Dodgers sold to Magic Johnson's group for 2B


Dodgers sold to Magic Johnson's group for 2B

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- One Los Angeles institution is buying another. A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record 2 billion. The price would shatter the mark for a sports franchise. Stephen Ross paid 1.1 billion for the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2009, and in England, Malcolm Glazer and his family took over the Manchester United soccer club in 2005 in a deal then valued at 1.47 billion. Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner. The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court. "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," Johnson said in a statement. As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and "certain affiliates of the purchasers" would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for 150 million. "If they invested that much money, I'm sure they'll invest to get us a winner," said Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers' retired Hall of Fame manager. "I wish them all the luck, and I admire them. I know both of them. I know Magic from the day he came into Los Angeles as a basketball player for the Lakers." The acquiring group, called Guggenheim Baseball Management, has several other investors, among them Mandalay Entertainment chief executive Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton, who operates oil and gas properties among his investments. Kasten is the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. "I am truly honored to have partnered with such talented individuals and to be associated with the Dodgers organization," said Walter. "We look forward to building upon the legacy of the Dodgers and providing long-term stability to one of the most revered franchises in baseball." The 52-year-old Johnson played 13 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and three MVP awards in a Hall of Fame career. He retired from the NBA in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He briefly came out of retirement during the 1995-96 season and had a short stint coaching the Lakers. Since leaving basketball, he has been very successful in business, investing in movie theaters, a production company and restaurants. He has also been an activist in the fight against HIV. "I'm upset he didn't cut me in," current Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. "I'm going to have to talk to him about that." McCourt paid 430 million in 2004 to buy the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that include the parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., a sale that left the team with about 50 million in cash at the time. The team's debt stood at 579 million as of January, according to a court filing, so McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars even after a 131 million divorce payment to former wife Jamie, taxes and legal and banking fees. Kasten is expected to wind up as the team's top day-to-day executive. The other two finalists were: -- Stan Kroenke, whose family owns the NFL's St. Louis Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids. He also is majority shareholder of Arsenal in the English Premier League. -- Steven Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and a new limited partner of the New York Mets; biotechnology entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong; and agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group. It remains to be seen whether Major League Baseball will challenge the deal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where the case is before Judge Kevin Gross. Under an agreement reached by MLB and McCourt in November, a private auction was to be held among the finalists and McCourt was to select the winner by Sunday. The sales agreement is to be submitted to the bankruptcy court by April 6, ahead of a hearing seven days later, and the sale completed by April 30, the day McCourt is to make a divorce settlement payment. "This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community," McCourt said in a statement. The acquiring group would gain the ability to sell the Dodgers' local broadcasting rights starting with games in 2014. The Guggenheim group likely would use money gained from the rights sale -- or from the team's own network with outside investment -- and use those funds to pay down the acquisition debt. "The amount of leverage is a big question," said Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp, which is not involved. "The likely scenario is that they have a broadcasting deal in mind so that they pay up now and pay themselves down from a big broadcasting upfront payment. "The problem with this strategy is that the more paid upfront by the broadcast deal, the less money is available for team operations. The more debt they take on, the more debt service is required, the less money that's available for team operations. With the only beneficiary being the man walking out the door. A challenging result that baseball tried to avoid." The current record for a baseball franchise is the 845 million paid by the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs in 2009. The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in late June, just days before the team was expected to miss payroll. The filing came after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve a 17-year agreement between the Dodgers and Fox's Prime Ticket subsidiary that would have been worth 2 billion or more. MLB feared McCourt would use about half of an intended 385 million cash advance to fund his divorce. Los Angeles finished third in the NL West last season at 82-79, had just three sellouts and fell short of 3 million in home attendance in a full season for the first time since 1992. There was some concern among MLB officials about the financing of the Walter bid because some of the money was coming from insurance companies that are owned by Guggenheim. A person familiar with the baseball owners' teleconference Tuesday said several team owners voiced that during the call. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because MLB did not make any announcements. "The problem there is a fundamental problem as you go into an auction, and that is the absolute reliance on other people's money," said Ganis. "It means a lot of regulators. It means either shareholders or, depending on which insurance companies it's coming from, the insured themselves." Kasten was hired as legal counsel of the Braves and the NBA's Hawks in 1976, and three years later became the NBA's youngest general manager at 27. He was promoted to president of the Braves and Hawks in 1986 and also became president of the NHL's Thrashers in 1999. After leaving the Atlanta teams in 2003, he became president of the Washington Nationals from 2006-10. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti recently had dinner with Kasten in Glendale, Ariz., the team's spring training home. "He's very successful, very driven, relentless in his pursuit of excellence," Colletti said. "He's seen a lot and he's won a lot." The Dodgers have won six World Series titles but none since 1988, when they were still owned by the O'Malley family that moved the team from Brooklyn to California after the 1957 season. Fox bought the team in 1998, then sold it to McCourt. Colletti, whose baseball moves appear to have been constricted because of the team's financial problems, says the sale announcement brings "clarity." "It's time to turn the page and move toward a new chapter in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers," he said.

