In 2003, Beverly Hills developer Alan Casden tried to buy the Dodgers from Fox. The company ultimately sold the team to Frank McCourt.
Casden now would like to buy the team from McCourt. And, with its legal hostilities against the Dodgers ceased, Fox would like to buy back part of the team.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross on Wednesday approved the Dodgers’ settlements with Fox and Major League Baseball, clearing the most significant legal obstacles from the pending sale of the team.
The approvals conclude an 807-day period in which McCourt was in combat with his ex-wife, MLB and/or Fox in court. He now has settled with all three parties.
McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie, filed for divorce on Oct. 27, 2009, and he vowed the Dodgers would remain his. After battles in divorce court and Bankruptcy Court, McCourt has agreed to sell the Dodgers by April 30, the same date by which he must pay his ex-wife $131 million.
“We have a relatively short time left for the sale process,” Gross said. “The settlement will allow the process to proceed without distraction.”
More than a dozen prospective buyers have been publicly identified, with opening bids due Jan. 23. Magic Johnson, whose bid partner is former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, toured Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
Fox does not want to run the Dodgers again but the company wants to secure the team’s long-term television rights, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Fox has reached out to prospective bidders to indicate its interest in acquiring a minority share of the club — essentially offering to pay part of the Dodgers’ purchase price so as to lock up the TV rights, the person said.
Casden’s name has been submitted to MLB for consideration, according to a person familiar with the process. Casden, whose net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion by Forbes, has not returned calls from The Times.
In 2003, Casden proposed buying the Dodgers, moving them to a new downtown ballpark and tearing down Dodger Stadium to build housing on the site.
“They knock down stadiums all the time,” Casden told The Times then. “Dodger Stadium is not an antique. It’s not Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a nice place to play baseball, but there are far better.”
Casden offered about $450 million to buy the Dodgers from Fox — more than McCourt paid — but the bid stalled amid MLB concerns over an investigation into illegal campaign contributions to city politicians.
In November 2003 — after Fox had agreed to sell the Dodgers to McCourt — a vice president of Casden’s company and 13 subcontractors were indicted. The parties pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and were sentenced to fines and community service.
Casden was not indicted. He denied any wrongdoing.
He is the third member of the USC Board of Trustees to explore buying the Dodgers, along with fellow developer Rick Caruso and Disney family investment chief Stanley Gold. Jamie McCourt also sits on the USC Board of Trustees.