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Johnson Teams With Mandalay

The joint venture will invest in urban renewal projects in minor league baseball towns.

June 02, 2005|From Associated Press

Former NBA star Earvin "Magic" Johnson has teamed with Mandalay Entertainment Group to invest in urban renewal projects anchored by minor league baseball stadiums, a Mandalay executive said Wednesday.

One such project could involve a new home worth $25 million to $35 million for the Mandalay-owned Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets based in Maryland, said Richard W. Neumann, a vice president of the Mandalay Baseball unit.

The Los Angeles-based entertainment conglomerate also owns teams in Las Vegas; Dayton, Ohio; Frisco, Texas; and Erie, Pa., and is looking for opportunities in other cities, including Baton Rouge, La., he said.

The new joint venture, Magic Johnson-Mandalay Baseball Development Co., is partly funded by Johnson Development Corp., formed in 1993 in Beverly Hills to help revitalize neglected neighborhoods, Neumann said. Its projects include movie theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, mortgage lending and commercial real estate development.

Neumann wouldn't say how much money privately held Mandalay had committed to the venture. Johnson Development didn't return calls Wednesday.

Johnson owns 5% of Mandalay's Dayton Dragons, a Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The owners contributed $5.5 million toward the cost of a $23-million stadium in a run-down warehouse district that opened in 2000 and routinely sells out its 7,230 seats. Neumann said Johnson-Mandalay now planned to invest in the surrounding neighborhood.

He said the model for other Johnson-Mandalay projects was the 8,800-seat Frisco RoughRiders stadium, about 20 miles north of Dallas, which opened in 2003 as the centerpiece of a complex featuring acres of office, retail, residential and hotel space.

The idea is to "turn our business model into one that creates multi, multimillion-dollar economic development projects where, frankly, the baseball can recede into the background because it's much more than just that," Neumann said.

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