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Dodgers sale to Walter, Kasten, Magic complete

Dodgers sale to Walter, Kasten, Magic complete

Dodgers sale to Walter, Kasten, Magic complete
The sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers became official on Tuesday as Guggenheim Baseball Management closed its $2 billion purchase of the club and Dodger Stadium from Frank McCourt.

The principals will hold a 10 a.m PT news conference at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday that will be streamed live at MLB.com.

Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners, will be the controlling partner; longtime sports executive Stan Kasten will be president and CEO; and former Lakers great turned businessman Magic Johnson is a part-owner who will have a public role. The investor group includes Mandalay Entertainment chairman Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Texas energy investor Bobby Patton.

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Guggenheim paid an additional $150 million for a 50-percent interest in the property surrounding Chavez Ravine and the stadium parking lots, in a joint venture with McCourt.

"After a long and difficult road, the sale of the Dodgers is now complete, and I am pleased that the club can have the fresh start it deserves under new ownership," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "I congratulate Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and all of their partners, and I look forward to working with them.

"In addition, I want to personally thank all Dodger fans for their patience and loyalty during this trying period. I have said many times that we owed it to them to ensure that the club was being operated properly and would be guided appropriately in the future. It is my great hope and firm expectation that today's change in ownership marks the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Dodgers and that this historic franchise will once again make the city of Los Angeles proud."

Kasten, a graduate of New York University and Columbia Law School, ran the Atlanta Braves during their remarkable playoff run, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL. He later ran the Washington Nationals. Kasten has been in almost daily contact with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti in recent weeks and introduced himself to players in the clubhouse before Sunday's game.

Johnson runs Magic Johnson Enterprises, a multimillion-dollar company that includes Magic Johnson Productions, a promotional company; Magic Johnson Theaters, a nationwide chain of movie theaters; and Magic Johnson Entertainment, a movie studio.

The purchase, announced March 27, is the key element in the Dodgers emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. McCourt filed for bankruptcy last June when he couldn't meet player payroll or pay bills after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig declined to approve a $3 billion agreement between FOX and the Dodgers to extend their television broadcast rights.

Based on a settlement with MLB and overseen by the bankruptcy court, McCourt had until Monday to close the sale. McCourt also was required to pay his former wife, Jamie McCourt, a $131 million divorce settlement on Monday.

"The Dodgers emerge from the Chapter 11 reorganization process having achieved its objective of maximizing the value of the Dodgers through a successful plan of reorganization, under which all claims will be paid," the Dodgers said in a news release confirming the closing. "The Dodgers move forward with confidence -- in a strong financial position; as a premier Major League Baseball franchise; and as an integral part of and representative of the Los Angeles community."

The Guggenheim group was one of three final bidders in an auction run by Blackstone Advisory Partners on behalf of McCourt -- the winning group of Guggenheim, Johnson and Kasten; one that included billionaires Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong and agent Arn Tellem; and Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams.

The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004 from Newscorp for a net purchase price of $371 million. With the $2 billion for the team and stadium, plus $300 million for the surrounding land and parking lots, including the $150 million worth of land contributed by McCourt, the selling price is a total of $2.3 billion, just shy of $2 billion in appreciation in eight years.

Under McCourt's ownership, the Dodgers reached the postseason four times in eight seasons; he invested, according to the club, $150 million in improvements of 50-year-old Dodger Stadium; and he moved Spring Training from venerable Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., to Camelback Ranch-Glendale in Arizona. He also established the Dodgers Dream Foundation that refurbished dozens of youth baseball fields and established ThinkCure in partnership with City of Hope and Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles to raise money for a cancer cure.

However, McCourt's tenure also saw missteps, including alienating the fan base by what MLB estimated in court documents to be a $190 million "looting" of Dodgers equity to fund an extravagant lifestyle. He and Jamie McCourt also became entangled in one of the most costly and publicized divorces in California history.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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