Short answer: yes. Bill Shaikin and the Times put together an excellent article today detailing the potential for Frank McCourt to end up losing money on his (and Jamie's?) purchase of the Dodgers. Let's cut to the chase:
McCourt's intention in putting the Dodgers into bankruptcy is to keep the team, not to sell it. However, the debt load and tax liability have increased to the point where the $150-million loan assumed in bankruptcy funding could wipe out much — if not all — of whatever profit he would make if he is ordered to sell the team.
In case of a sale, McCourt would have to pay off taxes as well as debts. In July, McCourt told the divorce court that "a sale would result in … the incurrence of between $80 million and $200 million in tax liabilities."
That tax bill could rise with penalties. In a divorce court filing in August, Frank McCourt's accountant noted that the 2006, 2007 and 2008 tax returns for Frank and Jamie McCourt "as well as certain entities that allocate income to them" are currently being audited "by federal and state taxing authorities," with any liability yet to be determined.So what's behind that ticking tax time bomb? Basically, Frank McCourt has held substantial loss carryforwards dating back to those halcyon parking lot days, and that bill--which I have been assured is over $100 million--would come due upon sale of the Dodgers. Add that to the team's debt load, and all the sudden Frank must sell the club for damn near a billion dollars to make a profit.
And, of course, there's the very real chance that whatever equity remaining in the Dodgers will have to be split with Jamie. Granted, just about every single person who reads this site would kill to even be only "very wealthy," so Frank's potential descent from "obscenely wealthy" won't be the cause of much sympathy.
But what happens if Frank can't satisfy the debt and tax obligations following a potential sale? Both Frank's most admirable and most troublesome trait is his perseverance, or perhaps stubbornness. He's made a pretty fabulous life operating on a "damn the torpedoes" basis, but this might be the most accurately aimed one yet. The last few years have seen the fall of numerous personal financial empires. Is the owner of one of the most storied franchises in American sports next?
As is often the case, it's probably wise to temper expectations of such an extreme outcome. After all, baseball desperately wants Frank out of the game. You have to figure that, should Frank become convinced he can't win the right to sell off the club's TV rights, he'd finally go to baseball and try to cut a deal.
That'd be the prudent thing to do. Right?