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The Guggenheim Baseball Group took control of the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 1; immediately, they made the fan-friendly move of lowering parking fees. All is happy in Dodger-land, right?
Not so fast. As May comes to a close, there’s word that a federal grand jury is investigating the way former owner Frank McCourt used Dodger funds during his ownership. Bill Shaikin:
A federal grand jury is investigating possible criminal financial misconduct of the Dodgers and related entities during the ownership of Frank and Jamie McCourt, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Authorities have requested documents from representatives of each of the McCourts and from Major League Baseball, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of grand jury investigations.
The investigation started early last year and appears to be focused on tax issues and possible improprieties in the spending of team funds, one of the people said.
We won’t know much of anything about this until and unless any indictments are handed down by the grand jury, because, as noted above, those investigations are supposed to be confidential.
Comparisons of McCourt and Rasputin would appear appropriate at this time. Baseball people would probably like this all to go away, but it seems we might not have heard the last of it.
Los Angeles is the land of the automobile. Public transportation isn’t what it is in eastern cities, and people drive everywhere; fans arriving late and leaving early for Dodgers games has been made fun of by visiting team broadcasters everywhere.
That’s why the announcement at the first news conference by the Dodgers’ new ownership that parking fees would be reduced from $15 to $10 brought this reaction from our SB Nation Dodgers blog:
That’s straight out of the Arte Moreno playbook. Lower prices of something on first day and fans will be on their knees for a decade
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) May 2, 2012
There’s truth to that, too, especially after the Frank McCourt ownership years turned many Dodger fans off to the team. New ownership knows it has to do things to bring fans back to the ballpark — new team president Stan Kasten also announced that the team would open gates earlier so fans could watch batting practice.
The team also bought a full-page ad in today’s Los Angeles Times, which reads, in part:
We will preserve yesterday’s traditions and create tomorrow’s memories. Our leadership team will work tirelessly to make our great fans feel appreciated — whether you come to Dodger Stadium or whether we come to you in the community.
It helps, too, that the Dodgers have a possible MVP in Matt Kemp, who is tearing up the major leagues right now, and the National League’s best record at 17-7. The group headed by Kasten and Magic Johnson and backed by billionaires is off to a rousing start.
It was just a matter of time and the final approval of the bankruptcy court until the sale of the Dodgers was approved; it was supposed to happen on Monday, but was delayed until Tuesday, for reasons that are still unclear. Still, Bill Shaikin has the tweet:
Source: #Dodgers sale has closed. McCourt era has ended.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) May 1, 2012
Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie bought the Dodgers in 2004; their messy divorce and bankruptcy that led to this sale is detailed throughout this StoryStream. Now, Dodger ownership goes to a group with money, Magic Johnson and local connections:
That’s a record for any major league baseball team sale, by a lot; the former record was the $845 million the Ricketts family paid for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.
The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin, who's been draped over this story like a cheap suit from Day 1, has the latest on the sale of the Dodgers, which remains on track for the end of this month:
The sale of the Dodgers to a group fronted by Lakers icon Magic Johnson was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday, despite strong objections from Major League Baseball.
In six hours of tense and contentious arguments, MLB tried to re-assert control over the Dodgers, saying the Commissioner Bud Selig should have control moving forward – just as he would over any other team.
The Dodgers argued many of those decisions still belonged with the court under terms of a settlement reached earlier between MLB and outgoing owner Frank McCourt when he agreed to sell.
The contentious debate seemed to surprise Judge Gross, who, as arguments grew tense, quipped, “I had no idea. I thought this was going to be a celebration-type occasion.”
The sale is set to close by April 30. If the deal closes as scheduled, the Dodgers would play their first home game under new ownership May 7, against the rival San Francisco Giants.
This really does seem like a lot of fun, with MLB arguing against the sale after devoting so much energy to getting a sale done. But that's Frank McCourt, right? The gift who just keeps on giving.
The great Horatio Alger story of our time -- boy leverages it all, boy fritters it away while ignoring his obligation to the fans of the regional treasure that he owns, boy becomes a billionaire anew for no good reason -- might not be complete just yet. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Los Angeles Times is asking a court to unseal the agreements that the new Dodgers owners have with Frank McCourt regarding the land surrounding Dodger Stadium. Presumably for a story in the Los Angeles Times.
