Welcome to February. A new month means that we are both closer to the delightful beginning of Spring Training and the new chapter in ownership for the Dodgers. Our beloved team is priceless in our eyes, but one of the nine bidding groups who advanced to the second round of the auction process will inevitably plunk down an exact and foreseeable hefty sum for the team. How much will the bidding war crescendo to?
Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted this nugget of insight Tuesday:
Larry King just told us that his group that included Dennis Gilbert was eliminated after $1.25 billion bid for the Dodgers. Might take 1.6b 31 Jan 12
With bidding in this range, groups have begun to add new investors and discuss mergers.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports cites Magic Johnson’s group as the favorite. He also links Patrick Soon-Shiong, the biotech billionaire, to the group since he is good friends with Johnson and previously bought Magic’s share of the Los Angeles Lakers. He is CEO of Abraxis BioScience which develops cancer drugs. He reportedly has $7.2 billion, making him the richest man in Los Angeles, but he is still on the fence until the bidders are thinned out more. Magic and Stan Kasten already have Mark Walter from Guggenheim Partners in their corner as well.
Steven Cohen, the insanely rich hedge-fund manager, will be a force to reckon with if it comes down to sheer wealth and the highest bid. He has $15 billion, and has added a few key players to his group. Steve Greenberg, the baseball investment banker, and agent Arn Tellem joined forces with Cohen. One advantage the Magic group has on Cohen is there were some shady insider trading scandals at the hands of Cohen’s cohorts at his firm. MLB will undoubtedly be taking a further look into that.
Ron Burkle, who is worth $3.2 billion and ranked as the fifth richest man in L.A., may also join one of the groups. Burkle is co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and has attempted to purchase the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, and the Sacramento Kings. It is speculated that he could join the Joe Torre/Rick Caruso or the Stanley Gold/Disney group.
There was also reports that potential owners have already been in contact with Derrick Hall, the Dodgers’ former VP of Communications. He is currently the Arizona Diamondbacks’ president and CEO, and has battled back against a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Popular in baseball, Hall would be an asset to any organization but especially one like the bankrupt Dodgers who desperately need a fresh start after the McCourt era drove out such well-respected guys like Hall. The Dodgers have been without a working president since they got rid of Dennis Mannion over a year ago. Read this inspiring piece on Hall by Steve Hensen of Yahoo! Sports.
The battle of the behemoth billionaires is just getting heated up. Alliances are being forged while the MLB is playing investigator into the backgrounds of these ultra-rich investors who are looking to of course invest. That’s what they do. Invest in something and then hopefully turn a profit. The Dodgers are not only an iconic and cherished baseball club, but it is also a business. Let’s just hope the new owner has something left in the bank to put on the field after the winning bid is chosen.