LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Prominent Los Angeles religious leaders throw their support behind Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, saying they sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and urged him to approve a $3 billion deal between McCourt and Fox.
“As religious leaders in the Los Angeles community and lifelong fans of the game of baseball, we are writing to express our sincere displeasure with the manner in which the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank McCourt have been treated by Major League Baseball,” according to the June 3 letter.
“In particular, we are deeply troubled by the rancor, media attacks, and lack of equity that has been afforded the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank McCourt as they seek provide financial stability to one of baseball’s most notable franchises … At a minimum, the estimated $3-billion television deal with Fox should improve the financial viability of the franchise …”
“It is our sincere hope that you will exercise your judgment wisely and explore all options and remedies prior to making a determination on the future of the Los Angeles Dodgers, including the state of their ownership and any revenue-generating plans.”
The letter was signed by 20 religious leaders, including the Rev. Dr. John J. Hunter, senior minister of the First A.M.E. Church of Los Angeles; Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, presiding prelate of the Fifth Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Pastor Marvin Davis, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California, New Bethel Baptist Church; and Pastor John E. Cager III, president of the Southern California Ministerial Alliance, A.M.E. Church, Second A.M.E. Church Los Angeles.
In April, MLB Commission Bud Selig appointed former Texas Rangers executive Tom Schieffer to monitor the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers, citing what he called “deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers.”
Last month, former Cincinnati Reds COO John Allen was hired as Schieffer’s assistant in monitoring the Dodgers.
McCourt, who has owned the team since 2004, has blasted the decision to appoint an oversight team. He met with league officials in April in hopes of winning approval of his proposed $3 billion media deal with Fox–a 17-year pact that he said would result in an immediate infusion of $300 million to the team.
Rob Manfred, vice president of labor relations for Major League Baseball, said Selig had not vetoed the deal, but would not make a decision “until after his investigation into the club and its finances is complete so that he can properly evaluate all of the facts and circumstances.”