Frank McCourt is officially divorcing himself from the Los Angeles Dodgers.  McCourt and his wife, Jamie, owned the Dodgers for seven years before experiencing legal troubles, filing for bankruptcy protection, and fighting through a messy divorce that directly impacted the ownership of the team.

McCourt and Major League Baseball settled to sell one of the most popular teams in the sport late Tuesday, November 2, 2011.  The announcement came as the Dodgers and MLB were due in Bankruptcy Court in Delaware at the end of the month. 

The demise of the franchise grew out of Frank McCourt’s drawn out divorce with Jamie McCourt and the couple’s dispute over the ownership of the team. The divorce, played out publicly in court, highlighted the former couple’s exorbitant spending on mansions and beach homes and their use of the team as a personal credit card.  According to divorce documents, they took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodgers-related businesses for their own personal use.  Indeed, in bankruptcy filings, attorneys for MLB said McCourt “looted” more than $180 million in revenues from the club for personal use.  In fact one baseball attorney wrote, “The Dodgers are in bankruptcy because Mr. McCourt has taken almost $190 million out of the club and has completely alienated the Dodgers’ fan base.”

As if the former couple’s battle over the ownership of the team wasn’t enough negative press; the Dodgers’ home opener against the San Francisco Giants further marred the franchise’s reputation.  The game was overshadowed by a horrific fight that took place between several Dodger fans and a Giants fan attending the game with his family. The Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was beaten nearly to death and spent several months in a coma.  Stow’s family has sued the Dodgers, and according to his attorney, medical bills could reach up to $50 million.

All of the bad publicity and lack of direction in the organization has driven fans away. There was a 21 percent drop in home attendance from last season, and it was the first time in a non-strike year since 1992 that the Dodgers drew fewer than 3 million people.