Tess Vigeland: Just up the freeway, the Los Angeles Dodgers are struggling in the early weeks of the season. Their win-loss record is about even. And the team may lose more than games in the near future — if it can’t pay players. The hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, is reporting that the team’s owner, Frank McCourt, doesn’t have enough money to make payroll at the end of this month.
You may remember a couple of weeks ago, Major League Baseball announced it was taking control of the team and investigating its finances. Jennifer Collins reports on the latest Dodger blues.
Jennifer Collins: Any chance you could spare $8 million? That’s what the Dodgers need to pay players for the last two weeks of this month. Sports economist Brad Humphreys says this hardly ever happens.
Brad Humphreys: Failing to make payroll is a fairly serious event.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt borrowed heavily to buy the team. He’s been through a nasty divorce that exposed reckless spending. The league’s appointed a monitor for the team. McCourt’s hoping the league will approve a deal with Fox TV network for $3 billion — over 17 years.
Still, sports commentator Jon Weinbach says don’t worry too much about the players.
Jon Weinbach: What would happen if the Dodgers missed payroll is Major League Baseball would fund them — essentially taking money from all the other owners. So in effect, every owner in major league baseball would be funding the L.A. Dodgers.
Weinbach says McCourt has seriously cut back spending on the team. Rodney Paul, sports economist at St. Bonaventure University, says that’s sent the wrong message.
Rodney Paul: It’s just you don’t want to have a team give the signal that we don’t care about winning. As soon as you do that, most fans are not going to be able to justify spending the money to go out to the park.
There are reports the team’s attendance is down 12 percent.
Paul: To be able to not have that be generated hurts not just the Dodgers but the league overall — television ratings, ticket sales, etc.
He says as baseball emerges from the economic downturn, it needs all the grand slams it can get.
I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.
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