Magic Johnson, former Los Angeles Lakers star, has purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion. Johnson purchased the team with baseball executive Stan Kasten. Should the sale be approved, it would shatter the record for the sale of a sports franchise. In 2009, the Miami Dolphins were purchased by Stephen Ross for $1.1 billion. In England, Malcolm Glazer purchased the Manchester United soccer team in 2005 for $1.47 billion.
“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt,” Magic Johnson said.
The controlling owner of the team would be Mark Walter, who is the chief executive officer of the Guggenheim Partners. The sale should be complete by the end of April, which must be approved in federal bankruptcy court.
“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 statement.
In the agreement, McCourt and ‘certain affiliates of the purchases’ would also acquire land around Dodger Stadium that includes its parking lots, for a price tag of $150 million.
“If they invested that much money, I’m sure they’ll invest to get us a winner,” said Tommy Lasorda, the retired manager of the Dodgers. “I wish them all the luck, and I admire them. I know both of them. I know Magic from the day he came into Los Angeles as a basketball player for the Lakers.”
The group acquiring the Dodgers, Guggenheim Baseball Management, also has other investors. Some of those investors include Mandalay Entertainment chief executive Peter Guber and partners in Guggenheim Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton. Kasten used to work as the president of the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals.
“I am truly honored to have partnered with such talented individuals and to be associated with the Dodgers organization,” Walter said. “We look forward to building upon the legacy of the Dodgers and providing long-term stability to one of the most revered franchises in baseball.”
Johnson spent 13 seasons with the Lakers. He won five championships and took home three MVP awards during his Hall of Fame career.
The Dodgers were purchased by McCourt in 2004 for $430 million. He also purchased Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that includes parking lots. The purchase came from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The sale in 2004 left the team with only $50 million in cash. As of January of this year, the Dodgers had a debt of $579 million after a divorce payment of $131 million to McCourt’s ex-wife Jamie.
McCourt said in a statement that:
“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.”