LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Dodgers, the storied Major League Baseball franchise that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, are seeking the bankruptcy court’s permission to retain corporate and financial public relations specialist Kekst and Company for crisis support, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The Dodgers, with an estimated value of $727 million according to Forbes magazine, are owned by Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt, who bought the team from News Corp in 2004 and has since taken out more than $100 million in loans. McCourt has been the subject of intense criticism from Dodgers fans.
According to the filing in US Bankruptcy Court, "Much of the media reporting on off-field issues has been inaccurate or misleading, and LAD [Los Angeles Dodgers] requires a seasoned communications firm such as Kekst to better ensure that media coverage of LAD is more evenhanded and accurate going forward."
Kekst has reportedly been working for the Dodgers for at least a year, but the court’s permission is required if payments—reported by the Times as $750 an hour for one counselor and $400 for another—are to continue. Kekst partner Robert Siegfried, who splits his time between the firm’s New York headquarters and its burgeoning west coast operations, has apparently been working on the Dodgers account.
The filing goes on to say: “It is self-evident that the financial success of the Dodgers depends heavily on the goodwill of its fan base. This is true not only for revenues that are derived from attendance at games, but also for ratings on its television and radio broadcasts and in the sale of its merchandise. The ability to derive revenues from all of those sources is impacted heavily by media coverage of the team, as best evidenced by the decline in attendance, which many attribute to the negative publicity surrounding the team."