Too legit to quit: Why Josh Macciello insists he’ll be the next Dodgers owner, and why he’s still in the game

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Staff photo by Michael Owen Baker

The next owner of the Dodgers slid some of the caprese salad appetizer next to the spicy fried calamari, careful not to interfere with the integrity of Sisley Italian Kitchen’s famous Italian quesadilla that was already in front him.

It might seem as Josh Macciello has a lot on his plate at the moment in the Sherman Oaks restaurant. But don’t doubt that he’ll have plenty of appetite left for the main course.

“I want everyone to know that I want the whole enchilada,” said Macciello, not afraid to mix his culinary metaphors.

Specifically, that would be the Dodgers’ franchise, the stadium, and the land that surrounds it.

He’s willing to pay $2.2 billion for it. An all-cash deal. And all of it to make Frank McCourt disappear.

“Why would I overbid?” Macciello continued, grabbing a fork. “We need closure to start the healing process. No fan wants to hand over $20 to park and think they’re giving him any more of their money.

“So I want to give him an offer he can’t refuse.”

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Don’t worry. The Brooklyn native and Studio City resident with the pointed black beard and elaborately tattooed right shoulder just getting warmed up.

Media reports change almost daily in an attempt to nail down who has met certain “deadlines” and “qualified” to move “to the next round” in this unique process. Magic Johnson, Peter O’Malley, Stan Kroenke and Michael Heisley apparently are in.

Few, if any one, bother to include the 36-year-old Macciello.

When he made his intentions known with an introductory mini-media blitz last month, some polarizing reaction was predictable. While one started up a fansite, JoshForDodgers.com, to monitor his progress, others stayed skeptical of his net worth, labeling him a publicity seeker.

Add to that the jilted supporters of one of the most storied franchises in sports history who are simply too skittish that he could be McCourt version 2.0 — someone who appears paper-rich but ends up disappointing everyone.

Macciello understands the doubters, but he has no doubt he can win them over.

If needed, he can produce proof that he’s made his millions in TV and movie development projects. Lately, a discovery that some property he owns in Arizona turned out to be gold-rich, yet-to-be-mined land has been verified to be worth billions more.

Yet, Macciello was so agitated by the failure of acknowledgement from representatives from the New York-based Blackstone Group, hired by McCourt to handle the bankruptcy sale, that he took his case to the sports talk radio airwaves last week. On 710-AM’s Steve Mason and John Ireland show, Macciello answered questions from callers and defended himself as a viable option amidst more apprehension.

One caller told him he sounded like some fast-talking used-car salesman. Macciello reminded them that was the first career choice by current baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

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Sources close to Macciello’s group who did not want to be identified because of nondisclosure agreements produced documents that show Macciello put into escrow a $2.2 billion bid on Jan. 18 with the intent to buy the Dodgers and all its holdings through his company, Armital Sports, Inc.

Macciello would own 51 percent. The other 49 percent would be owned by Eagle Crest LLC, headed up by two of Macciello’s financial partners. One of them is South Korean-born business man Myung-Ho Lee, who has, according to more confidential documentation given to the Blackstone Group, $10 billion deposited in the Hong Kong branch of the world’s largest bank, HSBC. Lee is in the process of having it transferred to a U.S. branch, and Macciello says he’s got access to $3 billion of that, with additional money going toward stadium repairs and roster salary.

The three-man group will combine to pay a $75,000 vetting fee that Major League Baseball has requested for this process.

“You think I’d pay that much just for media attention?” Macciello asked. “That’s stupid. I’m not looking to be a Karsashian.”

Representatives for McCourt or the Blackstone Group did not return requests to comment on Macciello’s bid.

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As it all turns out, Macciello’s window of opportunity to get into the bidding has not closed. He has recently been informed that he’ll have until March 1 to secure his offer.

The only real set deadline in this whole process it that McCourt picks the new owner by April 1. After the transaction is completed, he has until the end of April to pay off his debtors.

However, if Macciello isn’t satisfied with how he’s treated, he’s prepared to stall the entire sale proceedings by taking whatever legal action is necessary – an ironic twist to how the litigious McCourt has put the Dodgers ownership into this awkward holding pattern in the first place.

“I don’t want to sue anybody,” Macciello said. “But what other choice might I have?

