Magic Johnson (left) and business partner Stan Kasten will try to bring smiles back to the faces of Dodgers fans.
Everyone knows Magic Johnson and that bright smile -- something Dodgers fans could use after a season of uncertainty in the front office, mediocrity on the field and empty seats at the stadium.
The Changeup: The Frank McCourt Era
But turning around one of baseball's most storied and prized franchises -- Johnson's group agreed to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion -- will take something magical and more.
That's where Stan Kasten and Mark Walter come in. They don't have five NBA titles, the admiration of NBA fans or a rivalry with Larry Bird (that we know of), but they do bring baseball business experience and -- judging by their offer -- a willingness to spend money.
"If they invested that much money, I'm sure they'll invest to get us a winner,'' said Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers' retired Hall of Fame manager. "I wish them all the luck, and I admire them. I know both of them. I know Magic from the day he came into Los Angeles as a basketball player for the Lakers.''
The $2 billion offer from Guggenheim Baseball Management is well beyond the $1.1 billion paid for the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2009 and $1.47 billion handed over for England soccer club Manchester United in 2005.
The current record for a baseball franchise is the $845 million paid by the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.
And, the Guggenheim group's offer makes the $430 million that McCourt paid in 2004 seem relatively middling. McCourt took over the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that include the parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., a sale that left the team with about $50 million in cash at the time.
Here's look at the non-Magical players in the deal:
About Stan Kasten
Kasten is a longtime baseball executive who knows the business. The former president of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves is expected to wind up as the team's top day-to-day executive.
His name might be new to LA, but the city of Atlanta knows him well. Kasten has known Johnson for over 30 years, and once offered him a job as coach of the Atlanta Hawks.
Kasten oversaw the development of Turner Field, the Braves' home. He also oversaw the construction of Philips Arena, home to the NBA's Hawks. He was the team's president in 1986 and also ran the former Atlanta Thrashers, who have since moved to Winnipeg.
Johnson told ESPN in December that Kasten's ideal role in the organization would be to over see the baseball operations.
About Mark Walter
Walter is chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm that deals with investments and securities among other services. The company manages about $125 billion in assets, suggesting he'll be the one signing the checks.
"I am truly honored to have partnered with such talented individuals and to be associated with the Dodgers organization,'' said Walter. "We look forward to building upon the legacy of the Dodgers and providing long-term stability to one of the most revered franchises in baseball.''
The acquiring group has several other investors -- Mandalay Entertainment chief executive Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton, who operates oil and gas properties among his investments.
About Frank McCourt
Oh yes, the outgoing Dodgers owner has a part in this, too -- albeit literally on the periphery. McCourt and "certain affiliates of the purchasers'' would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million, according to the agreement.
The team's debt stood at $579 million as of January, according to a court filing, so McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars even after a $131 million divorce payment to former wife Jamie, taxes and legal and banking fees.
"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,'' McCourt said in a statement.
The Dodgers finished third in the NL West last season at 82-79 with just three sellouts. They fell short of 3 million in home attendance in a full season for the first time since 1992.