The sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers is nearing its end.
According to a report from Richard Sandomir of the Los Angeles Times, a final group of three bidders for the Dodgers was approved by Major League Baseball on Tuesday. The three finalists will move on to a private auction overseen by an investment bank hired by current owner Frank McCourt.
Per the Associated Press, McCourt has to choose the winning bidder by Sunday. The Times report claims he could choose a winner by the end of the week.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson and his camp are among the finalists to buy the team. The other two groups are headed by Stan Kroenke—who owns the St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche—and hedge-fund mogul Steven Cohen.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 27 at 11:45 p.m. ET
As reported by Dennis K. Berman of the Wall Street Journal, Johnson's group has won the bidding for the Dodgers with a record bid:
Breaking from WSJ: Magic Johnson-led group buys LA Dodgers for $2 billion, shattering all previous prices paid for sports franchises.— Dennis K. Berman (@dkberman) March 28, 2012
McCourt bought the Dodgers for $430 million in 2004.
Johnson is without a doubt the sympathetic favorite to win control of the Dodgers, but one expert told the AP that Cohen should be considered the odds-on favorite because of his deep pockets.
"The obvious front-runner should be Steve Cohen. He's using his own money rather than someone else's money," said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp, per the AP.
Cohen's pockets will have to be very deep to win the Dodgers in the private auction, as the club is expected to sell for about $1.5 billion, and maybe even more.
A key hangup has emerged in the sale of the club, and that's McCourt's insistence that he maintain control of Dodger Stadium's parking lots and land. If he maintains control of the lots and land, the Times says he'll be able to collect $14 million in rent every year from the team's new owner.
However, Sandomir speculates that McCourt may be using the lots as a chip to push the overall sale price even higher in the auction.
The Dodgers won 82 games in 2011 and saw their attendance decline from an average of 43,979 fans per game in 2010 to 36,236 fans per game, according to ESPN.com.