Los Angeles Dodgers season-ticket holders, including the singer Frank Sinatra’s three children, will seek an official committee to represent their interests in court during the team’s bankruptcy.
“We feel the season-ticket holders are the true stakeholders in the bankruptcy case and currently have no voice in the case,” Robbin L. Itkin, an attorney for five season ticket holders, said in an e-mail today. Her clients, including the Sinatras, represent “the interests of the public who have supported the Dodgers franchise for years.”
Frank Sinatra Jr., Tina Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra hold eight seats their father bought in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York, where the iconic 1950s singer and actor became a fan, family attorney Jeffrey Berkowitz said in an interview.
“They are long-time Dodgers fans,” Berkowitz said. Their seats are behind the first base dugout in the first and second rows, he said. The original chairs where Sinatra sat were preserved and moved to the team offices after the stadium was remodeled, Berkowitz said.
The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June after almost two years of falling attendance and a decline in merchandise sales. Some fans have sent letters to the judge overseeing the bankruptcy complaining about the management of the team by its owner, Frank McCourt.
The Sinatras and the other season ticket-holders who plan to participate in the case will seek to have their legal fees paid by the Dodgers through the appointment of a court-approved committee.
“Each group member is a current Dodgers season-ticket holder, with some members having held season tickets since Dodger Stadium opened in 1962,” attorneys for the group said in court papers filed today in Wilmington, Delaware, where the team is in bankruptcy.
Also today, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross declined to force the team to immediately assume or reject an eight-year contract with the Dodgers’ souvenir vendor, Los Angeles-based Facility Merchandising Inc. The company has withheld more than $300,000 in payments to the team as part of a dispute with McCourt, company owner Milton A. Arenson said in court.
This year, attendance is down 25 percent from 2010, when it fell 10 percent from the previous year, Arenson said.
“Dodger fans are genuinely disgruntled,” Arenson said in an interview. “That’s a polite way to put it.”
Team attorney Sidney Levinson, with the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, told Gross during the hearing that the team has honored its agreements with FMI and that it was too early in the bankruptcy case to decide whether the contract should be assumed or rejected.
Levinson declined to comment on the ticket holders’ request for a committee, saying he hadn’t yet seen the court filing.
The children of Sinatra, who died in 1998, hold the tickets in the name of their father and a family lawyer, Itkin said.
There are about 17,000 season-ticket holders, Itkin said.
The case is In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, 11-12010, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).