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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sources: Dodgers payroll gets met

By Molly Knight
ESPN The Magazine

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt was able to meet the team's payroll Tuesday with cash advances drawn on the team's corporate sponsorship deals, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Since McCourt has been unable to secure traditional loans to fund the cash-strapped Dodgers, front office executives in charge of revenue were charged with finding more creative ways to help float the troubled franchise for two more weeks.

Current team sponsors were contacted and offered discounts on their annual bills and luxury box stadium seats in exchange for cash up front, according to two sources. It is not known which sponsors took the offer, or the depth of discount they were given.

McCourt is still searching for the funding to make the team's next payroll on June 15, according to two people with knowledge of the Dodgers finances who were not authorized to speak publicly. Should the beleaguered owner fail to make payroll, Major League Baseball would cover it for him and likely formally seize the team.

Based on an Opening Day payroll of $103.8 million, the Dodgers' payroll for its major league roster in the second half of May was about $8.25 million. The figure includes 16 days' salary, but not any signing bonus payments that happen to fall due.

The Times, citing anonymous sources, reported last week that McCourt needed roughly $9.8 million to meet Tuesday's payroll. His financial woes will increase in June because the Dodgers owe Manny Ramirez more than $6 million in deferred compensation, the paper said.

McCourt took a $30 million loan from Fox, the Dodgers' television partner, prior to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig's decision to appoint a monitor, former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer, to oversee the team's daily operations and to examine its records.

The ability to make payroll gives McCourt more time to reach a settlement with his ex-wife and former team CEO Jamie McCourt. The McCourts are embroiled in a nasty divorce where she recently asked Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to order the sale of the team.

Gordon has ruled that a postnuptial marital agreement signed by the former couple, which gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers, was invalid and cleared the way for Jamie McCourt to seek half the team under California's community property law.

Settlement talks are set to resume June 8.

McCourt has urged Selig to approve a 17-year contract with Fox that could be worth more than $3 billion, which would include a front-loaded payment of about $300 million.

Molly Knight is a reporter for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.