*Earvin “Magic” Johnson appeared Wednesday morning at Dodger Stadium alongside Los Angeles Dodgers baseball legends – including iconic announcer Vin Scully, onetime owner Peter O’Malley, former manager Tommy Lasorda and more than a dozen former players – at an event to introduce the team’s new ownership group.
Johnson and Chicago-based financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, purchased the team from beleaguered former owner Frank McCourt for $2.15 billion. The deal closed May 1.
Johnson was joined on a stage in Dodger Stadium’s center field by Guggenheim CEO Mark Walter, the team’s controlling owner, and partner Stan Kasten, the former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president. After an introduction from Scully, who told the throng of more than 100 reporters and L.A. luminaries including Larry King and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that he expected the new owners to take the team “higher than the Sistine Chapel” ceiling, the group spoke about its plans.
Johnson choked up at one point and told the audience, “I can’t even put it in words. …God is so good. And I know that because I am standing here a Dodger owner.”
New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton, Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, Earvin "Magic' Johnson," Peter Guber, and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
Also introduced were Peter Guber and a handful of other minority owners. Guber, the Mandalay Entertainment CEO, has a long history in the sports business world. He has been co-owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors since July 2010, and Mandalay Entertainment owns and/or manages several minor-league baseball teams. After the press conference, Guber spoke with The Hollywood Reporter and said that he would use his experience in Hollywood and apply it to the Dodgers.
“It is show business, it is entertainment,” Guber said. “A fan comes to the stadium, and the minute he or she makes the decision … every moment is a connection that you have to have with that audience. And if you fail them in any one place, they will remember that even more than the successes.”
Guber said he would draw on his experience owning minor league teams to make the Dodgers “fan friendly” and “generous to the audience.”
“We are in the emotional transportation business,” Guber said. “We have to move people emotionally.” When asked what his involvement would be day-to-day, Guber joked, “Big financial involvement. B-I-G.”
Johnson and Guber are already business partners. The NBA hall of famer is an investor in Mandalay’s Dayton Dragons, a Class A team that has sold out more than 800 consecutive games at its 7,230-seat ballpark. And when Guber was CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment from 1989 to 1995, he helped Johnson launch his chain of movie theaters. “I’ve been in sports for 17 years. This isn’t my first rodeo,” Guber said.