Joe Torre, Rick Caruso drop their bid for Dodgers over ownership of parking lots

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Former Dodger manager Joe Torre and developer Rick Caruso have pulled out of the bidding for the team because current owner Frank McCourt won’t include the parking lots at Dodger Stadium.

Torre and Caruso say they’d be willing to get back in the bidding if the lots are part of the package, but their move gives other bidders a lot to think about.

It was parking lots in Boston that made McCourt rich enough to buy the Dodgers. Now that he’s agreed to sell the team, and the Stadium, it’s the parking lots around them that he wants to keep.

"It just may be Frank McCourt’s final bargaining chip as he tries to extract the top dollar for the Dodgers organization," says David Carter, who heads USC’s Sports Business Institute. He’s not surprised Dodger bidders Caruso and Torre balked at McCourt’s terms.

Caruso is the real estate developer who brought L.A. the Grove, and to put anything like that at Chavez Ravine, he’ll need those parking lots. Carter says a Dodger deal without the lots won’t have a lot of value to any developer.

"The inability to control the parking lots is going to limit their potential upside," says Carter. "I think they also view continuing to do business with Frank McCourt as an ongoing public relations challenge that some may not want to deal with. "

Indeed, that public relations challenge was apparent on KPCC's "AirTalk."

"If Frank McCourt is connected to this team in any way, shape or form — if he gets a dime out of me going to a Dodgers game — I will continue to boycott the team like I did last year," Dodger fan David Lasher of Porter Ranch called in to say. Mention McCourt, and he offered some history of McCourt's parking lots at Dodger Stadium.

"When the parking rates went from 10 to 15 dollars per car a few years ago, he stated that he had sold the lots to another company, had no control of the lots and the fees they charged," Lasher remembered. "Then we found out in the divorce that he buried the ownership under a front company he actually owns."

That intense fan bitterness about all things McCourt could give the remaining Dodger bidders pause. If that happens, McCourt's billion-dollar deal to sell L.A.'s baseball team could end up as flat as his parking lot pavement.

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