From the Los Angeles Times:
The Dodgers have asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to file those conditions under seal, citing the "sensitive non-public commercial information" within. Attorneys for The Times argued that the Dodgers have not provided any evidence to support that claim or shown why it should outweigh "the well-established presumption of public access to judicial records."
Frank McCourt agreed last month to sell the Dodgers to Guggenheim Baseball Management in a $2.15-billion deal under which McCourt and Guggenheim will jointly own the parking lots that surround the stadium. The lots are owned by a McCourt entity that is not part of the bankruptcy filing, so Dodgers attorneys have said that details of the joint venture need not be disclosed in Bankruptcy Court.
What sort of deal did the new Dodgers owners give to McCourt in order to share the parking lots? What plans do the Dodgers have for the land? That's what the Los Angeles Times wants to find out. They're arguing that the public has a right to know, and that they should get the opportunity to read about it in the Los Angeles Times.
(Hat-tip: Los Angeles Times.)
Full disclosure: Dammit, Jim, I'm a baseball writer, not an economist. I'm pretty sure I don't have a working definition of "dividends," which I'm led to believe are important economic thingamabobs. But I'll relay this the best I can.
Frank McCourt bought the Los Angeles Dodgers with all sorts of leveraged money. He didn't have $500 million in cash lying around, so he arranged all sorts of financing that convinced Major League Baseball to approve the sale. In retrospect, that ... wasn't the best idea.
So a lot was made of the fact that the new Dodgers owners were buying the team with cash. Sweet, sweet cash. Like, not stacks of bills in a duffel bag, but money that wasn't leveraged or borrowed against something else. It was a welcome counterpoint to the McCourt purchase.
The New York Times isn't quite as impressed:
In addition to their own cash, Mr. Walter plans to use money from Guggenheim subsidiaries that are insurance companies — some state-regulated — to pay for a big chunk of his purchase of the Dodgers. Guggenheim controls Guggenheim Life, a life insurer, and Security Benefit, which manages some $30 billion, among others.
Using insurance money — which is typically supposed to be invested in simple, safe assets — to buy a baseball team, the ultimate toy for the ultrarich, seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
If I had to pick an investment, and I wanted to pick something with an almost infallible history of increasing in value, I'd pick a baseball franchise. So maybe the point is overstated, but, again, I'm a financial moron. The article sure makes it seem like this is questionable, if not shady.
The transaction seems even more questionable when considering Mr. Walter’s own words to The New York Times two weeks ago: "I don’t want to realize a return on investment on buying the Dodgers. I want to have a multigenerational relationship that changes my life, Magic’s life, Magic’s grandchildren’s lives and all of our lives."
Yeah, probably not the best quote if you're using the money of people who are absolutely expecting a return on their investment. There's a chance that none of this will change anything, and that Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten will shake babies and kiss hands at Dodger Stadium for the next couple of decades. But if you trust the Gray Lady, there could be complications.
We were supposed to be reading about the auction process for the Los Angeles Dodgers sale right now. The three bidders were supposed to be approved by the other owners as something of a formality, then there was supposed to be an auction, and then we were supposed to know what happened by the end of the week.
But the group led by Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten got really motivated and took back a bunch of aluminum cans and glass bottles that they've been meaning to get to for a while, and, well, long story short, they completely overshot the bid that everyone was expecting. And now they're talking to the Los Angeles Times. Are the Dodgers looking to spend a lot of money?
Johnson: "Other teams are doing it. It's not just the Yankees. The Angels invested a lot of money into Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. You see what the Tigers just did with Prince Fielder. Teams are investing. That's what you do when you put a winning team on the field. We're not going to be any different from those teams.
"Also, we would love to copy the Yankees' success. If you're saying, 'Do we want to be the Yankees?,' the answer is yes. We want to win the World Series. We do want to win."
Kasten: "You just gave Scott Boras his speech for next October!"
Pretty much. Even if the Dodgers are now owned by people who are just a bit more leveraged than they were at the start of the week, they'll still spend. And they're loudly proclaiming it, which means they'll have to spend a little more because agents are stupid. Ah, who cares? Have a glass of champagne. It's Cristal.
Well, maybe the headline is a little too sensational. It's not like Jon Heyman was embedded with the investment group, or doing some sort or Tom Wolfe-ish New Journalism feature. But he did talk to people, which is more than you or I have done. And he gives some of the details on the Los Angeles Dodgers/Magic Johnson/assorted billionaires deal:
The losing bidders surely were shocked a deal was done Tuesday night, before the auction. But even at auction, the others weren't expected to get close to $2 billion, and Cohen has told folks since that he wouldn't have gotten there. "No one was going near $2 billion,'' one person familiar with the process said.
