McCourts agree to let judge settle Dodgers ownership

LOS ANGELES Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:27pm EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt (L) and his ex-wife Jamie McCourt are shown in this combination of 2010 file photographs from their divorce trial in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt (L) and his ex-wife Jamie McCourt are shown in this combination of 2010 file photographs from their divorce trial in Los Angeles.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Frank and Jamie McCourt agreed Friday to let a judge decide who owns the Los Angeles Dodgers -- a ruling that could lead to Frank McCourt winning sole control or a sale of the troubled franchise.

Attorneys for both McCourts said during a brief court hearing in Los Angeles that the estranged couple had resolved all other issues in their bitter divorce case, which has left the fate of the Dodgers hanging in the balance.

The settlement agreement between the two sides calls for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon to preside over a one-day trial in August to determine if the team belongs exclusively to Frank McCourt or is community property.

If Gordon rules that the club is community property, Frank and Jamie McCourt would each own 50 percent, which could lead to a sale of the team.

Jamie McCourt, who filed for divorce in October of 2009, asked Gordon in May to order an immediate sale of the Dodgers, saying her husband had mismanaged the storied franchise.

If the judge rules that Frank McCourt has sole ownership of the Dodgers, he will pay Jamie McCourt $100 million under the agreement.

The agreement is contingent on Major League Baseball approving a long term television contract between the Dodgers and the Fox network, which includes an up-front payment of $385 million that Frank McCourt has said is key to the team's finances.

An MLB spokesman contacted by Reuters declined to comment on the McCourts settlement or the proposed television deal.

McCourt, after a meeting with MLB officials in April, said that Commissioner Bud Selig had vetoed the Fox TV deal. But the league responded that McCourt was simply told the commissioner would make no decision until after an investigation of the club.

Major League Baseball, in an extraordinary move, took over day-to-day control of the Dodgers in April over what Selig said were concerns over the team's finances.

In May, the family of a San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day sued the team and owner Frank McCourt.

The attack on Bryan Stow ignited a furor in Los Angeles over what critics say was a failure by McCourt and city officials to curb an atmosphere of intimidation and thuggish behavior at the stadium.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Julian Linden)

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