Do you believe in Magic? For an astounding $2.15 billion dollars, a sum decided Tuesday night, Frank McCourt believes. That's how much the Los Angeles Dodgers will cost Magic Johnson's group, the Wall Street Journal reports. Johnson's consortium beat out two others — one that included St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and another that included billionaire Steve Cohen and former major-league manager Tony La Russa.
The record amount for a major-league team would top the $845 million the Ricketts family paid in 2010 for the Chicago Cubs. More importantly to Dodgers fans, it will take McCourt out of the Dodgers ownership loop after eight long years. McCourt bought the franchise for $430 million in 2004 but took it into bankruptcy. Well, he won't be bankrupt anymore once the deal closes.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that there was no auction for the team, and that Magic's group also would control the parking lots around Dodger Stadium. (McCourt reportedly had been haggling over them.)
Johnson plans a news conference Wednesday in New York (but it's highly unlikely that he's moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn).
Most of the money to buy the team wouldn't come from Johnson himself but from a firm called Guggenheim Baseball Partners, whose CEO is Mark Walter. Baseball operations would be headed by Stan Kasten, who used to be president of the Washington Nationals and, more successfully beforehand, the Atlanta Braves.
So Dodgers fans can rejoice because the McCourt nightmare is ending, and because it's Magic to the rescue.
Johnson, famous of course for being one of the best players in NBA history with the Los Angeles Lakers, has become even more respected in business. But just because you're a great former NBA player, it doesn't make you a great team owner — just ask Michael Jordan, who owns the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. But Magic pledges to bring the Dodgers back to greatness.
He was even complimentary to McCourt in a statement:
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles."
"Front page of the sports section." Newspapers — how quaint! What a diplomat, too, because when Magic refers to the "foundation" laid by McCourt, he means the asphalt in the parking lots at Chavez Ravine.
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