With all the turmoil that's surrounded the Dodgers the past couple of years, it seems only fitting that the organization finally found some 'Magic' the night before the beginning of the regular season.
Reports from New York surfaced Tuesday evening that a group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for $2 billion.
Guggenheim Partners is the name of the group that is buying the historic L.A. franchise, with Mark Walter, chief executive officer of financial services, being named the controlling owner. The deal was revealed just hours after Major League Baseball owners approved the three finalists that would be extended an invitation for auction; one of the several steps towards making the sale official by the end of April. The deal still needs to 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 released statement.
Just hours before MLB's scheduled first pitch in Japan, and nine days from the Dodger's home opener, players, fans and personnel will finally get to feel the peace of mind that comes from getting a fresh start on the first day of the season. But questions still remain. Did the new owners pay too much? And is Frank McCourt still going to be involved with the team?
The $2 billion price tag shatters the previous record for the most money spent on a North American franchise. Stephen Ross held that mark after he bought the Miami Dolphins in 2009 for $1.1 billion. The Ricketts family bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009 for $845 million, a record for baseball.
Needless to say–with the Dodgers franchise also in $575 million in debt–it's going to take some time for the new owners to turn any profit from such an over-priced purchase.
As for Frank McCourt and his group, they will officially acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium and it's parking lots for $150 million as part of the deal.
At least fans will know McCourt won't have his hands in team funds any longer. The now former owner drove the team into bankruptcy over the past two years by using team profits for his personal ATM. The team has been frozen for nearly a year, unable to make the proper roster additions to compete because of the deception, and fans took notice.
Attendance at Dodger Stadium plummeted last year, with only three sellouts all season. They also fell short of the three million mark in home attendance for a full season for the first time since 1992. Now 'blue' loyalists will be hopeful for a team that can make a run at the division crown once again.
"If they invested that much money, I'm sure they'll invest to get us a winner," said Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers' former manager and Hall of Famer. "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 basketball player for the Lakers."