Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, said he offered to buy the Dodgers several months ago but declined to enter negotiations when owner Frank McCourt said the price would be in the range of $1 billion to $1.2 billion.
“At that price, I wasn’t interested,” Cuban said Tuesday.
Cuban, who has lost out in bidding for the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, said he remains interested in buying the Dodgers.
Cuban said he could not recall exactly when he made his overture to McCourt, but said he did so “in anticipation of what might happen.” McCourt, who took the Dodgers into bankruptcy in June in an effort to remain their owner, agreed late Tuesday to sell the team in a court auction.
Steve Sugerman, a spokesman for McCourt, said the Dodgers owner denied ever discussing a possible sale with Cuban.
“He doesn’t know Mark Cuban,” Sugerman said. “He hasn’t spoken with Mark Cuban. He hasn’t had anyone speak with Mark Cuban on his behalf.”
Cuban later confirmed he had not spoken directly with McCourt but said he had discussions with an employee that worked with the McCourts. He declined to identify the employee.
In court papers this week, attorneys for McCourt estimated the value of the Dodgers, their stadium and the surrounding land “in excess of $1 billion.” Forbes valued the assets at $800 million in March.
McCourt might need the Dodgers to sell for at least $1 billion to break even after settling his debts and tax liabilities, based on court records in California and Delaware. Cuban said a sale in that range would not make economic sense for him.
Cuban participated in a Bankruptcy Court auction last year for the Rangers. A group led by Hall of Fame member Nolan Ryan won the bidding at $593 million.
“I don’t think the Dodgers franchise is worth twice what the Rangers are worth,” Cuban said.
Cuban said the lure of owning the storied Dodgers is tempered for him by the need to invest perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium renovation, the prospect of luxury suite customers taking their business from the Dodgers to a new NFL team and the difficulty of financing a perennial championship contender in the absence of an MLB salary cap.
“Once the sale price gets too high, you can’t invest in the team,” said Cuban, who visited The Times on Tuesday to promote his HDNet cable channel.
McCourt took the Dodgers into bankruptcy after Selig rejected a new television contract with Fox Sports, a deal valued by McCourt at $3 billion.
Cuban conceded a new owner of the Dodgers might attract a television deal for even more money, but said he would be reluctant to borrow against that money to finance team operations.
“I don’t want to be in a position to have a lot of debt,” he said. “Those would be dollars that could not be used to put together a winning team.”
Cuban bought the Mavericks in 2000. The team has posted a winning record in each season since then and in June won its first NBA championship.