November 23, 2014

Showtime is Coming to Chavez Ravine!

Somebody pinch me…quick. Did that really happen?  Is the Wicked Witch of Los Angeles really dead?  Twitter nearly exploded with euphoria from Dodger fans at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday night when it was revealed that Magic Johnson’s group (comprised of Magic, baseball executive Stan Kasten, money man Mark Walter of financial services firm Guggenheim Partners and Hollywood executive Peter Gruber) was selected by Frank McCourt as the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion – a staggering fee.

And what about those parking lots that Dodger fans have been worrying about?  Turns out the land around the stadium was also part of the deal, with Frank McCourt coming along as a (wait for it) silent partner.

Magic released a statement through the Dodgers Tuesday night: “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.”

Ok, now what? I find it hard to believe this group bid such an astronomical sum (the most any North American sports franchise has ever sold for) and doesn’t plan on building a dynasty that will compete right out of the gate and for years to come.  We all know Magic’s a winner, and the fans in LA will expect nothing else now.

Think about it: the new Dodger owners have exceptionally deep pockets through the Guggenheim Group, a seasoned baseball man (Kasten was the longtime president of the Atlanta Braves and also the Washington Nationals) and an LA sports legend in Magic Johnson who also is a phenomenally successful businessman.  Does it get better than that?  Kasten and Magic should have the resources to put together a monster team around Kershaw, Kemp and Mattingly.

And in the battle of LA, Magic Johnson trumps Albert Pujols.  It’s time for Dodger baseball!

Photo Credit: sojones.com

Decision on Ownership of the Dodgers Expected This Week

To describe the slow, grinding road toward the eventual sale of the Dodgers as tortuous would be too kind, but my friends, the end is in sight.  The final three bidders have been identified, and per Bill Shaikin, a modified auction will take place with Frank McCourt selecting the eventual winner.  The two parties then have until April 3o to close on the transaction.

While there are lots of details still to be worked out, Shaikin’s article answers some of the most burning questions Dodger fans have.  The most interesting, of course, is what happens to the Dodger Stadium parking lots.  If Dodger fans have their way, they will be part of the sale, leaving McCourt with no stake in Chavez Ravine.  Per Bill Shaikin:

McCourt and his advisers have projected a sale price of at least $1.5 billion. Is that going to happen?
That might depend on whether McCourt includes the Dodger Stadium parking lots in the sale. The bidders would like him to sell the lots. He is not required to do so, and he has said he intends to keep them.

If he does, the offers for the Dodgers could drop to the point in which McCourt might not make much more than $1.1 billion, the approximate amount he needs to pay off debts and taxes, according to multiple people familiar with the sale process. McCourt could bet on revenue from future development.

The parking lot options might not be limited to “sell” or “keep.” A bidder could get an option to buy them a later date, for example, or offer McCourt a share of any development revenue.

So what does that really mean?  Well, if the parking lots are not included and the offers come in “low” (around the $1.1 billion mark), McCourt may change his mind and include them in the deal, driving up the value of the offers and leaving him with a profit after taking care of the debt, taxes and his divorce settlement.  And if I was a betting man, I would say that favors the really rich ownership bid of billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen and local LA billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

But if there’s one thing Dodger fans have learned over the past few years, Frank McCourt rarely does what’s expected, so buckle up and get ready for some fireworks.

 

The Richest Man in LA Joins Forces with Other Rich Guys in Bidding for Dodgers

Magic Johnson has to be bummed this evening as, per the all-knowing Bill Shaikin, Patrick Soon-Shiong (also known as the Richest Man in LA and part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers) has chosen to join billionaire Steve Cohen’s bid to buy the Dodgers.  Cohen’s a relative unknown in LA, so adding Soon-Shiong adds some LA muscle to his bid, and most likely some added cash to at least match the $1.6 billion that Magic’s group has bid so far (although Cohen has offered the most cash at $900 million).  And while it’s certainly exciting to see two guys that have such deep pocketbooks teaming up to bid on the Dodgers, like many fans, I’ve been rooting for Magic Johnson’s group to land Soon-Shiong, if only for a return to local ownership and a greater sense of loyalty with the fans.  Mark Oznian of Forbes recently reported on the arms race for dollars currently going on amongst the rich guys still in the running, including Magic’s group reportedly adding film producer Peter Gruber last week.

It just seems unfathonable to me that out of the collection of billionaires lining up for the Dodgers, none so far has seemed to be able to get McCourt to let go of the parking lots.  In the end, I’ll take any owner that is committed to this team, the fans and building a winner here in Los Angeles.  Spring officially starts tomorrow, and a new beginning for the Dodgers is just around the corner – April 30th can’t come soon enough.

Photo Credit: Lee Salem / Los Angeles Times