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Magic Johnson and the power to veto Frank McCourt's theme park

May 10, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Magic Johnson smiles before Monday's Dodgers game against the San Francisco Giants. Johnson has the ability to veto any of Frank McCourt's proposals to develop the land surrounding Dodger Stadium.
Magic Johnson smiles before Monday's Dodgers game against the San… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

It’s Magic Johnson leading the break, Magic Johnson winning, Magic Johnson creating a personal empire, Magic Johnson … vetoing Frank McCourt?

Hey, there’s a little addition to his resume you probably didn’t seem coming. Now veto is Latin for "I forbid," so finally someone appears to have the ability to bar McCourt from skyrocketing further into his own universe. Of course, it only cost them $2.15 billion.

But as The Times’ Bill Shaikin reports, any development that has caught McCourt's latest fancy for the property surrounding Dodger Stadium -- that he continues to have a half interest in -- can be vetoed by Johnson.

I find this provision interesting for a couple of reasons. One, why Johnson? And two, it makes it pretty clear some kind of development is coming.

As to No.1, I guess the best answer is, somebody had to be given veto power. Guggenheim Baseball Management didn’t want to make like the United Nations Security Council and share their veto power, but go more presidential. So Johnson is the designated "no" man, and he’d better be.  At least he’s actually built things.

You already know McCourt has ideas. He always had ideas, he’s just had trouble following through on them.

He already announced his expansion plans for Dodger Stadium, calling it the "Next 50 Plan." The plan was to turn the stadium into a year-round destination, surrounded by shops, restaurants, a team museum, a lap pool for Jamie and a salon for some really overpriced haircuts. It was also supposed to have opened this season.

McCourt made the announcement for his Universal City Walk Meets Dodger Stadium thingy four years ago. You will be stunned to learn he had trouble raising the necessary financing.

Ironically, now he has tons of dough. As distasteful as it sounds, he’s a billionaire. Which also means, whatever ambitions he had in 2008 can at least be doubled. Who knows what he envisions now?

It’s clear by the agreement there already have been plenty of conversations between McCourt and Guggenheim about developing the approximately 300 acres around the Dodger Stadium that just happen to sit between three freeways, are a mile from downtown and have panoramic views of the Southland.

Said one of the new owners to me Monday: "Why hasn’t it been developed in the last 50 years?"

So despite their public caution about future development, at some point it clearly seems in play, which would also partially explain the record price for the team.

The agreement gives Johnson veto power of specific things such as buildings and parking garages, but also "any other action that would have an adverse effect on the fan experience at Dodger Stadium or otherwise be inconsistent with the preferences of a Guggenheim Baseball Management member."

That sounds just vague enough to be a McCourt lawsuit waiting to happen.

Any development would have to be approved by the City of Los Angeles. Given what McCourt just put everyone through the last few years, the city can’t be too eager to cozy up to him. So just maybe, there could be yet one other veto out there. We'll take all we can get.

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Magic Johnson and the power to veto Frank McCourt's theme park

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