It’s official: a group led by sports investor Peter Guber is buying the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), with the team switching to a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliation.
The new player development contract (PDC) and sale of the team was announced today.
Guber, an investor in Guggenheim Baseball Management — the owner of the Dodgers — is also an investor in Mandalay Baseball Properties, which owns the RedHawks. Mandalay Baseball Properties is being liquidated (more on that later), and Guber is teaming up with other current principals of Mandalay Baseball Properties, as well the Los Angeles Dodgers, to buy the RedHawks.
The purchase agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approvals of the Pacific Coast League and Minor League Baseball, and the review of the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Under the new ownership structure, Guber will serve as executive chairman and managing director of the team, and partners Paul Schaeffer and Larry Freedman will manage the operations of the company. Guber, Schaeffer and Freedman have long held similar roles as principals with Mandalay Baseball Properties. Guber and Schaeffer are part of the Dodgers’ current ownership group, and Guber also serves as co-executive chairman of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Also joining in the OKC ownership: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who was also involved with Mandalay Baseball Properties as an investor in the since-sold Dayton Dragons (Low Class A; Midwest League).
“My first experience as an owner in professional sports was in Minor League Baseball and I am looking forward to returning to MiLB with these partners in a dynamic sports market like Oklahoma City,” he said.
“I am thrilled to be partnering with the Dodgers in the Oklahoma City franchise and am looking forward to an exciting future for the enterprise,” Guber said.
“This marks the start of another exciting chapter in Oklahoma City’s rich baseball history,” said RedHawks president/general manager Michael Byrnes. “We are looking forward to building on what we’ve already established over the past four years and add new elements to the fan experience. At the same time, this new partnership will allow us to keep most of the day-to-day operations the same.”
“The Los Angeles Dodgers look forward to making Oklahoma City our long-term home for our Triple-A franchise,” said Dodgers president & CEO Stan Kasten. “We are committed to the great sports fans and the great city of Oklahoma City. We are excited to work with Michael Byrnes and his outstanding staff, who have been a very integral part of the community.”
Ballpark improvements have already been tentatively planned, and there’s also been talk of a name change as well.
The Dodgers will become the fifth Major League parent club to call Oklahoma City its Triple-A home and the third during the franchise’s current incarnation as the RedHawks, following the Texas Rangers (1998-2010) and Houston Astros (2011-2014).
“We want to thank the Houston Astros for four wonderful years,” Byrnes said. “The Astros are a tremendous organization and we had a great run of success both on and off the field during our partnership.”
The Dodgers had been affiliated with the Albuquerque Isotopes over the past six seasons.
This is the fourth sale of Mandalay Baseball Properties assets in the last two months. New York investors purchased a half-interest in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Class AAA; International League), while Chuck Greenberg led a purchase of the Frisco RoughRiders (Class AA; Texas League), and another investment group purchased the Dayton Dragons (Low Class A; Dayton Dragons). The remaining Mandalay franchise, Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League), is still on the market after a Letter of Intent with another investor group fell through.
RELATED STORIES: Guber group buying RedHawks; ties to Dodgers means new affiliation; Frisco RoughRiders sale approved by Texas League, Minor League Baseball; Dayton Dragons sale announced; Greenburg, Sonju close on purchase of Frisco RoughRiders; Mandalay Baseball Properties on the block
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