Terms Of Dodgers Sale To Be Heard In Court Friday, On Track To Close April 30
The terms of the Dodgers' sale to Guggenheim Baseball Management “are scheduled to be filed in court Friday, the first of several steps required before April 30, when the deal is set to close,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The court is “expected to approve the sale April 13.” However, the sale terms will be reviewed closely by attorneys for MLB, Fox Sports and former Owner Frank McCourt's ex-wife Jamie, “all of whom have reserved the right to object.” Sources said that MLB “could mount the most significant challenge, though the league does not intend to derail the sale and in any case appears to lack the legal authority to do so.” Sources also said that several owners “have expressed concern that a significant amount of the purchase price is expected to be funded by Guggenheim-controlled insurance companies.” A source said that the new ownership group, fronted by Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson and former MLB exec Stan Kasten, is “expected to add local investors after the deal closes, which would reduce the reliance on insurance funding." However, the league "cannot mandate any such change as a condition of the sale.” Retired federal judge Joseph Farnan, who will mediate, “would probably reject any MLB challenge on the basis that the basic financial terms of the deal have not changed from the one the league already had approved.” A source said it could mean “there are no new investors, and there is no added debt because the bid remains all cash except for assumption of the Dodgers' current debts.” Fox Sports had "reserved the right to challenge any involvement by rival Time Warner Cable in a new Dodgers ownership group." Sources said that Guggenheim “has no deal with Time Warner Cable … leaving the new owners free to launch a team-owned cable channel or auction the Dodgers' television rights among Fox, TWC or CBS” (L.A. TIMES, 4/6).
MAGIC ACT: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes although Johnson owns only a tiny percentage of the Dodgers and there are “not yet any guarantees about the scope of his daily influence or power,” it is clear that he “is their new face.” Plaschke: “He is their new voice. He is even their new conscience, as the Dodgers kept sneaking peeks at him before taking the field each inning Thursday, and then glanced up at him as if seeking approval after each big play.” When Dodgers CF Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run in the team's 5-3 win over the Padres Thursday, Johnson “walked over to the dugout, stuck his head in and congratulated Kemp.” Kemp said, “That was kind of cool.... He was like 'Nice job, kid,' and I was like 'Hey, that's Magic Johnson right there.'" Johnson: “When my group bought this team, I said I was going to be there with them, and for them. Today I wanted to show the players exactly what I meant” (L.A. TIMES, 4/6). Meanwhile, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Alex Block wrote compared to the Lakers, the Dodgers “haven’t cultivated much of a relationship with Hollywood.” But that “could change” with Johnson and former Warriors co-Owner and Mandalay Entertainment Group Chair & CEO Peter Guber among the new ownership group. Guber’s ownership stake in the Dodgers “is said to be small, but his creative instincts could help make crucial marketing and other operational decisions.” Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob said Guber is “creative” and “elastic” in his thinking. He added that Guber will “use his knowledge of technology to connect new generations of fans” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 4/5).
DON'T EMBRACE THE PAST? In L.A., T.J. Simers writes if the Dodgers “are poised to get off to a fresh start" under the new ownership group, why was Johnson "sitting beside Frank McCourt for the team's opener at Petco Park?" Simers: "Why would the best thing that has happened to the Dodgers in recent years allow himself to be photographed sitting next to the worst thing that has happened to the Dodgers?” Following the game, Johnson was asked about sitting with McCourt, to which he said, “I'm just here enjoying the game." Simers: “No one questions Magic's credentials as a great basketball player and sports icon, but he's still going to have to prove himself as a baseball executive. So far his judgment has been suspect” (L.A. TIMES, 4/6). In L.A., Jill Painter writes McCourt “gestured and mostly chatted while Johnson tried to pay attention to the game,” and fans "couldn't help but notice.” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, "That was definitely different. It was the changing of the guards, in a sense” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/6).
HOLLYWOOD DIVORCE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Tim Brown wrote the small-market Padres, “endured a divorce at the top, kept it dignified, and were wracked by the community property laws.” The large-market Dodgers “endured a divorce at the top, spilled blood on the streets of L.A., and were undone by community property laws.” Yet McCourt, at Thursday night’s win over the Padres “sat a few feet from third base alongside one of the sports legends of our time, a matter of weeks from filling his pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars.” Meanwhile, Padres Chair John Moores “sat in the shadows, his former owner-in-waiting and CEO apparently not even in the ballpark.” A source said that it “appeared Moores was now hoping for a fast-track sale of the club, that it wouldn’t be to [Vice Chair Jeff] Moorad, and that it could happen shortly after negotiating the new television deal” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/5). CBSSPORTS.com’s Scott Miller wrote Moores, “disgraced, replaced and back post-haste ... skulked around in the shadows upstairs” at Petco Park. Miller: “Only Moores’ appearance as owner was weirder than Magic risking toxic exposure by sitting so close to McCourt” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/5).