- (Photo: Reuters)
Magic Johnson's Dodgers deal is in the works for the highest amount of money ever paid for a franchise – a record $2 billion.
A Magic Jonhson-led group of investors is reportedly buying the Los Angeles Dodgers with the help of baseball executive Stan Kasten. The team is now controlled in the majority by Mark Walter, chief executive officer of financial firm Guggenheim Partners, but Johnson is functioning as the more public face of the deal so far.
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise," the Lakers legend said in a statement. Johnson assured reporters that the new owners "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."
Though the influx of cash for the team could certainly accomplish much – the most ever paid for a sports franchise previously was Malcolm Glazer's purchase of Manchester United soccer club for $1.47 billion – but many critics describe McCourt's ownership of the team as less than "fantastic."
The Los Angeles Dodgers slid into bankruptcy in 2011 under McCourt's watch. Bud Selig had announced beforehand that he had "deep concerns for the finances and operations" of the Dodgers amid reports that McCourt had obtained a personal loan to cover the team's payroll, according to ESPN.
Although McCourt contested the reports, Selig appointed Texas Rangers executive Tom Schieffer to help run day-to-day operations of the team's finances. Nevertheless, the team filed for bankruptcy soon afterwards.
Now, if the $2 billion deal is approved by federal bankruptcy court, the Dodgers could finally see an era of prosperity, as Guggenheim Baseball Partners would be running the MLB team.
"If they invested that much money, I'm sure they'll invest to get us a winner," Tommy Lasorda, retired Hall of Fame manager for the Dodgers, told Sports Illustrated.
The money could be invested to bring new talent to the team, as well as stability to a franchise that won its last World Series in 1988, and last West division title in 2009.
"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," stated Walter.