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McCourt's $430M purchase of team complete

LOS ANGELES -- Frank McCourt finally bought the Dodgers on
Friday, taking over the team from News Corp. less than a week
before Los Angeles starts spring training.

With the close of the highly leveraged $430 million sale, the
Boston real estate developer immediately became chairman of the
team. His wife, Jamie, became vice chairman.

"They now have official control of the franchise," Dodgers
senior vice president Derrick Hall said. "They're ecstatic and
ready to get going."

McCourt announced Oct. 10 he had agreed to buy the team along
with Dodger Stadium and adjoining real estate, plus training
facilities in Vero Beach, Fla., and the Dominican Republic.
Baseball owners voted Jan. 29 to approve the sale.

The O'Malley family controlled the Dodgers for nearly 48 years
before selling to News Corp. in March 1998.

"My family and I are extremely excited to have learned that the
closing is official and to have this process behind us so that we
may now move forward with our plans," McCourt said in a statement.

"We have a great deal of work ahead of us as we prepare for spring
training and the upcoming season," the statement said. "There are
several important steps that must be taken and many decisions that
must be made."

The most pressing of those decisions involves the general
manager. Dan Evans is in the final year of a three-year contract,
but McCourt said two weeks ago that Evans was merely a candidate
for his own job.

McCourt has spoken with Evans, Philadelphia Phillies assistant
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Oakland Athletics assistant GM Paul
DePodesta about the job. DePodesta is believed to be the leading
candidate.

"The GM search is going on right now," Hall said. "They're
having discussions with other individuals."

Manager Jim Tracy also has one year left on his contract.

"He's our manager. He'll be there the first day of spring
training," Hall said. "There's not a managerial search."

The status of several executives is unresolved, including that
of team president Bob Graziano.

"There's no timetable," Hall said. "The only one we have
somewhat of a timetable on is general manager. That's the only one.
It's hoped a GM will be permanently in place by the start of the
spring training. It's not 100 percent that that will happen. That
is the wish and the goal."

Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday to Dodgertown in Vero
Beach, Fla., with the first workout scheduled the following day.

Bob Daly, the team's managing partner and chief executive
officer since November 1999, left shortly before the sale was
approved by baseball owners.

"It was agreed upon that once it was approved, he was gone,"
Hall said.

The Dodgers, who last won a postseason game in the 1988 World
Series and haven't qualified for the playoffs since 1996, finished
second in the NL West with an 85-77 record last season.

With the sale pending, few changes were made during the
offseason. The Dodgers had a team ERA of 3.16 last season -- the
best in baseball -- but scored a big league-low 574 runs.

McCourt promised at a news conference the day he received
approval by baseball owners that he would do what it takes to make
the team a winner.