The group, headed by the Lakers legend Magic Johnson who is known for community… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
A group led by Lakers legend Magic Johnson emerged Tuesday night as the new owners of the Dodgers, ending months of uncertainty for the storied but troubled baseball franchise.
Johnson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA championships during the "Showtime" era of the 1980s, is a partner in the group along with longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber. The controlling owner would be Mark Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services company.
Walter and McCourt met privately in New York on Tuesday, coming to an agreement only hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three final bidders.
The winning group paid $2 billion for the team -- a record for a sports franchise -- according to an announcement issued jointly with previous owner Frank McCourt.
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise," Johnson said in the statement, adding the new owners "intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section."
After taking the team into bankruptcy last year, McCourt had sought to retain control of the parking lots surrounding the ballpark. It was announced he and "certain affiliates" of the new ownership will be "forming a joint venture, which will acquire the Chavez Ravine property for an additional $150 million."
Johnson's group will control the parking lots for Dodgers games and work with McCourt on any future development.
In the statement, McCourt said the sale "reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community."
The announcement Tuesday ended three years of turmoil during which the team's performance on the field deteriorated and the front office struggled financially.
McCourt chose Johnson's group over St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and a partnership of hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988, their sixth championship in half a century of O'Malley family ownership. The Johnson group would become the Dodgers' third owner since the O'Malleys sold the team in 1998, following News Corp. and McCourt.
The sale must be confirmed by the court in a hearing April 13. The transaction is set to close by April 30, the same day McCourt must pay his ex-wife $131 million in a divorce settlement.
If the deal closes as expected, the Dodgers would be owned by an entity called Guggenheim Baseball Partners. Kasten, former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, would run the team.
"Stan Kasten is my man," Johnson told The Times in announcing his bid last December. "He's a winner. He's built two incredible organizations, and he's well-respected. That is what was important to me. I had to get with a winner, a guy who understands baseball inside and out."
The sales price was nearly three times the previous record price for a baseball franchise, $845 million for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.
The bulk of the funding to buy the Dodgers came from Guggenheim. Walter is not expected to play a significant role in the day-to-day operation of the Dodgers.
Guggenheim President Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton were also listed as partners.
Johnson, who has built a reputation for community involvement since his playing days ended, would own a small stake in the Dodgers, as would Guber, who is co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors. Johnson and Guber are partners in the Dayton Dragons, a minor league baseball team that has sold out 844 consecutive games, an ongoing record in U.S. professional sports.
Johnson brought five championships to Los Angeles, marrying sports and entertainment as leader of the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s. The three-time NBA most valuable player was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, by which time he had launched a business empire that has included movie theaters, banks, restaurants and film production.
Johnson, 52, also has invested in -- and sparked public awareness of -- the fight against HIV, the illness that prompted him to retire from the NBA in 1991.
The announcement of the sale, and next week's dawn of the new season, could herald brighter days ahead for the Dodgers, a civic treasure battered and bruised for the last three years.
McCourt bought the Dodgers in 2004 for $430 million, with what one of his divorce attorneys said was "not a penny" of his own cash. He nearly doubled team revenue -- from $156 million in 2003 to $286 million in 2009, according to court documents -- and the Dodgers reached the playoffs four times in his first six seasons of ownership.
On the eve of the 2009 National League championship series -- with the Dodgers about to make their first back-to-back NLCS appearances in 31 years -- the McCourts announced they had separated.