There’s Magic in Los Angeles. Magic Johnson, that is. The former Los Angeles Lakers star has teamed up with longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten and a group called Guggenheim Baseball Management to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team from former owner and current punch line of many baseball-related jokes Frank McCourt.
The group purchased the team for a whopping $2 billion, which shatters the previous record for money spent on a baseball team—the Chicago Cubs was purchased for $845 million in 2009.
Kasten will most likely be the day-to-day executive, and Mark Walter, the chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, will be the controlling owner of the team. Johnson, however, still says that he will be a very active member of the organization.
“I won’t get in Stan’s way. I won’t get in our manager’s way,” Johnson said, adding, “I will be heavily involved. I’m writing a big check here.”
The five-time NBA Championship winner said that he would help recruit free agents, and while he can’t necessarily talk hitting or pitching with players, he “can talk winning.”
That he can. This purchase is great not only for the Dodgers but also for Major League Baseball and the city of Los Angeles as a whole.
The Dodgers, who finished third in the National League West last year with an 82-79 record, were frequently at the center of sports news stories. And not for the right reasons. Frank and Jamie McCourt, the former Dodgers’ team owners who divorced in October of 2009, entered a dispute over control of the team that led to the dismissal of Jamie McCourt as CEO of the Dodgers and ultimately, the Dodgers’ bankruptcy.
Guggenheim Baseball Management’s purchase of the Dodgers not only takes the team out of financial turmoil but also takes a lot of pressure off of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who took over day-to-day activities of the team last year.
Now the Dodgers have more money to spend on players, and they have a living legend in Johnson to draw in those players. Johnson is not only a proven winner on the basketball court, but he is also a proven winner when it comes to business. Both of those qualities (in addition to that contagious smile of his) are great recruiting tools for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers, who have the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw and the reigning NL Most Valuable Player runner up in Matt Kemp, should have a good season in 2012 under this new ownership. With Frank McCourt out of the front office, the Dodgers can finally focus solely on baseball, something they have not been able to do for years while under the McCourt’s.
Hopefully the addition of Johnson into the front office will bring fans back into the stadium as well. The Dodgers fell just short of three million fans at home games last season—the first time they fell below that number since 1992.
With this new management, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a completely new team and will prove to be a force to be reckoned with in 2012.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin their season by visiting the San Diego Padres on April 5, 2012. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m.
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