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Agreement reached to sell Dodgers to Magic Johnson group for $2 Billion

OW Staff | 3/28/2012, 5 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (CNS)--The Los Angeles Dodgers announced they have reached an agreement to be acquired by a group led by Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson for $2 billion, the highest price for a professional sports team.

Outgoing owner Frank McCourt and certain affiliates of the purchasers will also be forming a joint venture which will acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium for an additional $150 million.

"This transaction underscores the debtors' objective to maximize the value of their estate and to emerge from Chapter 11 under a successful plan of reorganization, under which all creditors are paid in full," according to a statement from the Dodgers.

In an auction under the auspices of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, McCourt chose the group officially known as Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC over St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and a partnership of hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and 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 in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," said Johnson, who helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships during his Hall of Fame career.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was "excited to hear" that Johnson's group was selected as the winning bidder.

"Magic's ownership ensures the team will have the guidance of a committed Angeleno," Villaraigosa said.

Johnson, who is a big baseball fan, is expected to be involved in all aspects of the Dodger franchise, said a source close to the action. He will also have an office at Dodger Stadium.

The sale must be confirmed by the court April 13, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is set to close by April 30, the same day McCourt must pay his ex-wife Jamie $131 million in a divorce settlement, according to the Times.

The bulk of the funding to buy the Dodgers came from Guggenheim Partners, a global financial services firm, the Times reported.

Mark R. Walter, the chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, will be the controlling partner of Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC. However, he is not expected to play a significant role in the day-to-day operation of the team, the Times reported.

In addition to Johnson, the group also includes former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten; Peter Guber, chairman and chief executive officer of the Mandalay Entertainment Group, which produces movies and owns a portion of the NBA's Golden State Warriors; Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly.

The Dodgers would be run by Kasten, according to the Times.
McCourt and Major League Baseball reached an agreement Nov. 1 to a "court supervised process" to sell the team, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June.