BOB: A late Dodgers sale summaryby Brian Borawski
April 18, 2012
This is my annual “getting back into” column. I'm a Certified Public Accountant, so around this time I take a few weeks off to get through some work. Unfortunately, that means I can fall behind and it seems like this time, some big things happened while I was out. This first piece back will simply get everyone up to speed on the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I've seen numbers that go as high as $2.3 billion for the team, but the number I'm seeing thrown around the most is “more than $2 billion,” with what looks to be a more solid $2.15 billion being the final price of the team.
The new ownership group has an interesting blend of talented people. First off, you have the money guys in Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm that has over $125 billion in assets under its management. The $2 billion number is a small percentage for this company. Then you have Stan Kasten, the baseball guy. Kasten was the custodian president for the Washington Nationals during the time when the team was owned by Major League Baseball and he's also a friend of commissioner Bud Selig. Finally, you have Magic Johnson, the face of the team; my guess is he'll do everything from marketing to actually going out and recruiting players. It's one thing for a team to throw money at a player but it's a little extra special if you have Magic Johnson coming to your door and saying, “We want you to play for us.”
The deal included Dodger Stadium as well as a joint ownership in some of surrounding parking lots. Of course the big reason the team sold for so much is that it will be negotiating a new television rights deal after the 2013 season. Fox Sports, the current provider, will have to come up with some serious cash because the Dodgers also have the ability to form their own sports network if the deal isn't sweet enough. There's also speculation that companies like Time Warner are investing in the area so they can get into the mix when the time comes.
Late last week, the bankruptcy court approved the sale, despite MLB trying to block the sale so it could further examine the deal. Apparently, MLB took issue with a proposed joint venture between previous owner Frank McCourt and the new owners regarding the stadium's parking lot, but at this point, everything looks set to go down as planned on April 30.
Fox also made some noise. As part of its settlement with the Dodgers, Fox could have challenged a sale if rival Time Warner Cable was either directly or indirectly involved. This was resolved easily enough by the new owners stating under oath that there was no involvement. There was also the matter of whether the team or McCourt would pay the $8 million that is owed to the league for loans. We'll see how that plays out.
Dodgers fans have to be happy. They have an ownership group with very deep pockets and a legend in Magic Johnson to rally behind. And while it's probably a coincidence, the Dodgers are off to a nice start this year with Matt Kemp looking to have a repeat performance of his near-MVP caliber season last year. There's also speculation that the area around the stadium will be developed so there could be even more to do when fans come down for the games.
Brian Borawski is a member of SABR's Business of Baseball Committee and writes about the Detroit Tigers at his own website, TigerBlog. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail.