Former Lakers star Magic Johnson made his way back into Southland sports Tuesday in a big, blue way with a record-breaking deal.
Johnson’s group won the bid to take over ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion, blowing past the record selling price for a U.S. sports franchise. The most a team has fetched was the Miami Dolphins for $1.1 billion in 2009.
The purchasing group Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC includes controlling partner Mark R. Walter, Peter Guber, baseball executive Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly.
Former owner Frank McCourt and some "affiliates of the purchasers" will acquire the Chavez Ravine property surrounding the stadium for an additional $150 million.
The deal is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court, and the team's transfer is expected to be complete by the end of April.
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.
The team's statement was more business-oriented, focusing on the tumultuous journey that started in Spring 2011, when Major League Baseball took over operations of the team.
“This transaction underscores the Debtors’ objective to maximize the value of their estate and to emerge from Chapter 11 under a successful Plan of Reorganization, under which all creditors are paid in full,” the Los Angeles Dodgers said in a statement.
The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in late June, just days before the team was expected to miss payroll. The filing came after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve a 17-year agreement between the Dodgers' and Fox's Prime Ticket subsidiary that would have been worth $2 billion or more. MLB feared McCourt would use about half of an intended $385 million cash advance to fund his divorce.
McCourt paid $430 million in 2004 to buy the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that include the parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. The team's debt stood at $579 million as of January, according to a court filing, so even after the divorce payment, taxes and legal and banking fees, he stands to make several hundred million dollars.
Los Angeles finished third in the NL West at 82-79, had just three sellouts and fell short of 3 million in home attendance in a full season for the first time since 1992.
Johnson's group won out over a group led by hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen and Los Angeles billionare and philanthropist Patrick Soon-Shiong; and St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke.
Associated Press contributed to this article