Lakers great Magic Johnson, top, hugs fellow Dodgers owner Peter Guber… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
One of the biggest sports and entertainment moguls in Southern California took a back seat to the other Guggenheim money men Wednesday as the incoming Dodgers owners attempted to set the tone for a new era.
Former movie studio boss Peter Guber, who has built an empire of popular minor league baseball teams, left the news conference speeches to his partners and later deflected questions about how he might like to see the parking lots around Dodger Stadium developed.
Restaurants, shopping centers and hotels can be found or are planned on the acres surrounding his ballparks in such cities as Frisco, Texas; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and Dayton, Ohio.
"I don't know if something like that would be popular up here," he said, while standing in center field wearing a suit and a Dodgers cap.
The other new owners acknowledged that real estate development in Chavez Ravine might occur in the future, but, like them, Guber insisted that the first priority is to renovate and upgrade the Dodgers' aging stadium.
"This is your lightning rod and your beacon," he said. "If you don't get this right, all they're going to build [in the parking lots] is a roach coach selling Frosty Freeze," he said.
While new Dodgers President Stan Kasten vowed to start with improvements to stadium operating systems including water and power, Guber spitballed such ideas as "fast-track parking" and enhanced service for cellphones.
His tempered remarks were an exercise in apparent humility for the onetime film and record producer from Boston who became one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Among the films he produced were "Rain Man," "Flashdance" and "Batman."
He and Magic Johnson have a long partnership. Guber was chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment when he green-lighted the development of Magic Johnson Theaters at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in the mid-1990s.
They're also partners in ownership of the Dayton Dragons, a Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Guber, 70, is a minority partner in the Dodgers. He is chairman and chief executive of Los Angeles-based Mandalay Entertainment Group, which owns five minor league baseball teams and produces movies and television shows.
Guber is also a co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.
"This is an emotional transportation business," he said of sports. "It's about moving people emotionally."