A group led by retired NBA icon Magic Johnson completed its purchase of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday with the final payment on the record US$2.15 billion sale.
The deal ends the turbulent eight-year Frank McCourt ownership era for one of the sport’s flagship franchises and comes less than a year after the team declared bankruptcy in June last year with McCourt embroiled in a complicated divorce.
Stan Kasten, a former president of the Atlanta Braves and -Washington Nationals, will be the president of the Dodgers. Mark Walter is the controlling owner of the team, with former Los Angeles Lakers star Johnson among those with a minority stake in a club that last reached the World Series in 1988.
The Dodgers have the best record in the National League at 16-7 after the first month of the six-month regular season.
“The Dodgers emerge from the Chapter 11 reorganization process having achieved its objective of maximizing the value of the Dodgers through a successful plan of reorganization, under which all claims will be paid,” the team said in a statement. “The Dodgers move forward with confidence — in a strong financial position, as a premier Major League Baseball franchise and as an integral part of and representative of the Los Angeles community.”
McCourt had tried to sell off future broadcast rights to the team for money to help pay his divorce settlement and keep control of the team, but Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig rejected the deal, saying it would rob the club of financial assets it would need to sign talent to be competitive.
Eventually, the two sides agreed on a court-ordered compromise that was agreed upon by a US Bankruptcy Court.
Selig called the sale process “a long and difficult road,” but was “pleased that the club can have the fresh start it deserves under new ownership.”
“I have said many times that we owed it to them to ensure that the club was being operated properly and would be guided appropriately in the future,” he said in a statement. “It is my great hope and firm expectation that today’s change in ownership marks the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
“Ultimately, the sale produced a record figure in all of sports, illustrating the strength of our industry,” Selig said.
McCourt is expected to clear nearly US$1 billion in profit, more than enough to handle the US$131 million divorce payment owed Jamie McCourt, which was made on Monday from Dodgers’ sale proceeds, according to the Los Angeles Times.