The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks are now property of the Dodgers. Sort of.
Under the terms of a just-completed sale, the Sparks belong to five of the six people who own the Dodgers: Magic Johnson, Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Peter Guber, who co-owns both the Dodgers and the Golden State Warriors, isn’t involved in the Sparks purchase.
Colleague Jill Painter reports that Johnson was the only member of the unnamed group who spoke Wednesday at a press conference at Staples Center. Johnson said that he and Walter decided about two weeks ago to place a bid on the franchise while the two were sharing a flight. “We came in at the 11th hour,” Johnson said.
Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and CEO, declined comment on what his role would be beyond financier.
Yesterday we speculated about whether Sparks games would wind up on SportsNet LA if the Dodgers purchased the Sparks. That won’t happen.
The Sparks have a contract with Time Warner through 2016. Time Warner owns TWC SportsNet, which has been carrying Sparks games the past two seasons. The Dodgers (technically, American Media Productions) own SportsNet LA.
Some bullet points for a National Weatherperson’s Day:
The Dodgers are still not worth as much as their purchase price, according to Forbes magazine’s latest MLB franchise valuations released Wednesday.
Forbes places the Dodgers’ value at $1.615 billion, less than the $2 million paid a year ago by Guggenheim Baseball Management but more than the $1.37 billion the franchise was valued at a year ago.
Among all MLB teams the Dodgers are second only to the Yankees, valued at $2.3 billion, and one of only four billion-dollar franchises along with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.
Forbes’ list of values for all 30 teams can be found here.
Of the Dodgers, Forbes writes:
The Guggenheim Partners investment group, whose members include Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and co-owner Todd Boehly, has joined with a larger group of investors to bid on AEG, according to Reuters.
The report states that Los Angeles-based billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong “intends to put together a broad group of local investors in a similar fashion to the one Guggenheim assembled for the $2 billion purchase of the Dodgers in May.”
The Lakers, Kings, Galaxy, Staples Center, Home Depot Center, the proposed Farmers Field football stadium and Citizens Business Bank Arena are all among AEG’s assets. If some or all of the Guggenheim group gets involved, it would leave the Clippers, Ducks, Angels and Chivas USA as the only major professional sports franchises in the region not under Guggenheim control.
The $2 billion price tag Guggenheim paid for the Dodgers was a benchmark for pro sports. For many, it might seem implausible that the same group would spend even more than that on another sports body less than a year later.
But Guggenheim has built a global network of assets in excess of $160 billion, according to Reuters. The money’s there. And Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he’s often been encouraged to “think big” and think about “what’s next” in his short time working with Guggenheim.
Maybe now, Guggenheim is thinking bigger than the Dodgers.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement Wednesday, posted on MLB.com:
“It is extraordinarily exciting for Major League Baseball that Magic Johnson, a beloved figure in Los Angeles and around the world, has entered into an agreement, along with Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, that would make them a part of our national pastime.
“I believe that a man of Magic’s remarkable stature and experience can play an integral role for one of the game’s most historic franchises, in a city where he is revered. Major League Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities, and Magic Johnson is a living embodiment of so many of the ideals that are vital to our game and its future.
“The interest in this franchise and its historic sale price are profound illustrations of the great overall health of our industry. This has been a long, difficult process, and I once again want to thank the great Dodger fans for their loyalty and patience.”
In case you missed it, a group led by Magic Johnson was selected as the next owner of the Dodgers tonight. Here are the preliminary details.
There are some good questions that remain to be answered as of this moment.Why did the deal go down so soon after Major League Baseball owners approved the final three groups of bidders? What were Frank McCourt’s sticking points? What will the team’s next television package look like, and does the incoming ownership group already know?
If these questions haven’t been answered by the time McCourt and the Guggenheim Group sit down for a press conference later this week in Los Angeles (the exact date and location are TBA), they will be asked with Magic Johnson and his cohorts on the dais.
Here are some things we do know: