The Dodgers have talked about creative ways their Chavez Ravine property could generate revenue for ownership. One such deal, a head-scratcher, is already in place: The team has been charging itself rent — $14 million this year — on Dodger Stadium property it owns.
Yes that’s right. The Dodgers are paying themselves rent on property they own. And if you think $14 million is a lot for rent – even if you actually had a landlord to pay it to – you’d be right. According to the Times, the White Sox paid $1.4 million in rent this season, and the Brewers and Mariners each paid $900,000. The Red Sox, who own Fenway Park, do not pay any rent at all. Imagine that.
Court records show that the Dodgers have amassed a $24 million surplus via this method, and have not touched it even while cutting their player payroll from $118.5 million in 2008 to $102 million this season.
Jamie McCourt’s lawyers are saying that this allows Frank McCourt to “work around restrictions on receiving cash directly from team coffers.” Frank McCourt’s lawyer says “Tidbits reported in the media from divorce court filings do not tell a full story. And while members of the news media continue to find interest in the divorce proceedings, fans care about winning and having a great experience at the ballpark. That’s where their focus is. That’s where our focus is.”
Nice attempt at distraction.
There is some talk about the team using that money to pay off debt – which makes some sense – and to pay construction managers, which I suppose would make sense if the Dodgers were actually doing any construction work.
Needless to say, the Dodgers are a mess in the front office. From paying $400,000 to an executive who runs a $1.6 million charity, to spending lavishly on personal expenses while cutting spending on the draft and international-player signings, the McCourts have made a fine mess of things.
At least Dodgers fans can find some consolation in the divorce bringing all of this to light. Now they just have to pray that the McCourt split leads to a sale of the team. Otherwise … well let’s try not to think about that.