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Magic Johnson leads one of seven Dodgers bidding groups to advance

The owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and a Milwaukee Brewers investor are in two groups eliminated from the process Monday. Sources say Johnson's group is among five potential owners with L.A. ties that remain in contention.

February 27, 2012|By Bill Shaikin
  • Magic Johnson, above, and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten lead one of the seven remaining groups in contention to buy the Dodgers.
Magic Johnson, above, and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten lead… (Chris O'Meara / Associated…)

Magic Johnson leads one of seven groups selected Monday to advance in bidding to buy the Dodgers, according to multiple people familiar with the process but not authorized to discuss it.

Of the nine parties still in contention last week, the two eliminated Monday were Michael Heisley, owner of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies; and Tony Ressler, a minority investor in the Milwaukee Brewers and co-founder of Los Angeles-based Ares Management.

The remaining bidders include groups led by Johnson and veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten; Connecticut investment king Steven Cohen and longtime Los Angeles agent Arn Tellem; Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney; and New York media executive Leo Hindery in partnership with Tom Barrack, chairman of Santa Monica-based Colony Capital.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Beverly Hills-based real estate developer Alan Casden and Jared Kushner, owner and publisher of the New York Observer and son-in-law of Donald Trump, also remain in contention.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his advisors expect the team to sell for more than $1.5 billion. The record sale price for an American professional sports franchise is $1.1 billion, set when Stephen Ross bought the Miami Dolphins in 2009.

The remaining bidders proceed to a multilayered review by Major League Baseball, including consideration by two committees of owners. Each bidder then will be subject to a vote of all owners, with three-fourths approval required.

If a bidder is not cleared to proceed to the ownership vote, McCourt can ask a court-appointed mediator to intervene. If a bidder is rejected in the ownership vote, McCourt has no recourse.

MLB is expected to inform McCourt which bidders have been approved in mid- to late March. McCourt is then expected to hold a final round of bidding before selecting the winner.

He has agreed to identify the Dodgers' new owner by April 1 and submit the sale transaction for court approval by April 6. He also has agreed to close the deal by April 30, the day he must pay $131 million to his ex-wife in a divorce settlement.

McCourt took the Dodgers into bankruptcy last June, after MLB had refused to approve a television contract that he said would have put the team on a solid financial footing.

In November, he agreed to sell the Dodgers. In exchange, MLB granted several concessions, including the right to select the new owner and the right to sell the team but keep the Dodger Stadium parking lots.

Prospective buyers submitted opening bids by Jan. 23. Within one week, 11 bidders had been approved to continue in the process, with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and a group led by Chicago White Sox executive and longtime agent Dennis Gilbert each eliminated.

Former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, backed in part by the South Korean conglomerate E-Land, and a group led by Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre subsequently withdrew from the bidding.

In a letter to MLB, Caruso said he would reenter the process if McCourt would agree to sell the Dodger Stadium parking lots.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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