LOS ANGELES – The dawn of a new era starts in the city of Los Angeles, Major League Baseball (MLB), and amongst Dodger fans across the nation. The most hated man in Los Angeles, Frank McCourt who purchased the Dodger back in 2004 for $430 million from FOX’s NewsCorp has chosen a new owner. Over the years the McCourts have ruined the historic franchise that began with the O’Malley family from the days in Brooklyn. Through the divorce drama of Frank & Jamie McCourt, the savage beating of San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow, and fans boycotting by not appearing at games. Many of us never thought this day would come soon enough. The Dodgers hadn’t had the lowest attendance in the league since 1992.
On Tuesday those dark days would become bright again, as it was reported that Frank McCourt sold the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Guggenheim Baseball Management group. The group includes Mark Walter, former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, Mandalay Bay CEO Peter Guber, and former Los Angeles Lakers star and businessman Magic Johnson. The group purchased the team for a reported $2 billion dollars, the highest amount in North America for a sports franchise.
Greatness has truly been restored to the Dodger image, as well as to the millions and millions of fans waiting for this day.
Having Magic Johnson being apart of this ownership group was absolutely genius. Not only being a successful businessman, a five time NBA world champion, Magic has always had the insight to make things better. Along with being a long time Dodgers fan, he is the first black owner in MLB history. More than 60 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier back in 1947, the Dodgers have always been groundbreaking. From acquiring a jewish pitcher in Sandy Koufax, to tapping into the Latin American market bring us Fernando Valenzuela “Fernando-Mania”, Ramon Martinez, to going into the Far East of the world that brought us the pitching sensation Hideo Nomo.
The Dodgers have always knocked down barriers both racially and economically. It will take the Dodgers some time to get everything situated and planned out, but the future looks very bright and promising for this franchise.
Stan Kasten has stated that the people who are in upper manager such as GM Ned Colletti will remain in place, and trust that they are doing the best job that can be done in their respective positions.
With the agreement of the bankruptcy judge, the selling of this team, McCourt will be able to pay off debts. Which consist of his ex-wife’s divorce settlement of $131 million, paying off debts accumulated during the his ownership tenure will bring the Dodgers back into the positive financially.
Although McCourt does retain 50% of the parking lots and land at Dodger Stadium, the new ownership would acquire the land surrounding the stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million. There will come a day where McCourt will be a distant memory in Los Angeles, and have no ties to the team, parking lots, land or anything else. McCourt will walk away from this deal with over $600 millions dollars.
For Commissioner Bud Selig, the purchase of the Dodgers by the Guggenheim Baseball Management Group that includes Magic Johnson, just elevated his legacy into the stratosphere. When Selig retires from being commissioner on his resume, he can clearly state he was the one who brought back the Dodgers back from a relic and made them relevant again.
Also history was made on his watch by Magic Johnson being the first black owner in Major League Baseball.
With McCourt now out of the way, Selig has realized all is right again in baseball land again. The group should be officially in place by April 30th. Magic has said he’ll have an office at Dodger Stadium, but will remain out of the way of what he calls “the baseball guys” such Stan Kasten and others.
The moment of free agency, look for Magic Johnson to be recruiting players as only Magic can, with passion, enthusiasm, and that award winning smile.
With the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers playing at Dodger Stadium this year, this news couldn’t have come at a better time.
Mr. Walter O’Malley can rest easy, as the historic franchise he worked so hard to build and maintain through out the years is back is great hands. Hands that will continue the team into greatness for many years to come.
Is Major League Baseball ready for Black ownership, I would say, they are on the right track. Tuesday’s groundbreaking announcement could potentially open doors for other teams to allow other black businesspeople to be apart of MLB at the ownership level.