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Dodgers bidders, beware the parking lot attendant!

February 24, 2012 | 12:28 pm

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is willing to sell the team but not the parking lots surrounding the stadium
Which of these sounds like a good deal:

For sale: Beverly Hills mansion, $25 million, driveway and garage not included.

For sale: Vintage Ferrari, $5 million, tires and wheels not included.

For sale: Gulfstream V, $25 million, wings not included.

For sale: L.A. Dodgers, $1 billion-plus, parking lots not included.

So you answered "none of the above" too, right? 

Then why are there still nine groups bidding for the right to pay beleaguered Dodgers owner Frank McCourt beaucoup Benjamins for a team -- and a stadium -- that needs upgrading, and they won't get the parking lots?

Really, this is starting to feel like the time your parents told you that of course you could go to the Springstreen concert -- as long as you took your 14-year-old brother. Or when you were in college, and there was that annoying frat brother -- but he was the only one who had a car.

Want to know what it's like to have Frank as your partner? Ask Jamie McCourt.

Honestly, buying the Dodgers under these circumstances would be like having Dick Cheney as your vice president.

Of course, not everyone is delusional. Of the 11 groups that made the cut in the bidding process, the Rick Caruso/Joe Torre bunch dropped out Thursday, citing the parking lot issue. That followed the reported withdrawal earlier in the week of a group that included former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley.

So who's still in? Well, the biggest local name is probably Magic Johnson, and then there are several East Coast types and assorted well-heeled folks -- all of whom apparently really love the Dodgers.

And what exactly is the parking lot scenario?  From The Times' story:

McCourt divided the Dodgers and the parking lots into separate entities in 2005, with the approval of Major League Baseball. The Dodgers are in bankruptcy, but the McCourt entity that controls the parking lots is not.

The sale agreement between McCourt and MLB specifically permits him to retain the lots --  and build parking structures on them if he chooses.

The new owner of the Dodgers would inherit a lease for the parking lots -- at $14 million per year, with increases starting in 2015 -- and a separate loan that McCourt has said requires the team to play at Dodger Stadium until at least 2030.

Hmm, can you say "hamstrung"?  Because all I hear are warning klaxons, starting with the fact that Frank managed to run the Dodgers into bankruptcy -- but not his parking lot company.

Which means that he apparently knows a lot more about running a parking lot than a baseball team. 

So, worried about the high price of gas? Think parking in Chavez Ravine is expensive now? Wait until you attend a Dodgers game in 2015. Can you say "second mortgage"?

Not to mention what ticket prices will have to be if the new owners want to recoup their investment.

But the bidding goes on. You can talk all you want about a bad economy, but obviously the 1% folks are doing just fine, thank you very much, if they can pony up this kind of cash for part of a franchise -- and who knows, based on Frank's penny-pinching ways, the parking lots may turn out to be the best part of what's left.

Still, I've always been sure of one thing: Rich people didn't get rich by being stupid.

But in this case, you have to wonder if another old adage won't prove true: A fool and his money are soon parted.

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The Dow is climbing! The Dow is climbing!

-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, left, and center fielder Matt Kemp. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

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