The story explains one thing that was bugging me since last night, too. There was an auction scheduled for Wednesday, but the sale was announced on Tuesday. Where did the auction go? The Johnson/Kasten group offered so much money, McCourt and MLB didn't even bother with one.
In the movies, the auction goes on for a bit, but then there's a guy who says "One million dollars" from the back of the room, and everyone gasps and turns around to look. This is like that except there wasn't an auction and it was more like two thousand one hundred fifty millions.
Magic Johnson is an exceptionally wealthy man.
He doesn’t have $2 billion sitting around.
Stan Kasten is, presumably, a wealthy man.
He probably doesn’t have $20 million sitting around. Let alone $2 billion.
So when I read that the Dodgers’ prospective ownership group is “led” by Magic Johnson (and perhaps Stan Kasten), I can’t help smirking just a bit. Because the leader of the group is actually whomever’s got the $2 billion. And that seems to be a company called Guggenheim Partners.
And who or what is Guggenheim Partners? From Walter Hamilton (via the L.A. Times):
Guggenheim Partners is connected to the family of Meyer Guggenheim, who came to the U.S. in the 1840s and made a fortune in mining. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is named after the family.
Peter Lawson Johnston II, a great-grandson of the Guggenheim’s patriarch, launched the financial services company in 2000. The company is run day to day by chief executive Mark Walter and executive chairman Alan Schwartz, the former CEO of Bear Stearns & Co.
The firm is a full-fledged investment bank in the mold of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley … The firm manages about $125 billion in assets.
There you go. Welcome to the future of Major League Baseball, friends. These days it’s about billions, rather than millions. Lots of billions, if you want in.
The previous estimates had the price of the Los Angeles Dodgers hovering around $1.2 to $1.5 billion. So when they sold for $2.15 billion -- straight cash, homey -- there were a lot of spit-takes. That's the previous estimate of the Dodgers plus the Forbes' valuation of the Cardinals thrown on top.
And ESPN Los Angeles interviewed some economically minded people to see what they thought.
"It's the craziest deal ever; it makes no sense. That's why you saw so many groups drop out," said Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan sports management professor. "I don't get it. The numbers just don't work."
Reading into the subtext of this vague quote, it appears as if Dr. Rosentraub is a little baffled by the deal.
"It was an extraordinary and surprising price," said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College. "I rarely admit to not anticipating these things but I did not anticipate a $2 billion price ... At the end of the day, you have to question this deal."
Zimbalist is a well-known expert on baseball economics, and he goes on to explain that the Dodgers shouldn't expect an initial spending spree on players, citing the necessary renovations for Dodger Stadium and the capital costs involved with the purchase.
Dodgers fans, though? Still giddy. Chad Moriyama says that fans shouldn't care what the economists think right now:
In the end, I don’t actually care whether the owners are making a profit hand over fist or are breaking even or are in the red, all I care about is whether the Dodgers will be a better team on the field with them in charge.
The important thing here, I think, is that everyone hates Frank McCourt.
Jon Weisman (via Variety):
Tuesday's record purchase price for the Los Angeles Dodgers, by a group including Magic Johnson and Peter Guber, reflects the confidence the new owners have that the value of the franchise's local TV rights will fulfill the highest projections.
After all, the principal buyer of the Dodgers, spending $2 billion for the team plus another $150 million to be in a partnership for the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, is the Chicago-based investment firm Guggenheim Partners (led by CEO Mark Walter), so it's hard to position the purchase as simply a mere hobby with no regard for its financial bona fides.
The next TV contract for the Dodgers, whose current deal with Fox expires after the 2013 season, is expected to go for unprecedented dollars because of the team's fundamental importance in the Los Angeles sports television landscape -- an importance only enhanced by the 180-degree turnabout of having the beloved Johnson as co-owner in place of McCourt, who with his ex-wife Jamie came to be reviled by fans for their management of the team's finances.
Weisman goes on to identify the main players, but for most of that's irrelevant. All that matters is this: The Dodgers might actually be worth $2 billion because their next TV deal is going to generate massive revenues, which should allow them to sport one of the sport's largest payrolls for as many years as you care to think ahead.
Yeah. Watch out, rest of the National League West.
