Nearly 32 years after Magic Johnson won his first NBA title with the Lakers, Number 32 again sits atop the Los Angeles sports landscape. But though Johnson will be the new face of the Los Angeles Dodgers, there is much more to the new ownership group of the team, which will ultimately decide the fate of the iconic franchise.
Magic is one of six partners of Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, the group that agreed to purchase the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for $2.15 billion. The initial overwhelming reaction of Dodgers fans is one of euphoria that McCourt is finally gone, or at least he will be by April 30, the date the sale must close by per agreement in Delaware Bankruptcy Court.
There are still a few steps to the transaction, but both appear to be minor roadblocks. First, the sale must be approved by the bankruptcy court, but there's no way an all cash offer, as the Wall Street Journal reported, is going to be denied. Secondly, Major League Baseball can review the terms of the deal, but Magic's group was already pre-approved by the MLB ownership committee, so these hurdles are merely minor speed bumps in the parking lot.
Speaking of the parking lot, McCourt will still technically be around as the $150 million tacked onto to the $2 billion sale price was the price for McCourt to partially relinquish the land around Dodger Stadium, which was a minor sticking point in the deal. McCourt and the Guggenheim Group will jointly own the land, and as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, the new owners control the parking lots and McCourt and the Guggenheim Group would have to jointly approve any development on said land, with the new owners able to veto any plans.
Magic is certainly the face of the new ownership, but the controlling partner in the group is Mark R. Walter, the CEO of Guggenheim Partners, which manages over $125 billion in assets. Stan Kasten, longtime baseball executive with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, is also part of the group.
There will be change coming for the Dodgers, but it's important for fans to be patient as moves won't happen overnight. Then again, the group didn't spend $2 billion, roughly two and a half times the previous record for sale price of an MLB team, to rest on their laurels.
With a new television deal expected in the coming months in the $4 billion range, the team will have plenty of revenue coming in. While the new ownership want to make a splash by adding to the payroll in 2012, it is unclear just who could be added - David Wright, anyone? - and since any addition would likely come via trade that will take time to develop.
But there will be plenty of time to worry about what moves the new ownership group will make. For now, fans can bask in the glow of Magic Johnson once again ruling Los Angeles. It's Showtime in the boardroom.
"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 said in a release about the sale.
There is no doubt the Dodgers are on the front page now, but it will be winning that keeps them there.
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