Meet the Dodgers' new ownership team. Who do you think that tall guy in the XXXL jersey in the middle bearing number 12 is?
The new Dodgers owners are in the middle of a Vin Scully-emceed press conference on a gray and rainy day at Dodger Stadium (let's hope the old wedding adage about bad weather is proven true in this new betrothal). Magic Johnson provided the rousing message about making the team back into winners, living up to the legacy of the great players of the past.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the usual politician things.
Interestingly, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig didn't make it to centerfield.
Stan Kasten, the veteran baseball pro who'll be running Dodger operations, quipped that "he'd been under a gag order" for six months, then highlighted the "TLC" that Dodger Stadium, turning 50 this year, needs. He spoke of "enhancements," of bringing the experience "into the 21st century." Given the fan exodus that the Dodgers saw over the past few years, and given that the stadium is no longer thought of as a safe place to see a game, Kasten pressed home a message about serving the team's loyalists. He even rolled out an email suggestion box: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if that sounds kind of old school, he also nodded toward social media.
However, the real mystery man in the new management group, known as Guggenheim Baseball Management, is Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter, who's the financing behind the $2.15-billion purchase, a record for a U.S. pro sports team. I was particularly interested in what he had to say, because his bid beat out hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, who has $8 billion personally to play with. The GBM bid was at $1.6 billion just a week before the sale got done. Where did Walter fund another $500 million? Insurance funds, it seems, part of Guggenheim's $125-billion portfolio of assets.
Plus, I'm at the Milken Global Conference this week, where I'm basically surrounded by Guggenheim Partners employees. Guggenheim is a sponsor of the event, but as far as I can tell, Walter isn't planning on making an appearance here.
After Kasten provided his front-office pep talk, a host of Dodger greats were introduced, Magic and the fellas got their Dodger jerseys (and wow, is it weird to see Magic, so familiar in the gold and purple of the Lakers, in Dodgers regalia).
The Q&A is starting now. I'll update accordingly.
Oh, and BIG ANNOUNCEMENT from Magic: Parking at Dodger Stadium will drop to $10 from $15.
UPDATE: The new owners clarify that McCourt does have what has been repeatedly characterized as an "economic interest" in the development of the parking lots. However, they don't seem to have any development plans on the table at the moment.
UPDATE 2: On the purchase price, Walter says that the market set it. But that doesn't entirely make sense, given the team sold for far more than the initial accepted bids. And of course GBM's winning bid was accepted with no auction.