SBD/March 19, 2012/Franchises

Lakers Investor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong Joins Cohen-Led Dodgers Bid Group

Sources said Soon-Shiong has met with McCourt several times since November
Adding Lakers investor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong to a bid group for the Dodgers is the "strongest indication yet" of SAC Capital Advisors Founder Steven Cohen's "intention to present outgoing owner Frank McCourt with a final bid that reflects prominent local support rather than just overwhelming East Coast money," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Soon-Shiong is the "richest man in Los Angeles," and sources said that he has held "several meetings with McCourt since the Dodgers were put up for sale in November." Soon-Shiong had been "widely expected to join the bid group" led by Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson, from whom he "bought a minority share in the Lakers two years ago." Sources said that under the proposed arrangement with Cohen, Soon-Shiong would own an "undetermined minority share of the Dodgers." Cohen had originally submitted a bid "under which he would own 100% of the team." One source said that Cohen is "prepared to commit close to $2 billion to buy the Dodgers and renovate their stadium without financing any of that amount." AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke also said that he has "met with Cohen to discuss the Dodgers" and is "familiar with Soon-Shiong because of his investment in the Lakers." Leiweke said that AEG has "rejected overtures to join a Dodgers bidding group but would be willing to cooperate on stadium rehabilitation." All 30 MLB owners will vote on all remaining bidders later this week. McCourt then can "conduct final negotiations with approved bidders, with the goal of selecting a winner by April 1" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19). Baseball writer Ross Newhan noted Soon-Shiong "enhances the Cohen group's ties to Los Angeles, with long-time Los Angeles based attorney and player agent Arn Tellem expected to be the club president if the group prevails" (NEWHANONBASEBALL.blogspot.com, 3/18).

BIRD'S THE WORD
: FOX SPORTS' Ken Rosenthal wrote there is "just one problem" with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa becoming a "key decision-maker for the Los Angeles Dodgers if Steve Cohen succeeds in buying the club." Baseball execs said that La Russa is "such a strong personality, his presence might diminish the Dodgers’ chances of hiring one of the top current general managers." Though the "exact role they discussed is unclear, it’s doubtful La Russa would serve as a mere figurehead." The next owner of the club "could retain GM Ned Colletti and give him the chance to operate with a payroll greater than $90 million, the Dodgers’ figure this season." But if the owner "wants his own man, an incoming GM might balk at working for La Russa, who has zero front-office experience" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/17).
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