Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Dodger Stadium Renovation Progress, But Not For Lack of "Investment"

Credit my sister for picking up this great find from Curbed LA, detailing how $4,000,000 has been paid in consulting fees to a mysterious "John McCourt Company", without a lot of yield to show for it:

Trying to understand where the McCourts get their money, and how they intended to pay for those Dodger Stadium improvements, was always a mystery. Now with the couple's divorce spilling the beans of their financials, the FanHouse uncovers an entity called John McCourt Company, an LLC that was apparently only responsible for the "Next 50" phase, aka that planned Johnson Fain and HKS-designed improvement project to Dodger Stadium. All about the John McCourt Company: "Beginning in 2008 and continuing through at least the first four months of 2010, the Dodgers paid $300,000 per month to an entity called the John McCourt Company for consulting services related to development of the real estate surrounding Dodger Stadium, according to court documents and statements made in court by both sides in April."

"In deposition testimony and comments from both sides in court, it is not clear what, if anything, the John McCourt Company did to earn its substantial fees. The entity is described on the team's website as the "real estate development and management affiliate of the McCourt Group," which is the holding company that owns the Dodgers. The entity's lone identifiable employee is Geoff Wharton, the Dodgers' chief operating officer, who is listed in his media guide bio as the president of the John McCourt Company."

All told, this entity has been paid $4 million in "consulting services," according to Fanhouse. Perhaps the peanut gallery can break down the expenses of planning such a big renovation. Meanwhile, more news: The Dodgers paid Frank and Jamie McCourt's adult sons $400,000 and $200,000 per year, respectively "for services that are undefined and could not be described by either Frank or Jamie McCourt," according to Fanhouse. Please adopt us, and then hire us, Frank.

I don't want to be adopted by the McCourts.

Curbed LA picked up this summary from a more detailed article here at Fanhouse, which also recaps the "Next 50" vision:

In April 2008, the McCourts announced a $500 million vision to modernize Dodger Stadium and transform the area surrounding the 48-year-old venue into a year-round destination. The plans included a dramatic new entry beyond center field, a "bustling new promenade" of shops and restaurants, as well as a new "Dodger Experience" museum, according to a club's press release. "We're creating a new stadium without tearing down the old," Frank McCourt said in the team's statement at the time. "That may take more effort and more resources, but we're talking about Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are a world class organization, a world class brand and a franchise with a history of courage and vision."

Yeah, this divorce case, all the press that has come with it, and the spotlight on the dubious financial shenanigans, is all doing a lot to extend our franchise history of courage and vision. I think I can speak for fans, as well as both McCourts, by saying that I wish this whole divorce thing was over, and all these financial reindeer games were buried again. Buried deep.