That said, the Dodgers have been one of the richest franchises in the National League for quite some time. And yet they've won just two World Series since 1964, and haven't played in one at all since 1988.
Money can buy almost everything, except love and World Series rings.
It's funny, how everybody's talking about Magic Johnson while essentially ignoring the money (Guggenheim Partners) and the brains (Stan Kasten) behind the operation.
Which isn't to suggest that Magic's not a sharp guy. He is. But he's never run a major professional sports franchise, while Kasten's run a bunch of them, generally quite well. From Ken Rosenthal:
"If they have Stan Kasten in their group, who else would run their team?" asked Kasten’s friend and former associate, Braves president John Schuerholz.
"You’ve got one of the most successful guys in our business, in professional sport."
"If you have good knowledge, good experience, good expertise and money? I’ve always said that the combination (makes) for a successful franchise."
He was named general manager of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks at 27. He is the only NBA executive to win back-to-back Executive of the Year awards. At one point, he was team president of three professional sports franchises — the Braves, Hawks and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers — plus chairman of the Philips Arena in Atlanta.
The Braves were successful in part because Kasten delegated most baseball decisions in Schuerholz. With the Dodgers, one of Kasten’s first major decisions will be whether to retain GM Ned Colletti. Kasten won’t necessarily bring in his own man — he promoted Mike Rizzo to Nationals GM rather than look outside the organization. Then again, Kasten also made sure to hire statistical analysts to complement Rizzo’s scouting background.
And then there's Jayson Werth. Which isn't fair, I know. Just worth remembering that even good organizations do things that make you wonder.
Kasten's said positive things about the Dodgers' front office, but my guess is that Colletti's going to be on a fairly short leash. Still, while it's fashionable to castigate Colletti, since he became GM in 2005 the Dodgers own the third-best winning percentage in the National League, and for much of his tenure he's been saddled with dysfunctional ownership. So unless Kasten's already got someone else in mind for the job, there's probably good reason to see what Colletti can do with a little support from his bosses.
Seeing as you're in this stream, you're aware that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been sold by a bad owner to a group of potentially very good owners. The group is made up of rich men nobody cares about and Magic Johnson, and if I could express the public response in one sentence, it would read "MAGIC @$&^ING JOHNSON HOT DIGGITY *%#@ !!($"
People are excited about Magic Johnson taking over the Dodgers. Magic Johnson isn't really taking over the Dodgers, but he's partnered with good people who seem committed to putting money in the team and re-establishing the franchise as one of the best in baseball. Many of the problems are going away. The payroll is going up.
Josh Hamilton is the biggest name free agent this offseason, and is arguably the best player on the free agent market, depending on how you think he compares to, , and .
The Dodgers' outfield currently consists of, , and a black hole. Ethier is a free agent after the season. Hamilton is one of the most marketable and popular players in the game right now. And the Dodgers will have money to spend.
It's really easy to see. Of course, Hamels going to the Dodgers is really easy to see, too, but then, why choose one when you can afford both? The Dodgers were sold for the highest franchise price in sports history. What we've learned from this is that Magic Johnson earned his nickname for a reason, seeing as he can create a pile of money from nothing whenever and wherever he wants.
Next offseason, the Dodgers are going to be big players. They'll want big talent and big names. Names don't get a lot bigger than Josh Hamilton. Unless we're talking William VanLandingham.
Jon Paul Morosi tried to capture the spirit of Dodgertown with his article on the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers:
Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers to Magic Johnson.
Let the people rejoice.
Yeah, absolutely. Dodgers fans didn't deserve Frank McCourt. That guy was a travesty, and Major League Baseball should be ashamed that he was ever an owner.
If I had told them Magic Johnson would be their owner in one year’s time, they would have kissed me.
That is one of the classic pick-up lines of our time, for sure. I met my wife by telling her that Magic Johnson would own her in a year.
And now, in the giddy epilogue to that wrenching November day 20 years ago, (Magic Johnson) has come to rescue the Dodgers.
Giddy. That's a good word to describe the Dodger fans in my Twitter timeline last night. They were giddy. The nightmare was over. And it must be especially poignant to have one of the buyers be one of the greatest Los Angeles sports icons to ever live, if not the greatest.
From this day forward, when Dodgers fans see Frank McCourt around town, the word before "you" will be "thank."
The needle scratches. The music stops. Everybody at the party turns around, canapé in mid-chew, wondering who might have possibly muttered something so awful.
