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The Dodgers, dollars, and development

The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.
pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

AirTalk had a great segment today on the many bidders for the Dodgers, currently in bankruptcy, but in need of a buyer from embattled owner Frank McCourt by April 30. Host Larry Mantle was joined by Bill Shaikin of the LA Times and KPCC's own Nick Roman to assess the suitors.

To me, it boils down to money guys versus sports guys, with the recently announced Rick Caruso-Joe Torre partnership as the best of both worlds. That said, McCourt controls the sale, as Shaikin pointed out. And so it may be that the team winds up going to the highest bidder.

I don't think anyone can outbid hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen. He has enough money to buy the team two or three times. 

But Nick made a strong case for developer know-how. Cohen made his bones on Wall Street as an aggressive trader. He rarely owned anything for more than a few days. In some cases, he probably bought and sold huge numbers of assets in a few hours.

Caruso, by contrast, has the LA city government connections necessary to transform the area around Dodger Stadium into a residential-and-retail magnet. Right now, it's a parking lot and a sort of sprawling park. So if you agree that buying the Dodgers is about buying the land, not just the team, then Caruso-Torre in the Dynamic Duo. Joe can run the baseball while Rick does his magic with Chavez Ravine.

That said, the price appears to headed north fast. What was $1 billion is now $1.6 billion. And there's no reason why McCourt won't wash his hands of the team and try to walk away with as much money as possible.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.