For the past year, Chavez Ravine has been more suited to a wild-west shootout than a major league ballpark.
The stadium is nearly empty as fans have been chased inside their homes, where they watch safely from their televisions.
Three men wiggle their fingers in anticipation of drawing for their pens and pocketbooks. Each wanting their share of the buried treasure.
The Good: Mark Walter
The fate of the Dodgers franchise appears to be in good hands. Walter, CEO of the global private investment banking firm Guggenheim Partners, is the financial leader and co-owner of the newly purchased Los Angeles Dodgers, for a record $2.15 billion.
Walter has teamed up with LA legend and self-proclaimed Dodger fan Magic Johnson, who will be the face of the franchise, as well as sports guru Stan Kasten, who has years of experience in sports management.
Kasten served as general manager and president of a successful NBA Atlanta Hawks franchise, president of the Atlanta Braves from 1986-2003 winning a world series in 1995, and briefly served as the president of the Washington Nationals from 2006-2010. The man knows sports.
Because this group is willing to splurge more on the Dodgers than any other team in sports history, it’s a safe bet that they aren’t solely, if at all, in it for profit.
“We know that $2 billion is a lot, but sometimes you go after a marquee franchise; these don’t come on the market too often,” said Johnson on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
The Bad: Frank McCourt
McCourt was able to buy the Dodgers for $430 million in 2004 without spending a dime out of pocket by using equity in a Boston parking lot.
In 2007 the Dodgers took out two loans against future ticket sales for $140 million and by 2011, McCourt spiraled the team into bankruptcy, when he and his ex-wife Jamie entered a pricey divorce involving a botched prenuptial agreement.
In desperation McCourt drew up a contract with FOX that would secure its Dodgers television deal until 2030. The deal was estimated at $1.7 billion over 17 years, $385 million of which would be paid up front. The problem, $173.5 million of this was headed right for the McCourt’s bank account.
The Ugly: Bud Selig
Current Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Selig’s interests lie in the preservation of one of the league’s most important franchises. Selig used all of his power to push McCourt out of the picture, first rejecting the proposed FOX deal, then seizing control of the team and appointing a trustee to oversee day-to-day operations of the Dodgers. McCourt had no option but to sell the club or face bankruptcy.
So who are the winners in this deal? Everyone.
Dodger fans have much to look forward to. Stadium renovations, possibilities of land development around the ballpark, an ownership that seems to care about winning, and a team that already can win.
Selig’s prize, his manhood. He pushed out one of the league’s worst owners in a year and may have single-handedly rescued the Dodgers franchise. How’s that for job security?
The Mark Walter partnership is in prime position to take over their trophy team at the end of April. Unexpected by many sports analysts, the new ownership may have already inherited a championship caliber team.
The Dodgers are currently sitting in first place in the NL West and own one of the best records in baseball. Matt Kemp is playing out of his mind, leading all major-leaguers in home runs, and has won the player of the week award for three consecutive weeks, a new MLB milestone.
As for McCourt, he is making off like the filthy bandit we knew he was. The Mark Walter partnership has shot through his noose, and allowed the villain to escape with an $860 million dollar payday and joint control of the surrounding parking lots.
The only loser in this deal is Jamie McCourt, who prematurely gave up her share of the Dodgers for $131 million.
I almost feel bad for her, but in this world there are two kinds of people: those with loaded guns and those who dig.