Badgers' leading tackler Jack Cichy out for rest of season


Badgers' leading tackler Jack Cichy out for rest of season

Wisconsin trails Nebraska by two in the loss column in the Big Ten West Division standings and has a huge showdown with the top-10 Huskers on Saturday night in Madison.

But the road to Indy just got a little tougher, the Badgers announcing Monday that leading tackler Jack Cichy will miss the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Cichy had 60 tackles on the campaign as part of a world-class Wisconsin defense that ranks fourth in the country in scoring (14.3 points allowed a game) and ninth in yardage (300.6 yards allowed a game). His seven tackles for loss rank second on the team, and his 1.5 sacks rank third. He also forced a pair of fumbles in his seven games.

The Badgers have been plagued by injuries in the linebacking corps this season. Cichy's season-ending injury is the second that unit has experienced this year, as Chris Orr was knocked out for the year following an injury in the season-opening win over LSU. T.J. Edwards has been working his way back to full strength after suffering a foot injury this summer. And Vince Biegel missed a couple games with injury but returned to the lineup this past weekend, registering one tackle in the win over Iowa.

The Badgers, ranked 11th in the most recent AP poll, play host to the No. 7 Huskers on Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium.

Northwestern defensive back Matthew Harris opts to retire from football


Northwestern defensive back Matthew Harris opts to retire from football

Northwestern defensive back Matthew Harris has decided to end his football career, the team announced Monday.

Injured in the second game of the season, the senior Wildcat was still in the concussion protocol as of last week when he made the decision, and has suffered multiple injuries that have knocked him out of games throughout his time in Evanston.

“This is an incredibly difficult decision to reach, but it is the right one for me and for my future,” Harris said in the announcement. "I'm so thankful for (head coach Pat) Fitzgerald, (defensive backs coach Jerry) Brown and the rest of the staff that brought me to Northwestern and have mentored me over the last several years.

“My teammates are like brothers, and while not being on the field with them has been frustrating and challenging, I'm so proud of the group and what we've helped build together. I owe thanks to our athletic training and sports medicine staffs, whose care throughout my Wildcats career has been outstanding.

“Finally and most importantly, I can never appropriately express the love and gratitude I have for my family, which has supported me on every step of this journey and will continue to for years to come.

“There are few things I love more than playing the game of football, and the game has provided me with so many opportunities, including the chance to attend this university. It has been a blessing to be a part of this community and learn so many lessons. Northwestern has given me so much, I look forward to taking full advantage of my chance to give back to the world around me in the future.”

A team captain this season, Harris was a stellar player, earning All-Big Ten honors last season. In his career, he recorded 161 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, six interceptions and three forced fumbles in 37 games.

Harris, a native of La Grange Highlands and product of Lyons Township High School, earned praise from Fitzgerald and his teammates Monday, who talked glowingly about his character and involvement in the community, as well as his involvement in Northwestern and Big Ten athletics. This past summer, he created a multi-day program for underprivileged young men in Evanston. Harris is also one of the heads of Northwestern’s student-athlete advisory committee and serves on the Big Ten’s student-athlete advisory committee.

“It’s been a long road for Matthew from a standpoint of injuries,” Fitzgerald said during his weekly press conference Monday. “As we sat there and looked at not only the right now, but I talked to him and said, ‘I want to think about what it’s going to be like to be 42. Put yourself in my shoes and have three kids. Where do you want your life to be not knowing a lot but what you can control?’ And so I think he put great thought into it. I know he’s a man of faith, and I think he put his trust in that and relied heavily upon his family and our doctors. I fully support his decision. I think it’s the right thing for the short term and long term.

“Very thankful for what Matthew brought to our program. A young man that from the minute he stepped into our program was an instant impact as far as a person. Just a terrific, terrific young man, a great attitude, an amazing work ethic. And then his play speaks for itself. He was such a great teammate, giving of himself for everyone on the squad. The team gave him a standing ovation this morning when he announced it to the team, which I think shows you the impact that Matthew not only has had on our team but will continue to have on our team.

“He’s in great spirits. He actually made the decision last week. He didn’t want to have a distraction from the team late in the week. That just shows you who he is. He’s a special guy.”