Frank McCourt famously leveraged the Dodgers after purchasing them. Indeed, he saddled an asset he bought for $430 million with something like $433 million in debt. We knew that. His defense has always been, however, that the Dodgers are a cash cow and that there are tons of untapped revenue sources available. And that all may be true. But that’s not impressing lenders very much, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
McCourt was turned down at least three times — by Citibank, by a Chinese
investment group and by a Southern California infomercial king — in
trying to secure additional financing last year, according to documents
filed in the divorce case between him and his estranged wife, Jamie.
In a deposition, Dodgers Chief Financial Officer Peter Wilhelm said Citibank declined even to engage in serious negotiations.
“They did not feel that the Dodger organization had the capacity to take on more debt,” Wilhelm said.
Shaikin reports that the debt load “has limited how the Dodgers can pay their players and could affect the team’s ability to sign talent.” Doesn’t seem like there’s any “could” about it, given that another of the story’s quoted sources says that every free penny the team pulls in goes towards debt service.
McCourt has said all along that his divorce hasn’t had a negative impact on the Dodgers baseball operations. Maybe he’s right! It’s been everything about his management style prior to the divorce that was the real culprit.