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Monday's filing marks a dramatic attempt by Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to keep the league and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig from seizing the team, which McCourt has owned since 2004.
In a court filing, the team said it had been "on the verge of running out of cash" but that the Chapter 11 filing will allow it to meet payroll, sign players, pay vendors and continue playing baseball.
McCourt has been struggling to meet payroll and other financial commitments, having been heavily in debt and locked in a bitter divorce battle with his estranged wife Jamie. The bankruptcy could lead to new ownership for the Dodgers.
"The filing preserves the status quo and prevents baseball from invoking its powers to take control," said Jack Williams, a professor at Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta who specializes in sports law. "Major League Baseball will have a major, if not the predominant, voice in the ultimate ownership structure for the team."
On June 20, the league vetoed the Dodgers' proposed $3 billion, 17-year television contract with News Corp's Fox, saying it would not be in the best interests of the team, the game and fans.
Selig criticized the use of part of a $385 million upfront payment to fund McCourt's divorce. McCourt has said the payment was crucial to the Dodgers' financial health.
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