After two years in court, a team bankruptcy and a messy divorce, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the franchise at auction, and the sale is expected to close by April 30. Initial bids are due by January 13, with the auction process to be completed no later than April 1.
The field of prospective bidders for the franchise — one of the most storied in Major League Baseball — have been cleared to start submitting offers. And the list of interested parties appears to be growing.
One of the most prominent potential bidders is a group of investors that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. Joining the popular Johnson are Stan Kasten, former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and Mark Walter, president of Chicago-based financial services firm Guggenheim Partners.
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, had previously stated that he wasn’t interested due to the price. However, since the recent MLB auction settlement allows McCourt to keep ownership of the parking lots around Dodgers stadium, which may reduce the price for the team, Cuban has indicated that he may submit a bid.
Either way, he has stated that he will accept one of the confidential “bid books” that contain all of the financial information necessary to make a serious offer.
Forbes values the Dodgers’ franchise at $800 million, but a competitive bidding process could drive the price north of $1 billion.
Another potential group of investors includes TV personality Larry King. A frequent presence in Dodger Stadium’s Dugout Club, King will be joining a pair of executives from Imperial Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment bank, as well as Dennis Gilbert, a former minor league player and insurance executive. Gilbert lost out on a bid to purchase the Texas Rangers last year.
Former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley, who sold the team to News Corp. in 1998, also plans to lead an investment group in a bid. O’Malley has been a vocal critic of McCourt, and he hopes to return as the Dodgers’ CEO.
“I want to reconnect the team and the community,” O’Malley recently told the Los Angeles Times. “I am confident I can restore it to respectability quicker, sooner and probably better than — or at least as well as — anyone else.”
Former Dodgers stars Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser are also assembling a group of investors to possibly submit a bid. Garvey reportedly has been working on this for over two years, and previously tried to buy the team directly from McCourt. Supermarket magnate Ron Burkle is rumored to be a financial backer of this group.
Additionally, former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, who was GM the last time the team won the World Series in 1988, is teaming up with former Oakland Athletics executive Andy Dolich in an attempt to raise enough capital to make an offer.
And also reportedly considering making a bid is billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump.