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Joe Torre to bid on Dodgers

Former manager of the club joins forces with developer Rick Caruso in an effort to purchase the team.

January 04, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

Caruso is well known among civic leaders, if not among fans. Although he is a developer, he is focusing on the baseball team and has no plan for the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, according to a person familiar with his thinking. McCourt is not obligated to include that land in the sale of the team.

The investment banker working with Caruso and Torre is Byron Trott of BDT Capital in Chicago, described in a London Evening Standard article as the only banker Warren Buffett trusts.

Caruso has no sports ownership experience, but Torre brings baseball credibility to the bid.

Torre would not return as Dodgers manager. His protege, Don Mattingly, would remain in place. Instead, Torre likely would oversee the Dodgers' baseball operations.

Larry Bowa, who coached under Torre with the Dodgers and Yankees, called Torre "a great baseball mind who can get the organization back to where it should be."

Said Bowa: "I'm a little biased, but I think he would be perfect."

Bowa said Torre could devise a plan without suffocating the freedom of the executives responsible for implementing it.

"He trusts the people he hires and lets them work," Bowa said.

Robert Beyer, chairman of Chaparal Investments and a Dodgers season-ticket holder since 1970, called Caruso "singularly qualified" to buy the team, citing his experience in developing comfortable public spaces that do not require hefty admission fees.

Beyer, a member of the Milwaukee Brewers' board of directors, is not involved in the Caruso-Torre bid group.

At Dodger Stadium, McCourt added luxury seats and improved facilities on the loge level. He could not secure financing to continue the improvements on other levels.

"The fan experience at Dodger Stadium has not caught up to what it needs to be," Beyer said. "The stadium has been improved, but it has not been improved equally for all fans. As a result, the family experience is inadequate.

"First class doesn't have to mean everything is expensive."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/billshaikin

Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.

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