Frank McCourt offered $1.2 billion to sell the Dodgers

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Well, we weren’t expecting this. From out of the blue comes an offer — all cash — to Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers. It’s for $1.2 billion, and it comes from a man named Bill Burke. Burke, who is the founder of the Los Angeles Marathon, is backed by “certain state-owned investment institutions of the People’s Republic of China” and other investors, Bill Shaikin reports. Which probably means that Burke is just the figurehead/American face of the deal.

According to my friend (and Los Angeles resident and native) Bob Timmermann, Burke is married to former Los Angeles County Superintendent Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. The Burkes remain big players in Democratic politics, Mr. Timmermann says. I would assume this means that he’s not just some crazy rich person looking for attention.

The deal is reportedly for everything, including the team, the ballpark and the surrounding real estate.  McCourt has no comment and it’s unclear whether he’s open to selling.

But jeez, it’s not every day that someone offers you $1.2 billion in cash.  Assuming it’s something Major League Baseball would be receptive to — and why would they not be? — how could McCourt turn this down given all of the financial challenges he currently faces?

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.