LOS ANGELES -- Jamie and Frank McCourt agreed Friday to have a one-day trial to determine if title to the Los Angeles Dodgers is in Frank McCourt's name or if the team should be considered community property in their divorce, the former couple and their attorneys announced.I like the sound of a one-day WINNER TAKE IT ALL Battle Royale.
The agreement anticipates Major League Baseball's approval of a lengthy TV contract between the Dodgers and Fox, Frank McCourt said outside court. That deal has been reported to be worth $3 billion and Frank McCourt would receive $385 million upfront.
"Nothing exists if not for the Fox deal," a source close to the negotiations told ESPN The Magazine's Molly Knight. Frank McCourt expressed extreme confidence in the outcome of the trial set for Aug. 4 and he said that he and his former wife had already agreed on what would happen in either outcome. The source also said that if Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon rules the Dodgers are community property, the team will almost certainly have to be sold to split the couple's assets. If Frank McCourt is awarded ownership, Jamie McCourt would receive $100 million, the couple's homes and would receive indemnity from tax liability.
But it's highly unlikely MLB would approve the TV deal, a source told Knight, in part because Gordon could force a sale of the team and saddle a new owner with what could be a below market television contract in the future. Frank McCourt said all other issues in the divorce were settled. The McCourts' lawyers had spent several sessions in front of Gordon to reach an agreement. In December, Gordon deemed invalid a postnuptial marital agreement which gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers. That cleared the way for Jamie McCourt to seek half the team under California's community property law.
Jamie McCourt had asked Gordon to order the sale of the team. In April, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of assuming control of the troubled franchise. Former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer was appointed to monitor the team on behalf of baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. Selig said he took the action because he was concerned about the team's finances and how the Dodgers are being run.
The former couple's lavish lifestyle was exposed in court documents where it was revealed that they took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses. Their spending habits were likened to using the money from the team as though it was their personal ATM or credit card. Another judge in November declared an impasse after the McCourts and their attorneys could not reach an agreement.
Neither of the McCourts has acknowledged one another throughout the divorce proceedings. At one point on Thursday, the former couple sat a few feet away from each other, without their attorneys, in Gordon's courtroom. Jamie McCourt busied herself on a tablet, while her ex-husband sat quietly.