Yeah, pretty sure that the word before "you" will still rhyme with a part of Travis Buck's name. "Spavis you," they'll all say to Frank. Let's not go crazy, here. McCourt was forced to sell his team for billions of dollars. It's not like he was threatening to donate it to the YMCA.
But it's a day of forgiveness, apparently, and Frank McCourt can be treated to headlines like these:
Dodgers' Frank McCourt Leaves Baseball As Its Most Successful Owner Ever
Buy a team without using lot of cash, thanks to the help of Major League Baseball. Use the team as a personal checking account to dip into whenever you need a new liquid-platinum-filled pool. Run the team into the ground. File for bankruptcy. Then escape with a billion dollars. It's all so adorable.
Remember, everyone in Los Angeles, you're supposed to say "Thank you!"
The mood across the Dodgers-loving world: elated. Ecstatic. It's a mixture of disbelief and pure joy. The man who ruined the Dodgers is gone. A group of extraordinarily rich people -- the kind that spend the extra $1 for avocado on their sandwiches and don't even care -- rode up on white horses, and now the Dodgers are fixed.
They're going to go out and buy every player in the world. Albert Pujols will be a Dodger soon. Against the rules, Selig? Here's a couple hundred million to make you rethink that. Buy yourself something nice.
The excitement is understandable. But Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk says that we should just hollllld on there for a second:
I think it’s possible to blow this up a bit too much…
… this is a huge amount of money being invested in the Dodgers. So much so that, no matter how optimistic the projections are regarding a TV deal and future revenues are, there are likely to be some financial restraints in play, aren’t there? I mean, you can’t spend $2 billion on a team and then expect to have no limit on payroll, can you? The current Yankees ownership group invested something like $10 million originally, they have higher revenues and even they have a budget.
But they probably won't be the Yankees just yet, pushing payroll past the $200 million mark every year and not worrying about the luxury tax (until recently). The people who paid that money are going to want to turn a profit. Year-to-year profits and losses can be deceiving because the real value is in the franchise itself, but it's going to take a while for the Dodgers to be worth more than $2.15 billion dollars.
There will be changes -- no more fancy organic raccoon farms to make them Dodger Dogs, people -- but Calcaterra phrases it well in his headline: Magic Johnson is no panacea. Not yet. The only thing we know for sure is that he'll be a million billion million times better than Frank and Jamie McCourt.
On Tuesday night, the reports began to come out that the Los Angeles Dodgers had finally been sold. The early news was that the group led by Magic Johnson had placed the winning bid, which was in the neighborhood of $2 billion.
On Wednesday morning, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com posted the official news on the official Dodgers website, confirming that Johnson's group had indeed purchased the team for the $2 billion dollar figure, which included the Dodgers franchise and Dodger Stadium.
The sale officially is to Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, which includes Mark R. Walter as its controlling partner, Johnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Current owner Frank McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property and parking lots for an additional $150 million.
Including money for extra land around the stadium and the parking lots, the total sale price for the entire transaction comes to $2.3 billion.
The final dollar amount is by far the most ever paid for a sports franchise. Frank and Jamie McCourt initially paid $371 million for the team in 2004.
Breaking from WSJ: Magic Johnson-led group buys LA Dodgers for $2 billion, shattering all previous prices paid for sports franchises.— Dennis K. Berman (@dkberman) March 28, 2012
Two billion dollars. Possibly even more.
The Dodgers were put up for sale after Major League Baseball assumed fiscal control over the franchise following financial skullduggery on the part of Frank McCourt, who was allegedly using the team as something of an ATM. Previous estimates had the Dodgers pegged at about $1.5 billion, including one recent one from Forbes.
The big name is Magic Johnson, Los Angeles basketball legend, but he was a part of a group that had the support of Guggenheim Partners and Stan Kasten, among others. That doesn't mean anything to me. I stopped to marvel at Magic Johnson's name. The recruitment of other investors was probably why Johnson was a part of this.
The Dodgers are now in better hands, and those hands are probably looking to make a return on this ridiculous amount of money. Maybe by getting some better players?
"I wish we had the team already, I would have been at Albert Pujols' house at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of free agency," Johnson said with a laugh. "I can't wait."
That's from a December story from the Los Angeles Times. Because when you spend $2 billion, what's a couple hundred million among friends?
