The Los Angeles Dodgers, one of my favorite baseball teams growing up (when I had a favorite baseball team), need an image makeover.
Since the team was sold to Frank McCourt in 2004, the organization has had more dysfunction than a “Married With Children” episode. Divorce, bankruptcy filings, a bit part in HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you name it, the Dodgers have been through it. But there may be a savior on the horizon.
Magic Johnson, one of LA’s favorite sports figures, is part of a group seeking to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers. Magic, who starred for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s and maintains a strong business presence in Southern California, would be perfect for a franchise struggling for an identity. Besides, Magic has been searching for an ownership share in a professional sports franchise since selling his 5% holding in the Los Angeles Lakers. He would also bring an overriding passion for the sport of baseball, something this team hasn’t seen from an owner in quite some time.
The asking price could be over $1 billion, but Magic has put together an impressive list of backers who would be able to foot the bill. Joining him as suitors include groups including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, recently retired late night talk show host Larry King, and the former owner, Peter O’Malley. However, Magic may be the best candidate to energize a fan base that became turned off to the purely financial goals of previous owners.
There are also behind-the-scenes dealings going on that might make the sale easier to complete than in recent years. Major League Baseball apparently will allow the new owner to use as much as $200 million from the next television deal to go towards financing the purchase of the team. Baseball officials will also not select the new owner as in years past, instead deferring to current owner McCourt to pick the new owner after they pre-approve a group of potential buyers. McCourt will surely pick the highest bidder, but he also might want to go with a local legend who can rally the fan base and give the people of L.A. a winner. With reigning MVP Matt Kemp in the fold with his new 8-year, $160 million contract, talent shouldn’t be a problem. An owner with local roots would be perfect for the situation and Magic Johnson is definitely the man for the job.