In the past 48 hours multiple sources have confirmed to me that MLB has reached out to AEG to inquire about the possibility of the company assisting the league – and the next permanent owner of the team – in building a downtown ballpark for the Dodgers.
AEG already owns the Staples Center in downtown L.A. and has proposed a plan to the city of Los Angeles to build an NFL stadium in the same area – along with the renovation of a wing of the city’s dilapidated convention center.
A downtown Los Angeles stadium for the Dodgers would theoretically satisfy MLB’s desire to completely extract McCourt from any financial interest in the franchise while also boosting the financial fortunes of AEG’s L.A. Live development.
Note that unlike the last time something like this was rumored, it was as a land swap, with AEG building on the current Dodger Stadium site with its plentiful parking, and the Dodgers going downtown. This time, it sounds as if the idea is to put both baseball and football downtown, though lord knows where you’d fit them both, while leaving Dodgers (and Dodger Stadium) owner Frank McCourt entirely out in the cold.
Both MLB and AEG have issued denials, but you’d expect them to, whether there’s any truth to this or not. More to the point, as MSNBC’s Craig Calcaterra writes, is that the latest rumor doesn’t make a damn bit of sense:
I know about the football stadium thing people have talked about for downtown, but set your McCourt hate aside for a minute and ask yourself, what possible support could there be for a downtown stadium project for the Dodgers? And don’t tell me that it’s all AEG money, because no stadium project — not even the vaunted AT&T Park — is 100% privately financed. There would be tax abatements lobbied for and obtained. There would be infrastructure improvements required. Millions of public dollars would be spent on any stadium project, no matter what the press releases say about it being privately financed.
There is a gleaming, wonderful baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine that no one could sanely claim requires replacement for any reason other that the McCourt mess and the unsavory possibility of him being the landlord for any new Dodgers owner. But the McCourt mess is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people of Los Angeles. It is the fault and responsibility of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, who let this irresponsible jackass into the club.
If, in an effort to solve this problem, they push for the abandonment of Dodger Stadium and the construction of a new ballpark, it will be perhaps the most craven, cynical and shameless undertaking attempted since Selig took over. Sure, we can all identify a way in which Dodger Stadium is not ideal — traffic; location — but no sane person would have ever suggested its replacement absent Major League Baseball’s Frank McCourt problem. As such, this kind of proposal is the equivalent of burning down the village in order to save it.
Calcaterra allows that it could be a bluff to scare McCourt into accepting a deal to relinquish the Dodgers, but notes that “a bluff is only as good as the target‚Äôs belief that the bluffer is willing to go through with it,” making this one not so useful. Not that that’s stopped Selig before.