Magic Johnson in 2010.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been sold to one of the most beloved athletes in the city's history.
Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com reported the good news on Twitter:
The Dodgers have reached an agreement to be sold to Magic Johnson's bidding group, according to a baseball source. See dodgers.com.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) March 28, 2012
Johnson's group was among the three finalists approved by Major League Baseball on Wednesday to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, per a report from the Los Angeles Times.
At the time of that report, the eventual sale price was estimated to be about $1.5 billion. Dennis K. Berkman of the Wall Street Journal has it on good authority that that estimation was a little conservative:
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
Yes, you are reading that correctly. Two. Billion. Dollars.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Johnson's camp also includes former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten and Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners. They outbid groups led by NFL, NBA and NHL owner Stan Kroenke and hedge fund mogul Steven Cohen, who is also a limited partner of the New York Mets.
Johnson issued a statement about the purchase, courtesy of DodgerThoughts.com:
I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles.
When McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004, he only paid $430 million. The team went bankrupt under his watch last season, and its debt was listed at $579 million as recently as this January, per the AP.
In selling the Dodgers for $2 billion, McCourt stands to profit by hundreds of millions of dollars, though the AP has reported that the sale is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.
He issued his own statement, also courtesy of DodgerThoughts.com:
This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community. We are delighted that this group will continue the important work we have started in the community, fulfilling our commitment to building 50 Dream Fields and helping with the effort to cure cancer.
The Dodgers are coming off a season in which they won 82 games, though they fell short of drawing three million total fans to Dodger Stadium for the first time in two decades.
According to ESPN.com, the team's payroll will be just short of $104 million in 2012.
Johnson won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s, garnering three MVP awards and making 12 All-Star teams. He retired in the early 1990s after testing positive for HIV, and then went on to become a highly successful businessman.
Johnson indicated in July of 2011 that he would take a look at buying the Dodgers if they came up for sale. Per the Los Angeles Times, he said he thought the brand was "amazing."