Our long regional nightmare is almost over. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been in baseball limbo for close to a year -- albeit, a limbo that allowed them to hand out two-year deals like real-estate flyers this offseason -- but there should be a new ownership group for the team as soon as tomorrow. From the Los Angeles Times:
Major league owners are expected to approve the three remaining Dodgers bidders on Tuesday, enabling Frank McCourt to start an auction for the team on Wednesday.
By the time the auction is over -- late Wednesday, perhaps, or later this week -- the Dodgers are expected to be sold for a record price for a North American sports franchise.
The final three bidders are groups led by Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong (never heard of 'em), Stan Kroenke (who?), and Magic Johnson (MAGIC JOHNSON!).
The auction is likely to start on Wednesday, and while it probably wont be a scenario with a guy talking really fast and holding a gavel while the three bidders hold a stick with a number attached to the end, it's a lot funnier if you pretend that's what it will be like.
Magic Johnson! He was that guy who was on The Simpsons! And he could be one of the new owners by the end of the week.
Check that, horrific Dodger Stadium renovation plans.
Oh, it's easy to be a traditionalist or someone resistant to change. Takes all of the thinking out of it. It doesn't take a lot of brainpower to hate anything and everything that's different. Makes things easier.
But this is objectively hideous, right?
That's from the Los Angeles Times, who report former Dodgers' pitcher Orel Hershiser has plans to renovate Dodger Stadium, complete with a discomfiting picture of an upper-deck structure in right field, and he's sharing the plans with most of the Dodgers' prospective buyers.
This picture -- BROUGHT TO YOU BY BIG 5 -- shows a new structure in right field, and the center-field scoreboard -- BROUGHT TO YOU BY BIG 5 -- is supposed to help Dodger Stadium become a "futuristic electronic showcase" according to Hershiser. This presumably refers to Dodger Dogs being packed with nanobots that actively fight against diarrhea from the first bite. Godspeed, nanobots. Godspeed.
It seems like years since the process of selling the Los Angeles Dodgers began. (In fact, it doesn’t just seem so, it is so.)
By next week, the winning bidder in the court-ordered process will be identified. As of Friday, the list was reduced to three. Bill Shaikin:
The three finalists include a group led by hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen and Los Angeles billionaire and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong; a group led by Magic Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten; and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
MLB owners will vote next week and McCourt has until April 6 to bring a sale agreement to U.S. Bankruptcy Court. There’s one final rub, though:
McCourt was offered between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion in the most recent round of bids. However, negotiations have not taken place, and it is uncertain how the purchase price might be affected if McCourt refuses to include the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale. McCourt has said he intends to sell the team but keep the lots, in accordance with his rights under his settlement with MLB.
It doesn’t seem to me as if any new Dodgers ownership group would want to buy the team and the stadium and not own the parking lots. This could be a real sticking point.
People mostly remember Joe Torre as an outstanding player, or as an outstanding manager (or as manager of outstanding teams). Once Torre stopped managing, though, he took a job with Major League Baseball, serving as the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations. He held that position in 2011, then resigned on January 4, 2012 to pursue an ownership opportunity with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That didn't work out, and MLB never hired anybody in Torre's place, so maybe this was inevitable:
Torre gets old job back as Exec VP, baseball operations. MLB did not fill job after he resigned Jan 4 to join Rick Caruso's #Dodgers bid.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 23, 2012
Torre generally did a good job as baseball's "Discipline Czar", according to the most advanced metrics we have at our disposal. So his return is entirely unobjectionable. I'm sure there are people who would object, because there are always people who would object, but there are also always people who will vote for the worst option in any and every online poll, no matter how stupid. Pay no mind to the extremists.
If a consortium of the ultra-wealthy and super-ultra-mega-wealthy drop $1.5 billion for a professional sports team, they aren't doing it for the free t-shirts. They're going to want to recoup their investment, and the best way for a quick cash grab would be to sell the naming rights to their stadium.
Not news. Unless the stadium in question is the venerable Dodger Stadium. From the Los Angeles Times:
At least one party bidding on the Dodgers has inquired about the possibility of selling naming rights to Dodger Stadium, according to records filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court
TMZ Park at Dodger Fields. The Dodgers Baseball Experience at Universal Studios' Dodger Stadium. Death Row Records Stadium. Vivid Entertainment Fields.
