Explaining Southern California's economy

What are the chances that the Dodgers will create a regional sports network?

Dodgers New Owners

Corey Moore/KPCC

The Dodgers' new ownership team paid $2 billion for the team and have a payroll over $200 million for 2013. They need a huge broadcast contract.

Better, it turns out, than they were a few weeks ago. The Dodgers — purchased by Guggenheim Baseball Management for $2 billion and with a 2013 payroll of almost $211 million — need to bring in a lot of revenue from a new broadcast contract. The team's current deal with Fox Sports, which concludes in 2013, is for $350 million. 

That's peanuts compared to the crackerjack (Sorry! Ballpark humor...) deal that Fox and the Dodgers concocted and presented to Major League Baseball a couple of weeks ago, says Forbes' redoubtable sports business correspondent, Mike Ozanian: $6.1 billion, to create a hybrid regional sports network/renewal deal with Fox.

The size of that jump in the numbers should surprise no one. Guggenheim Baseball Management — a sort of sports-oriented private equity sub-firm created by Mark Walter of Chicago-based Guggenheim partners, Stan Kasten, and Magic Johnson — paid $2 billion for the Dodgers on the assumption that the broadcast contract would be ginormous.

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Why LA should be glad Steven Cohen didn't buy the Dodgers

Hedge Fund Manager Charged In Major Insider Trading Case Appears In Court

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Former hedge fund portfolio manager Mathew Martoma exits a New York federal court after being charged in one of the biggest insider trading cases in history. He worked for CR Intrinsic Investors LLC, a firm that was associated with Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors.

Speculation about the size of a potential deal for AEG — estimates range from $8-$10 billion — has quickly made Angelenos forget about the $2-billion-plus price that Guggenheim Baseball Management and Magic Johnson paid for the L.A. Dodgers earlier this year. Angelenos may have forgotten something else: Until Guggenheim Partners swept in from Chicago to add another half billion to the deal, the price for team was hovering around $1.6 billion and the leading bidder was Steven Cohen.

As I explained at the time, Cohen — one of Forbes' wealthiest Americans, with a net worth north of $8 billion — was one of the few bidders for the Dodgers who could basically write a check for the team. In fact, that seemed the likely outcome, until Mark Walter and Guggenheim emerged from the background. Cohen had even paired up with local L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest guy in town. It wasn't enough in the end to trump Guggenheim's bid.

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AEG sale: Guggenheim Partners and Soon-Shiong form bidding group

Government And Business Leaders Speak At Urban Economic Forum In Los Angeles

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Magic Johnson greets Patrick Soon-Shiong during a Urban Economic Forum co-hosted by White House Business Council and U.S. Small Business Administration. They could be partners (sort of) if Soon-Shiong and Guggenheim Partners buy AEG.

Patrick Soon-Shiong — the richest man in Los Angeles, minority owner of the Lakers, and recently thwarted suitor for the Dodgers — has reportedly hooked up with none other than the investors who did the thwarting on his billion-plus bid for the Boys in Blue: Guggenheim Partners.

Or at least the adventurous investing subset of Guggenheim — a relatively staid Chicago-based manager of insurance-fund investments and other assets totaling around $180 billion — made up of CEO Mark Walter and executive Tim Boehly. They formed Guggenheim Baseball Management with Magic Johnson as a front man to snatch the Dodgers away from Soon-Shiong and hedge-funder Steven Cohen at the eleventh hour, with a bid more than $500 million above what anyone had expected.

It was the biggest deal in U.S. sports up to that point. But if Soon-Shiong, Walter, Boehly and whoever else they yank onboard manages to buy all of AEG, the deal would blow the Dodgers' $2 billion away. It could go for anywhere from $4 billion to even as high as $7 or $8 billion.

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Frank McCourt: Businessman of the year?

LAPD Takes Over Security At Dodgers Games After Attack On Giants Fan

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Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. He sold the team, but kept the parking lots, to the tune of $14 million a year.

Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been officially sold, for the record-setting price of $2 billion, we can, without emotion, consider the accomplishment of former owner Frank McCourt.

You'd have to seriously consider him for the title of businessman of the year. Seriously.

Why? Because in 2004, McCourt bought the Dodgers for $430 million, using effectively none of his own money. After satisfying the various debts related to the team as it emerged from bankruptcy court into the arms of Magic Johnson's ownership group, Guggenheim Baseball Management (GMB), McCourt should clear something like $1 billion. He had to pay his ex-wife $131 million in their divorce settlement — but the side deal he did for the Dodger Stadium parking lots amounted to $3 billion, split between himself and what has been described as an "entity" associated with the new owners. At $150 million, his half wound up being worth close to $20 million more than Jamie's payout.

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Dodger press conference: Meet the new owners

Dodgers New Owners

Corey Moore/KPCC

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: fanbox@ladodgers.com. And if that sounds kind of old school, he also nodded toward social media.

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