Magic Johnson buys Dodgers on this date in 2012

Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers, (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers, (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The iconic Dodgers franchise is sold to an ownership group led by Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson.

Magic Johnson, the showtime star, who made his name in Los Angeles recording triple doubles, flashing his million dollar smile, and hoisting NBA championship trophies, led an ownership group with sports executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record $2 billion on this date in 2012.

The sale marked the end of a tumultuous tenure with Frank McCourt owning the team. McCourt drove the franchise into bankruptcy, nearly running out of cash to pay his players. After buying the Dodgers for $430 million in 2004, the Boston real estate developer leveraged the team into a reported $433 million of debt only five years later. A messy divorce proceeding between McCourt and his wife of 30 years, Jamie McCourt, muddied the waters even more. With the situation spiraling out of control, Major League Baseball was forced to make an unprecedented move of taking over control of the team in 2011.

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The ownership group that eventually formed to purchase the Dodgers from McCourt, Guggenheim Baseball Management, is led by investor Mark Walter, who is chairman and controlling owner of the Dodgers. Walter made his fortune as co-founder of Guggenheim Capital, LLC, a global investment firm with more than $250 billion in assets.

Partner Stan Kasten brought a sports executive pedigree to the ownership group, having been the first sports figure to hold the title of president of three different teams in three different sports (Braves, Hawks, and Thrashers), according to the Dodgers website. He currently serves as president and CEO of the team.

Peter Guber is chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, a film production company that has produced recognizable films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Sleepy Hollow. He is also an owner and co-executive chairman of the Golden State Warriors, as well as executive chairman of the LAFC soccer club.

Magic Johnson brought fame and credibility to the ownership group. Beloved by Los Angeles sports fans, he presented a trustworthy executive after the Dodgers faithful had been spurned by McCourt. Johnson would later become president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. He stepped down in 2019 to focus more on his business ventures, including the Dodgers.

Since changing ownership hands, the Dodgers have become a perennial contender in the National League, qualifying for the playoffs every season since 2013, appearing in four National League Championship Series, and two World Series.

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The Dodgers would later sell a minority stake of the team in 2019 to two additional investors, but the minority sale didn’t change the controlling ownership of the team.