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Friday, February 19, 2010
Jamie McCourt court filing shines spotlight on Dodgers' three-ring circus


First, the links:

"Jamie McCourt doubles request for monthly support," by Bill Shaikin of the Times.

"In Divorce Suit, Wife Disputes Dodgers' Owner's Wealth," by John R. Emshwiller of the Wall Street Journal.

"Filings Running Wild," by Joshua Fisher of Dodger Divorce.

* * *

Jamie McCourt's various requests for monthly support from Frank McCourt are, in many ways, a sideshow in contrast to the springtime courtroom event that will determine whether one owns the Dodgers or both do. So I'll just point to the most interesting tent attractions:

1) According to this most recently disclosed filing by Jamie's attorneys Thursday, the McCourt plans for the Dodgers after their current TV contract expires are even bigger than we knew. From Shaikin:
... The Dodgers intend to launch cable channels in English and Spanish in 2014, after the expiration of their contract with FSN, with annual profit projections of at least $150 million, according to documents in the filing. Alternatively, the Dodgers estimate they also could sign a five-year extension with FSN for $300 million, according to the deposition of a club executive.

The Dodgers remain interested in building an NFL stadium adjacent to Dodger Stadium, and in persuading City Hall to lift zoning restrictions and allow "over a million square feet of mixed-use developments" in the stadium parking area, according to the filing.

In addition, Frank McCourt last year solicited a Chinese investment bank for a venture that would unite the Dodgers and a Beijing soccer club under the McCourt umbrella, with the intention of adding an English Premier League club to the mix. That venture appears to be on hold, according to the filing, because of the divorce proceedings.

2) According to the filing, Dodger revenue remained relatively stable during the overall economic downturn, dropping only 3% from $295 million in 2008 to $285 million in 2009.

3) The only contests Jamie McCourt is interested in winning are legal ones. She has no interest in winning a popularity contest ...
... In filing for divorce in October, Jamie McCourt asked for $488,000 per month in temporary support. The revised request -- for $988,845 per month -- reflects property-tax bills as well as additional records that her lawyers claim can show the couple averaged $2.3 million per month in salaries, distributions and perks starting in 2004, when the McCourts bought the Dodgers.

Frank McCourt still would have $1.3 million per month to maintain his lifestyle, her lawyers wrote.

"Jamie fully recognizes that the . . . award which she will be seeking will be viewed by many people as being astronomical," according to the filing. "That may very well be the case. But Jamie's request also has been thoroughly documented . . . as being wholly consistent with the parties' marital lifestyle." ...

4) ... but she's certainly not going to help Frank win any popularity contest, either. Jamie's side contends that Frank has been messing with the books. From Emshwiller:
... In Thursday's court filing, Ms. McCourt said that her husband's personal financial statement as of Sept. 30, 2008 showed his net worth at $834.9 million. However, a follow-up personal financial statement showed that as of last June 30, Mr. McCourt's net worth had dropped to $163.4 million. Ms. McCourt's filing contends that the second financial statement was prepared after the couple separated and its results were "fabricated" through "blatant balance sheet manipulations" to show a much lower level of wealth. Ms. McCourt's filing contended that the "net equity value" of the assets of Mr. McCourt's enterprises was in excess of $2 billion. ...

... Ms. McCourt's filing also said that between 2004 and 2009, the couple received, directly or indirectly, payouts from their enterprises that averaged over $2.3 million a month. That the money was "almost entirely on a tax-free basis," the filing said. The filing said that Mr. McCourt, who built his fortune as a real estate developer in Massachusetts, followed the pattern of many developers by living off cash from lines of credit and loan proceeds, which wouldn't immediately be taxable. Capital gains taxes would be paid when the underlying properties were sold, the filing said.

When the McCourts moved to California and purchased the Dodgers in 2004, the team replaced real estate as the underlying asset for loans, the filing said. Instead of "monetizing" future rental income streams from real estate, Mr. McCourt has been monetizing revenue from future Dodger ticket sales to support loans, the filing said. It added that $390 million in loans have been obtained in that manner.

Like I said, this is all just the undercard. Wait 'til we get to the main event ...