Angelenos and Dodgers fans don't seem to be mourning Frank McCourt's decision to sell the team, and McCourt doesn't blame them.
Speaking on Monday afternoon at the dedication of a Dodgers Dream field in Compton, McCourt apologized to fans and admirers of the franchise, saying "I'm very, very sorry."
He also admitted that the "last couple of years were very very difficult." When it comes time to choose a new owner, McCourt promises to try to "make sure the baton is passed on in a classy way."
When asked for a comment on Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, McCourt balked. "I've taken the high road... throughout here, whether it's been with the commissioner or my former wife. So I'm going to have no comment on that at all."
ESPN observed that McCourt was "noticeably wistful during the ceremony to dedicate the field to children in one of Los Angeles' poorest neighborhoods," perhaps because he had once promised to revamp 50 similar baseball fields throughout Los Angeles. ESPN points out that the Compton field was the 16th he had been able to follow through on.
McCourt was there with center fielder Matt Kemp, whom the Dodgers are trying to woo with a $160 million contract. On the day the media was expecting an announcement on the deal, Kemp said, "we've still got a little bit more to go," reports the Associated Press, indicating that nothing had been finalized.
Every step he took, McCourt was swarmed with reporters, and conversation about the refurbished baseball diamond in an underserved community gave way quickly to questions about the sale of the Dodgers. McCourt admitted that the decision to sell "wouldn't have been my first choice, that's for sure." But McCourt insisted that he was at peace with the decision, and is currently focused on how to hand off the Dodgers "in better shape than I found it."
It's a task obviously easier said than done. This season has seen dwindling attendance, which translates into financial losses expected to exceed $30 million, reports Forbes. The Dodgers are also about to finalize a bankruptcy settlement, reports KTLA, and the franchise currently faces a lawsuit from Bryan Stow's family. They are seeking unspecified damages to cover the cost of his care after a brutal beating that took place on the grounds of Dodger stadium.
In the past week, self-made billionaire Tom Golisano and an ownership group headed by former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser have emerged as serious contenders in the bid to become the team's next owner. Mark Cuban has also expressed interest in the team, but felt that McCourt's $1 billion price tag was too steep for what the franchise is worth. This year, Forbes valued the team at $800 million.