Reporting Jim Hill
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A group led by basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has been named the winning bidder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The astonishing $2 billion bid shattered the previous record of any U.S. sports franchise sale, making the Boys in Blue the world’s most valuable sports team.
The new owners include Johnson, film producer Peter Guber, former Nationals President Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Their bid, funded largely by Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, beat out a group led by Steve Cohen, one of the richest men in America.
Johnson told CBS2′s Jim Hill he’s “thrilled, honored, but mostly happy for the fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
“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,” Johnson also said in a written statement.
“This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community. We are delighted that this group will continue the important work we have started in the community, fulfilling our commitment to building 50 Dream Fields and helping with the effort to cure cancer,” McCourt, whose divorce proceedings and lavish lifestyle put the team in financial disarray, said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and “certain affiliates of the purchasers” would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.
The bid will be finalized when it’s approved by the judge overseeing the Dodgers’ bankruptcy proceeding. KCAL9 reporter Dave Lopez was told by bankruptcy experts that was probably why all parties involved remained tight-lipped about the deal Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, MLB owners narrowed the list of bidders to Johnson’s group, a group fronted by Connecticut hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Shoon-Shiong, and a group led by Stan Kroenke, whose family owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, as well as several other high-profile sports teams.
Around noon, Johnson and his associates got a call in L.A. that he should head to New York, where the deal was hammered out by midnight.
The deal for the Dodgers, said to be all in cash, was put together by Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter after he met with McCourt.
Kasten will reportedly run the day-to-day operation of the Dodgers.
And Johnson told ESPN what his position could be: “I’m not going to be picking pitchers or anything like that, but when we have free agent situations, talking to the players about winning — those type of things I’ll be doing. Also, the community, getting out and selling the Dodger brand, the Dodger team.”
Among Johnson’s partners in the Guggenheim group is Pete Gruber, a movie executive who also owns the NBA Golden State Warriors. Johnson and Gruber are investors in a minor league baseball team, the Dayton Dragons, who have sold out a record 844 consecutive games.