I’ve got some bad news for you. If you were planning to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, you may have missed the boat. Monday was the “soft deadline” to put your money where your mouth is and make a serious offer to purchase the team from current owner Frank McCourt. By “soft” it means bankers can still pass along any future bid they consider legitimate.
McCourt, who paid about $430 million for the team in 2004, said he received “more than 10 bids” to buy the historic franchise from him. Reports are the bidding price could go as high as $1.5 billion dollars. Most of the bidders announced Monday were previously reported to be serious about taking over the team.
There were many names familiar to both Dodgers fans and non-fans alike. Current Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, and former Lakers star Magic Johnson all followed through on earlier reports they had the necessary financial backing. Former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley was also on the list. His foray into the process came as a bit of a surprise.
The much-beloved O’Malley was the rare breed of owner who made the bulk of his money from the team. He somewhat reluctantly sold the Dodgers to FOX in1998 stating the game had changed to the point an individual could no longer afford a team and only entities with multiple revenue streams could handle baseball’s economic realities.
O’Malley’s potential winning bid brings with it one caveat Dodgers fans may not like. He never embraced free agency as so many other successful teams did. O’Malley stuck to his belief of building from within. Fans were disappointed when he let fan favorites such as Steve Garvey and Ron Cey walk away when their contracts expired. Both had productive years after their Dodgers tenure and Cey has commented to me he was disappointed the team let economics break up the core of a team with some gas still in the tank.
The one time O’Malley did decide to take a major step into the free agency realm, it turned into a nightmare. The Dodgers signed Los Angeles native Darryl Strawberry to a five year, $20 million deal in 1991. Strawberry delivered that year with 28 home runs and 99 RBI. But a series of injuries and arrests saw Strawberry play in only 75 games over the next two years. The final straw, so to speak, came in 1994 after Strawberry went AWOL after the final spring training game. Strawberry’s drug issue came to light and the Dodgers released him. Unfortunately, Strawberry’s contract forced O’Malley to fork over almost $5 million more to the beleaguered superstar.
Other bidders include financier Steve Cohen, who made a play for the Mets some time back; a group that includes members of the Disney family; former sports agent Dennis Gilbert; former Dodger Steve Garvey”s group; and another Wall Street moneymaker, Marc Utay. Like Cuban, Utay made a run at the Chicago Cubs in 2008. One name completely out of left field was 36 year old Joshua Macciello who heads up some company called Armital Sports. Finally, rumors still surround current St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kronke. He recently announced he was exploring a bid on the Dodgers but his name did not appear on the bid list released to the media.
The bid amounts are not etched in concrete at this point. The scuttlebutt is many investors bid a lot higher than what they actually want to pay just to be sure McCourt takes them seriously.