Explaining Southern California's economy

What's the deal with the Dodgers parking lots?

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

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The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. You can see Frank McCourt's precious parking lots in the background.

Forget that Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, Peter Guber, and Guggenheim Partners — as "Guggenheim Baseball Management" — are buying the L.A. Dodgers for $2 billion. Everyone really wants to know what's going on with Frank McCourt and the massive parking lots!

At L.A. Weekly, David Futch summarizes:

Though many wanted him gone for good, under the sales terms, McCourt will be co-owner of the surrounding lands. In essence, he purchased the Dodger acreage from himself along with his new partner, a still-unnamed affiliate of Guggenheim.
McCourt has dreamed of a major development that could substantially alter the deliberately scruffy, artsy Echo Park vibe. Locals fear that the tin-ear McCourt will champion something along the lines of The Grove in the Fairfax District, an upscale mall that’s anethema to Eastsiders — many of whom make a sport of dumping on cookie-cutter chain stores and Muzak drifting from outdoor speakers shaped like boulders.

That doesn't sound too terrible, really, but you can see where Futch is coming from. McCourt is essentially selling the parking lots to himself — through a joint-venture with somebody associated with the purchasing group. The story thus far is that McCourt will have to submit any plans for transforming the lots to Magic & Co., who could veto them. For the purposed of the games, he's giving up control of the lots, so he's not going to tapping them for cash flow or anything. It's the ground the asphalt now sits on that's he's interested in.

McCourt has kept the parking lots as his last bit of skin in the game. Makes sense, as he's a parking-lot guy from waayyy back. It's how he made his money before he came West from Boston.

McCourt has been fairly smart to cling to the parking lots all along. They aren't part of the team bankruptcy because McCourt operates them as a separate entity. So it looks as the deal was structured to enable McCourt to sell them as a side deal, so that Magic & Co. gets the real estate, but then buy them back, giving up some control. They've been the thorn that McCourt has keep in everyone's side since this bidding process began.

Conspicuously absent from the Magic & Co. bid has been a plan for what to do with the property around Dodger Stadium. That could be because the bid is all about securing big money for the broadcast rights, which could fetch $3-5 billion, if Fox and Time Warner behave as expected a get into a bidding war to the rights.

That said, the land around the ballpark is very tempting, in terms of its untapped development portential. We discussed this, among many other Dodgers-related topics, on "AirTalk" this morning. KPCC's Nick Roman, David Wharton of the L.A. Times, and LAObserved (and KPCC's) Mark Lacter all joined in.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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