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Dodgers sale enters final stretch

Los Angeles DodgersMajor League Baseball owners approved three groups bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dodger Stadium, with owner Frank McCourt hoping for a billion-plus sale price.

It’s been a couple of busy months for McCourt’s legal team, as he works to sell the Dodger assets before the end of the month. During the process several groups were eliminated from the bidding process, leaving three survivors:

  • A group led by former Los Angeles Laker star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, backed by Chicago’s Guggenheim Partners.
  • Stan Kroenke, already the owner of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.
  • A group led by hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen — already an investor in the New York Mets — and Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The process is simple. Now that all three groups have been approved by three-quarters of MLB owners, they will move forward to a final auction round overseen by McCourt’s investment bankers, who will seek a deal that recoups their investments, provide $130 million for Jamie McCourt as part of the McCourt divorce settlement and leave something for McCourt to begin his next business life. McCourt has final say over the buyer, though Commissioner Bud Selig may be needed to approve any sale that increases debt on the team.

The sale may or may not include the land surrounding Dodger Stadium — one of the things that attracted the attention of developer McCourt in the first place. McCourt isn’t bound to sell the land, but he may be forced to by his creditors if bids for the team and ballpark don’t reach anticipated levels. Though there’s a lot of talk about $1.5 billion as a target sale price, that number isn’t written in stone, and the need for cash in the deal — eliminating the sort of leveraged purchase undertaken by McCourt in the first place — may end up driving down the sale price. Still, the Dodgers are a flagship franchise, and between ballpark rehabs and a new TV-rights contract on the horizon, there may be plenty of upside to be unlocked by new owners.

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