The Dodgers’ FAQ: Because everyone’s just guessing at this point

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What are the Dodgers worth these days?

For the package deal of the team, stadium and parking lot, Forbes has it valued at about $800 million – almost twice as much as what Frank and Jamie McCourt paid for that bundle in 2004. Others put the price tag at north of $1 billion. If it’s true that McCourt got an unsolicited $1.2 billion cash offer from a group financed by the government of China, connected to L.A. Marathon founder Bill Burke, then the actual value depends on who’s paying for it.

How long will this process take?

There’s been no timetable established, but rule of thumb is at least a couple of months for any Major League Baseball ownership change. But considering that Commissioner Bud Selig would want this on the fast track, if it’s all straightened out by Opening Day 2012, that would make everyone happy. However, Selig best take as much time as possible for due diligence, based on how he rubber-stamped McCourt ownership some seven years ago based on a recommendation by News Corp. If that makes the proceedings go longer than normal, it’s in everyone’s best interests.

How does this affect the media rights deal?

The new owner only has to assume the current Fox deal that’s in place through 2013 – Prime Ticket carrying some 100-plus games a season, plus KCAL-Channel 9′s over-the-air package. But then again, anything past that depends on who buys the team. If Time Warner or Fox bought in, either would be in position to start their own Dodger channel, something McCourt only dreamed about. If it’s someone else, the 13-year, $3 billion deal that Fox had on the table with McCourt could still be in play. Selig rejected it only base on the circumstances of how McCourt already seemed to have the money spent on his personal bail-out program.

How does this decision affect free agency?

The window for most of the bigger names out there will only last a few months, so without an owner setting a budget, it depends on who gives direction to GM Ned Colletti. He’s been much more creative in building a team around home-grown talent, stung in the past with over-priced free agent busts. For example, his plan is to re-sign Juan Riviera as his left fielder. If he goes after Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols to play first, he can’t move James Loney to the outfield. McCourt gave Colletti a budget for 2012 that was supposedly larger than 2011, but that’s not saying much. Colletti’s philosophy might be to first lock in players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw before he looks for a new value-friendly third baseman or more starting pitching, then do more reconstruction work at the July 31, 2012 deadline, something like he did with obtaining Manny Ramirez a couple of years ago.

How could this affect ticket prices?

The team just announced lower prices on 96 percent of all the seats in Dodger Stadium. Jack up the other four percent (behind the backstop and in the luxury suites bought by corporations) and who’s really going to notice? The key is getting attractive packages together to lure back the season-seat holders who abandoned the team over the last two years. If they start using their seats again to generate parking and concession sales, the new cheaper prices should hold up well.

How does this all affect the Bryan Stow case?

It’s not going away yet. The family of the San Francisco Giants fan attacked in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on March 31 has said in a lawsuit against McCourt and the Dodgers that they expect his medical bills to exceed $50 million. The Dodgers have also sued the two suspects in custody by the LAPD. This is a lawsuit that follows McCourt where ever he goes. McCourt was likely advised by the MLB that proceeds from the sale of the team could help him quickly reach an out-of-court settlement before any trial starts.

What happens now to Frank McCourt?

He’s a 58-year-old bachelor who still owns the Los Angeles Marathon. He won’t just disappear depending on how fast someone can give up their airline miles and arrange to have him shipped one way back to Boston. Perhaps he can trademark his name and find a future in writing novels?

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