Dodgers' bidders to meet MLB group

NEW YORK -- Remaining bidders for the Los Angeles Dodgers have been told they will be scheduled for meetings with Major League Baseball's ownership committee early next month.

The exact date of each group's meeting has not been set yet, but the range of dates for the sessions has been given to the bidders, a person familiar with the process said Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the parties have signed nondisclosure agreements.

"What we will be doing is vetting the various groups presented to the committee, and that's in the process of being done now," said Atlanta Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay, the ownership committee chairman. "Then they'll be meetings, background checks, and things of this kind will be taking place. That's a process that will take some time, but it will be done expeditiously."

Bartholomay said the committee will investigate "very deep" into not just the lead individuals of the groups, but also the proposed limited partners and corporations that plan to invest.

The process was agreed to by Major League Baseball and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt in a deal filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. MLB agreed to process up to 10 bidders. Normally, Bartholomay's committee processes only the finalist to purchase a franchise.

"Let's face it, when you have the United States government involved, it takes a different profile," he said.

Bartholomay said he is joined on the ownership committee by Baltimore Orioles chairman Peter Angelos, St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Seattle Mariners chairman emeritus John Ellis, Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, New York Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and New York Mets chairman Fred Wilpon.

While the date for the next round of bids has not been set, it appears the process is on a track to have a mid-March submission date for the offers.

After putting the team in bankruptcy last year, McCourt signed an agreement with MLB saying he would select the new owner by April and close a sale by April 30, matching the date he is due to give former wife Jamie a $131 million divorce settlement.

"It's a serious project, a great franchise," Bartholomay said. "Hopefully it can be done in accordance with the target dates for the transaction to be completed."