“Everyone’s putting deadlines on everything, but that’s all make-believe by the media. The reality is, my attorneys feel I have plenty proof of funding here, and all I’m fighting for is a fair chance.

“Once we get past this hurdle, I will win this team. I will stop at nothing.”

Call him the wildcard in this whole drama, and you won’t be far off. He says that on a scale of 1-to-10, his chances of owning the Dodgers: “I live every day on a scale of hitting a 10. Realistically, you might think I’m psychotic, but I think I’m going to own the Los Angeles Dodgers and I’m going to bring a World Series by the end of this year. That’s what’s in my head. And there’s no doubt in my mind.”

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Saturday, Macciello continued to make friends and influence people. He suited up and participated in a charity softball tournament in West Covina sponsored by Dodgers online bloggers, raising money for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Macciello made a $5,000 donation to the cause on top of it.

Here’s what could definitely play into Macciello’s favor – once the MLB approves the final pool of buyers, McCourt has the final say in who he sells it to. If he takes Macciello’s offer, McCourt, who some predicted would be lucky to break even, stands to clear some $700 million, according to Macciello’s calculations.

Likewise, McCourt could also see this as his last opportunity to give Selig and the other MLB owners the equivalent of some neighborhood kids lighting a paper bag on fire and setting it on their porch.

“I’m counting on that as the winning factor,” admitted Macciello. “But if he’s counting on me to do a worse job (than him), I’m counting on doing the best job.

“Everyone now realizes that McCourt is going to make the most amount of money on a bankruptcy in the history of the world. We just want to get back in that race, meet with him, have him give me a number on a napkin, and I’ll pay it.

“You know, the one thing that really scares me – what if you’re all so scared of getting another Frank McCourt that you’re losing the greatest owner you could ever have? That’s a possibility. What if I could win six championships like the O’Malley family, but everyone is so scared of me, because of what McCourt did, that you pass on me?

“I feel that my ownership of the Dodgers will be more than just a guy fulfilling his dreams. It’ll impact this country, which has no guidance right now. People feel lost in this horrible time in America right now, that there’s no hope with big business and government and everyone else screwing them over. And then here comes this guy, who’s not part of all that, who wins this organization, the underdog.”

Macciello, decked out in a flat-billed blue L.A. cap with a Dodgers’ No. 23 home jersey that has his name on the back, picked up another piece of calamari and started talking more about his immediate plans.

He’s keeping Don Mattingly as the Dodgers manager, and Ned Colletti as the general manager. He’ll invest millions into an onside security to make everyone feel safer. If fans aren’t crazy about “Don’t Stop Believin’” played after the seventh-inning stretch, he’ll let them pick the song.

He’s confounded why 50 cents worth of beer can be sold for $9. He can imagine when trolley cars bring fans in and out of the stadium as part of a public transportation service.

And, when all’s said and done, he’ll be just fine moving from the third-base season seats that he’s shared with some friends since 1999 over to the row of seats that McCourt set aside for himself next to the Dodgers’ dugout.

“The way I see it, I’m like Gibson at bat right now,” he said. “I’m in that same hole, facing one of the best closers in the game. And it doesn’t look like I have a chance. So I’m hoping to perform like he did. That’s my inspiration.”

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Staff photo by Michael Owen Baker
The Macciello family (from left): 6-year-old twins Joseph and Anthony, wife Anna, Josh and 11-year-old daughter Nichole, at their Studio City home.

WHO IS JOSH MACCIELLO?

Age: 36
Resident: Studio City
Family: Married to wife Anna for 13 years. “She doesn’t get $1,000 haircuts,” Josh confirmed. The couple has twin 6-year-old boys and an 11-year-old daughter.
Business background: He is the CEO of Reno-based Armital Entertainment LLC and co-chairman of Armital LLC.
His Dodger ownership plan: Macciello’s new company, Armital Sports, Inc., would own 51 percent of the team. The other 49 percent would go to Eagle Crest LLC, comprised of two key investors. One is Myung-Ho Lee, is a South Korean-born former manager of Michael Jackson’s estate and current CEO of Union Finance & Investment, whose clients include Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo. He once sat on the board of Sony/ ATV Music and is on the board of the Korean Stock Exchange. The other, who requested his name not be publicized, is a Fresno-based businessman who owns a major renewable fuel company.

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