Step off that ledge Dodger fans, it’s official: Frank McCourt is no longer the owner of your team. And if this news still can’t be heard over the call of the void, then perhaps telling you that the team was purchased by Magic Johnson will grab your attention. Yes, on Tuesday night McCourt sold the squalid franchise for a global sports record $2 billion to Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, the entity that the greatest sports icon in Los Angeles’ history will represent.
“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and 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,” Johnson said in a statement.
Although it’s questionable what exact foundation was laid by McCourt, the veracity of Johnson’s public statement lay in the giddiness of his voice, if nothing else. And who could question the giddiness displayed through that purchase price that GBM chucked out this week. Though the Guggenheim organization is worth over $100 billion, Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC is actually a separate company with separate investors who just happen to be top brass at Guggenheim. GBM itself is comprised of a menagerie of investors from oil companies to the entertainment industry.
Regardless, the generous price tag that came with this big-market franchise (which hopefully won’t affect the promise to lower ticket prices too much) will surely come back in the future. It certainly did for McCourt. After running a real estate business in Boston that primarily focused on parking lots, he came to Los Angeles in 2004 and purchased the team along with the 250 acres surrounding the stadium for $430 million. And after years of going through stagnant revenue and a nasty and expensive divorce case with his former wife, McCourt accrued $1.1 billion in debts.
So after nearly a decade of raising ticket prices, shying away from big name free-agent players, unethically coercing the Dodger Dog (arguably the worst hot dog in baseball) towards the hungry mouths of his loyal fans, and in 2011 allowing the franchise the worst attendance record it’s witnessed since 1992, McCourt will walk away from his cataclysmic reign over the Chavez Ravine $900 million dollars richer.
But McCourt won’t leave entirely. Part of the deal he made with GBM was that he would own half of the land surrounding the stadium for $150 million. The parking lot connoisseur simply couldn’t abandon his lifelong passion for managing immobile concrete, and will most likely play a role in the parking finances with the stadium.
As for Magic Johnson and crew, their sights are sky high and cloudless, and the hope that the City of Los Angeles can also envision what they’re envisioning: a franchise trying to exercise the demons of their past while climbing back into the World Series with a Brett Tomko-free rotation.
Paul Adams is a writer who lives in Los Angeles, follow him on Twitter @Yustomovic.
[Photo By Rafael Amado Deras]