the evil gleam in his eye…
“It's all about the parking… If you control the parking, you control the franchise.”
The Major League Baseball Constitution says that the commissioner can seize a franchise and sell it. But when McCourt bought the Dodgers, he immediately split up the franchise into a complex web of inter-connected entities and LLCs.
McCourt seems to believe that MLB can seize just the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium, but it can't seize the other entities which collect revenue from Dodger tickets or parking fees. Clearly those are functions that are integral to the operation of a baseball team, but Frank believes that by spinning them off into separate entities, he's put them out of MLB's grasp. If that were true, it would be all but impossible to sell the team.
MLB, naturally, believes that McCourt's interpretation is horseshit. Here's the relevant passage from the MLB Constitution:
Without limiting the foregoing, the Commissioner is hereby authorized and empowered (but not required) to acquire through a designee and operate or dispose of the baseball park (or leasehold interest therein if such park is leased by such Club) and/or all other baseball properties, including without limitation the Club and the television, radio and other media contracts of such Club, the Player Development Contracts of such Club, the trademark and copyright rights of such Club and any other property, contracts, rights under this Constitution or other rights the Commissioner shall designate. (Article VIII, Section 6)
So now the legal question turns on whether the parking lots and the ticket entities and whatever else constitute “any other property.”
If you remember the amount of legal effort that went into parsing the difference between “inclusive” and “exclusive” during the divorce trial, then you know just how thorny this question can get.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers remain in limbo for the foreseeable future.
Gotta hand it to the guy. He makes one hell of a supervillain.