'Magic' Part of Guggenheim Group Purchasing LA Dodgers for Record $2 Billion3/28/2012 12:37 PM Eastern
The magic number was $2 billion.
That's what a group led by Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, and Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson are paying to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt out of bankruptcy court.
The deal, the richest ever for a pro sports franchise, would see Walter become the controlling owner, while Johnson will evidently be hands-on - he said he'll have an office at the ballpark on an interview with ESPN. Veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten - Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals - is also part of the ownership group.
Johnson also has an ownership stake in Aspire, one of four new minority-based networks that Comcast will launch as part of a 10-channel commitment the cable company made to the federal government in order to finalize its joint venture with NBCUniversal.
The Dodgers' price was no doubt driven in large part because of the prospects surrounding the team's media rights. It was unclear at presstime if incumbent rights-holder Fox Sports or Time Warner Cable, which is tipping off a pair of Los Angeles Lakers-centric regional sports networks this fall, are attached to Walter's Guggenheim's group, or the other finalists: Steve Cohen, the founder of hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors; or Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and Arsenal, as well as RSN Altitude Sports.
Both Fox -- whose Prime Ticket RSN controls Dodgers' rights through the 2013 season and which holds an exclusive 45-day negotiating window through Nov. 30, and Time Warner Cable would comment on the matter.
The team transfer from the beleaguered McCourt -- along with an affiliate group tied to the new ownership group, he will retain properties, including the parking lots, around Chavez Ravine ---is subject to approval of the bankruptcy court and Major League Baseball.