Magic Johnson, Mark Walter Buy WNBA Sparks, Will Keep Team At Staples Center
Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson and Dodgers Chair Mark Walter have "partnered to buy" the WNBA Sparks, "saving the struggling franchise from relocation or contraction," according Ramona Shelburne of ESPN L.A. The new ownership group also includes Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten and co-Owners Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton. The Sparks "have been in limbo since Christmas" when Majority Owner & CEO Paula Williams Madison "abruptly told the league and Sparks coaches and employees that her company could no longer operate the team." The league "took control of the Sparks and actively sought to find new buyers." The Warriors then said that they "were interested in buying the Sparks and moving them to the Bay Area." Shelburne noted it has been "impossible to schedule next season without knowing the fate of the Sparks." Free agency "has been stalled," and talks on a new CBA "have been slowed." A source said that the purchase of the Sparks is "being made separately from Walter and Johnson's ownership of the Dodgers" (ESPNLA.com, 2/4). In L.A., Melissa Rohlin notes the "only Dodgers owner who is not" in on the purchase is Peter Guber, who also is Warriors co-Owner. The Sparks have been in L.A. "since the league's inception" in '97. They are "one of six privately owned teams in the WNBA; the other six teams are owned by the NBA" (L.A. TIMES, 2/5).