Well, this was totally unexpected. Jared Kushner — the boyish owner of the New York Observer, scion of a somewhat controversial money clan from the Big Apple, and husband to Ivanka Trump — has made it to the next round of bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers. How Kushner gets through when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn't is a mystery to me. But there he is. This is from Bill Shaikin at the LA Times:
Jared Kushner, born into a prominent New York real estate family and son-in-law of Donald Trump, has emerged as a candidate in the bidding for the Dodgers.
Kushner, who became owner and publisher of the New York Observer in 2006, has played a key role in expanding the family business beyond real estate. At 31, he would be the youngest owner in Major League Baseball.
The Kushner bid is one of at least nine to advance to the second round of the Dodgers' ownership sweepstakes. The bid has not previously surfaced publicly and was confirmed by a person familiar with the sale process but not authorized to discuss it.
I'll put this in the context of my previous handicapping of the remaining bidders. First, does Kushner have enough money to finance the deal — or buy the team outright? The eventual purchase price is likely to be between $1.5 and $2 billion. Both hedge-fund king Steven Cohen and L.A. private-equity dude Tom Barrack are probably well-enough capitalized to satisfy Dodgers owner Frank McCourt on this front. Especially Cohen, who's worth more than $8 billion, even without winding down his $30-billion-plus hedge fund.
Meanwhile, L.A. developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, while maybe not as rich as the big money guys, have probably the best on-two punch in the bidding. Caruso most likely has a plan to transform Dodgers Stadium and Chavez Ravine into a sort of Grove on the Hill, while Torre knows how to run a baseball team. Major League Baseball should like this arrangement.
Kushner's liability is that his father has a criminal record. Jared himself seems pretty much squeaky clean. But the family business has some serious baggage.
Also, you have to ask whether someone with roots in New York media and real estate can really do what needs to be done with one of the most famous franchises in baseball. AND if Kushner wins the bidding, inevitable questions would arise about the role that Donald Trump would play in the future of the team, the stadium, and the city.
This is the place where I have to say that plot has definitely thickened...