Like Magic, Dodgers’ buzz back in L.A. Like Magic, Dodgers’ buzz back in L.A.
All it took was one Los Angeles sports institution — oh, and more than $2 billion — to ride to the rescue of another.... Like Magic, Dodgers’ buzz back in L.A.

All it took was one Los Angeles sports institution — oh, and more than $2 billion — to ride to the rescue of another.

A group that includes former L.A. Lakers star Magic Johnson has been selected to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.15 billion, a record price for a pro sports franchise. The storied Major League Baseball team has been run into bankruptcy by Frank McCourt, who bought the team for $430 million in 2004.

The struggle for control of the team was part of a messy, public divorce between McCourt and his wife, Jamie. The MLB ordered McCourt was ordered to sell the team, and he agreed to do so through a court-supervised auction, where he selected the winning bidder. Johnson’s group includes movie producer Peter Guber, longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, and the controlling owner Mark Walter, chief executive officer of financial services company Guggenheim Partners.

If the sale is confirmed in a court hearing April 13, it would bring a tumultuous era at Dodger Stadium to an end. Under McCourt’s ownership, the team struggled financially and lately, on the field. Dodgers fans and baseball observers seem to agree that with the Lakers legend, who has built a successful business career in his post-playing days, and his group at the helm, the luster of one of baseball’s flagship franchises can be restored.

Within hours of the impending sale to Johnson’s group being announced, the Dodgers sold out their home opener, April 10 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and season ticket sales jumped.

“We made a major buy of tickets knowing there was going to be a change of ownership, no matter who it was,” Barry Rudin, owner of L.A.-based Barry’s Tickets, told TicketNews. “This is the best possible scenario you could hope for.”

David Siegel, the Dodgers’ senior director of ticket sales, told The Los Angeles Times that the sales volume has been similar to what the team experienced after it acquired Manny Ramirez in 2008.

“Several season-seat holders, who flat-out canceled their seats just a month or two ago, have actually called us to see if their season seats are still available,” Siegel told the Times.

Rudin said what Magic Johnson brings to the franchise can’t be underestimated.

“Magic is the most beloved figure in L.A. sports and he doesn’t know what second place is,” Rudin said. “With a brilliant baseball mind like Kasten, I think they’re going to be run intelligently. They are all about winning championships and Magic has always been about that. It’s going to bring the fans back. I think we’re talking Yankees West out here.”

Last season, attendance at 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium fell to 36,236 a game, the team’s lowest for a non-strike season since 1992, which was a year of a 99-loss team that was the worst in L.A. Dodgers history. The 2011 Dodgers went 82-79 and failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. Security concerns arose after a San Francisco Giants fan was beaten in the stadium parking lot.

The average ticket price last season at Dodger Stadium was $30.59, the 10th-highest in MLB. So far, news of the sale hasn’t boosted Dodgers ticket prices on the secondary market. According to search site TiqIQ.com, the average resale ticket price for a Dodgers home game this season is $49. Only the Kansas City Royals ($48), Milwaukee Brewers ($47), and Pittsburgh Pirates ($48) have a lower average price in MLB.

The stunning sale price of the team — three times what the Chicago Cubs went for in 2009 — was fueled by an expected windfall of more billions for the team’s television rights deal or the launch of a regional sports network with the Dodgers as the centerpiece, similar to the New York Yankees’ YES Network.

Johnson, the NBA Hall of Famer who led the Lakers to five championships, told the L.A. Times that he and his partners will keep up with baseball’s other big spenders to try to bring the Dodgers their first World Series title since 1988. The Dodgers’ Southern California neighbor, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, stunned baseball this past off-season with their free agent deals to Albert Pujols (10 years, $240 million) and C.J. Wilson (five years, $77 million).

“Other teams are doing it,” Johnson told the Times. “It’s not just the Yankees. The Angels invested a lot of money into Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Teams are investing. That’s what you do when you put a winning team on the field. We’re not going to be any different from those teams.”