The storied Los Angeles Dodgers franchise is now in the hands of former basketball star Magic Johnson and his group of investors. Johnson and his group paid $2 billion for the bankrupt team on March 27, ending a two-year long drama that began when former owner Frank McCourt found himself in financial difficulty. The buyers group is led by Guggenheim Partners, an investment banking firm and Mark R. Walter, the CEO, is set to be the group’s controlling partner.

The deal still has to be approved, and if it is as expected, the Dodgers will be lifted out of bankruptcy. It’s also been reported that McCourt and several affiliates of the buyers will attempt to purchase Dodger Stadium and its surrounding property for $150 million. This is because McCourt didn’t include the real estate in the sale of the team.

Major League Baseball owners were expecting a bidding war for the franchise since they approved three possible owners that were prepared to bid for the Dodgers on March 28. These were a group including billionaires Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong and a group headed up by Stan Kroenke, owner of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

The 54-year-old Johnson is well known in the Los Angeles area as he played 12 years with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 1991. After he retired Johnson was one of the Lakers’ minority owners and then started a business which owns properties such as health clubs and movie theaters. Johnson was one of the first bidders for the team after it went up for sale last November. Johnson releases a statement which said he’s thrilled to become a part of the Dodger franchise and hopes to put the team back on the front page of the city’s sports sections.

MLB had asked a bankruptcy court to enforce the sale after accusing McCourt of using team funds for his personal use. The saga can be traced back to divorce of McCourt and his former wife Jamie in 2010 who argued over ownership of the franchise in court. The Dodgers found themselves in bankruptcy court last June after a divorce settlement saw Jamie McCourt receive a promise $130 million to end her claim of ownership on the team.

The sale could still be challenged by the other bidders since the auction was called off. However, if it goes through, the $2 billion will represent the highest price ever paid for an American sports franchise. In fact, it almost doubles the previous high of $1.1 billion which Steven Ross paid for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL in 2009. The previous record for a MLB franchise was the $845 million which the Ricketts family dished out in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs.

Before the sale was announced it was believed the Dodgers would sell for anywhere between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion and the future broadcasting rights were estimated at approximately $3 billion. After all is said and done, McCourt could walk away with close to $1 billion after paying the club’s creditors and his ex-wife. The Dodgers total liabilities were listed at $706 million which includes long-term debt of $410 million.

Written by Ian Palmer via FeedCrossing, Content News Source

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