Dodger Reach Deal with Magic Johnson-Led Group
The ownership of the Dodgers has been awarded to the group led by Magic Johnson, the legendary Lakers player whose lineage of championship and community work has earned him the status as the most loved sports figure in the history of Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, the winning bid of $2 billion was announced, which was a record-setting price for any sports franchise. Additionally, Frank McCourt, owner of the Dodgers, along with specified affiliates of the purchasing group, would purchase the area surrounding Dodger Stadium at a price of $150 million.
Johnson made a statement that said he was thrilled to be part of the historic franchise. He added that he intended to build on the excellent foundation that McCourt had laid, as they worked at driving the Dodgers back to the headlines in Los Angeles.
The legendary team has faced up to three years of turmoil, and the wrapped-up bid is seen as the perfect cap. During the three years of mediocrity, McCourt had spent over $25 million in a vain attempt to keep ownership.
In an auction guided by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Johnson group was chosen over a group led by Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams, as well as a partnership formed between Patrick Soon-Shiong and Steven Cohen, biotech and hedge-fund billionaires respectively.
The last time that the Dodgers won the World Series was in 1988, which had been their sixth championship in five hundred years of ownership by the O’Malley family. Johnson’s group would now become the third owner of the franchise, ever since the 1998 sale iof the O’Malleys to News Corp and eventually to McCourt.
A court hearing is set to confirm the sale on April 13, with the transaction set to be concluded by April 30. Interestingly, the closing date is the same day that McCourt is required to pay $131 million to his ex-wife in a settlement of divorce.
If the transaction goes as expected, the new owners of the Dodgers would be an entity named Guggenheim Baseball Partners. Stan Kasten, former president of the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, would be running the franchise.
Johnson described Kasten as “his man” when he announced his bid in The Times last December. “He’s a winner,” he said, adding that the man had built two great organizations and was very well respected. These were reportedly the important factors to him, as he wanted a person who understood baseball “inside and out.”
Guggenheim Partners, which is a financial services firm based in Chicago, provides the bulk of the funding for the transaction. Chief executive Mark Walter took part in the auction for the ownership as well as in meetings with other owners of Major League Baseball, but he will likely not be significantly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Dodgers.
A small stake would go to Johnson and Peter Buger, who is a veteran executive in Hollywood and Golden State Warriors co-owner. These two are partner in a minor league baseball team called the Dayton Dragons, which has sold out 844 straight games, a consistent record in professional sports in the U.S.