Wall Street Journal reporter Matthew Futterman has a great rundown this afternoon of the behind-the-scenes negotiations in recent months between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and executives of News Corp.’s Fox division, and how they ultimately forced MLB’s hand. McCourt, after sucking out more than $100 million from the franchise, went into overdrive this year to renew a cable TV broadcast contract with Fox that expires at the end of 2013.
According to Futterman, the sequence of events went something like this:
1) At the beginning of 2011, McCourt and Fox agreed on a standalone $200 million loan. Sources tell Futterman that one of the main reasons MLB commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve it is that he feared McCourt would allocate a substantial amount of the cash to personal considerations.
2) Earlier this month, McCourt and Fox agreed on a $2.5 billion, 20-year broadcast deal renewal. As part of the arrangement, McCourt would get $300 million up front, but once again, Selig said no out of concern that the money would go to places it shouldn’t.
3) McCourt then arranged a $30 million personal loan from Fox, which Selig saw as a blatant attempt by the owner to circumvent the above decrees. Three strikes, and McCourt was out.
Update – 04/22/11: The LA Times has different figures for 2) – $3 billion and $375 million – and says Selig has not yet ruled on the deal.