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Dodgers Seek TV Deal to Seal Bankruptcy Exit Before Year End

The Los Angeles Dodgers, aiming to emerge from bankruptcy before the end of the year, intend to seek court permission next month to sell cable-television rights.

The Dodgers’ business plan is based on a TV-rights deal that it says will ensure financial stability. The team will ask a U.S. bankruptcy judge at an Aug. 16 hearing to approve procedures for marketing and selling the media rights, it said in a court filing yesterday.

“I would say that timeframe is aggressive but achievable,” Bruce Bennett, the Dodgers’ bankruptcy attorney, said in an interview about the goal of exiting bankruptcy before the end of the year.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy last month after Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig named a monitor to oversee the team’s day-to-day operations and rejected a proposed television-rights deal with News Corp.’s Fox Sports.

There will be “a full marketing process” of the television rights, Bennett said. The Dodgers have sought court permission to hire Blackstone Group LP as the team’s investment banker during the bankruptcy case. Bennett said he expects “interest from multiple bidders.”

Funding Source

The process is “designed to facilitate competition and the emergence of a highest and best offer,” he said.

Pat Courtney, a spokesman for MLB, declined to comment on the Dodgers plan to sell the TV rights.

MLB, meanwhile, has deprived the team of a “critical source” of funding available to all other teams, the Dodgers said in yesterday’s court filing. A Dodgers subsidiary was scheduled to receive $2 million on July 13 from the Major League Central Fund, which generates income from national telecasting and radio broadcasting rights, according to the team.

“It’s $2 million we’re entitled to, and we’d like to have it,” Bennett said.

The Dodgers automatically lost access to the fund because the team filed for bankruptcy, said Courtney, baseball’s spokesman. The Dodgers can get a waiver if the team accepts a proposed bankruptcy loan from MLB, he said.

The Dodgers have opposed financing from MLB and are instead seeking final approval for a loan from JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Highbridge Capital Management LLC.

The bankruptcy case is In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, 11-12010, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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