Okay, enough of that. But you can see that the idea is kind of gross. There probably isn't anything that baseball could or would do to stop it, and everyone would likely just call it Dodger Stadium until whatever company that acquired the rights died off. But in the short-term, some billionaires would get some money back and annoy us all at the same time. That's what is really important here.
Again, though, this is just one bidder asking just in case. There's nothing in the works other than that. It's an idea that's gross enough to bring to your attention, though.
Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt needs to choose a winning bidder for the team by April 1, and he needs to sell the team by April 30. Before he can do that, though, he has to whittle down the pool of suitors with the help of the other owners in Major League Baseball, who need to approve the new owners and teach them the secret fist bump. According to Forbes, the parties involved have done just that:
A person familiar with the meetings held today between the seven groups remaining in the bidding for Frank McCourt’s Dodgers and Major League Baseball said the league’s owners were impressed with offers from the following parties: billionaire hedge fund titan Steve Cohen and agent Art Tellem; Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten; billionaire St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke; Memphis Grizzlies billionaire owner Michael Heisley and investor Tony Ressler and Stanley Gold, chief executive officer of Shamrock Holdings, the investment company of the family of the late Roy Disney.
If McCourt is interested in the highest bid, it's with Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, who have reportedly bid $1.6 billion. But Forbes seems to think that Steve Cohen is in tight with Allan H. (Bud) Selig, which might be worth more than the $200 million difference between his bid and the Magic/Kasten bid. We'll know in a couple of weeks who will be the group with ultimate veto power over any James Loney extension talks.
Outgoing owner Frank McCourt has agreed to identify a winning bidder by April 1 and close the sale by April 30.
Now, also according to the article, the 11 groups or individuals that remain interested in the team must give the company handling the sale new information:
Blackstone Advisory Partners, which is handling the sale, has asked the remaining groups to identify their investors, detail their financing and outline five-year business plans for the club, the Times reported.
Blackstone whittled the original field of prospective owners to 11 last month, based on its assessment of which bidders could put up at least $1.5 billion for the storied National League franchise.
The $1.5 billion price, which would be the largest sale price for a franchise in the history of major league baseball, would presumably include the valuable broadcast rights now held by the team. According to the article, some of the groups include one headed by former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, another fronted by former LA manager Joe Torre, another including former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson and one that’s backed by the family of the late Roy Disney, nephew of Disney founder Walt Disney.
Peter O'Malley, former Dodgers owner, is putting together a group to bid on the team. One of his partners comes from overseas.
Pretty soon (if not soon enough) we'll likely have heard the last of Frank and Jamie McCourt. But first there are a few hundred million dollars to be gotten.
It's pretty early to analyze seriously what a Joe Torre ownership group would mean for the Dodgers -- there are other, high-powered groups vying for the team, after all -- but it's not too early to start speculating, which is exactly what Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness does:
Obviously this is far, far away, but it’s interesting to try to imagine what Torre might do if he returned to the team with some sort of executive power, similar to Nolan Ryan in Texas. You’d have to think he’d fight hard to retain Don Mattingly, as Shaikin also suggests, but what do we really know about his relationship with Ned Colletti?
And as Bill Shaikin notes:
If you're Don Mattingly, you're rooting hard for Joe Torre's group to buy the #Dodgers. Best chance to keep your job.
I can personally guarantee that if the Dodgers were to forge ahead with Colletti and Mattingly, it would be an exciting development. For Giants fans. But, again, it's still too early to get too deep with this.
Joe Torre told Major League Baseball before the holidays that he was going to resign from his post to pursue a position with a group looking to purchase the Dodgers, and in the meantime, MLB will use a closer-by-committee approach to replacing him, in which "closer" is defined as "discipline czar." From Jerry Crasnick:
Joe Garagiola Jr., Kim Ng and Peter Woodfork will do Torre's job in the interim while MLB looks for a replacement.
And as far as a permanent replacement goes, Jon Heyman throws Andy MacPhail as a possible replacement, probably because of his experience meting out punishment to the greater Baltimore area.
Torre is joining forces with Los Angeles real-estate developer Rick Caruso, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
"The Dodgers are an iconic franchise, and I am thrilled to partner with Joe Torre, one of baseball's all-time greats, to launch a bid for this storied organization," Caruso said in a statement. "Joe has a proven track record of fielding winning teams and I am looking forward to our group benefiting from his unique experience.
Torre joins a group that faces serious competition in their pursuit of the Dodgers. Both Magic Johnson and Steve Garvey are part of separate groups also making a similar bid.
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