It was suppose to be a normal Wednesday morning for me. The NFL in a virtual code of silence over ‘Bounty-Gate,’ and the real MLB season opener still a week away, I woke up to the news that Magic Johnson had done the impossible – he had the winning bid to purchase the troubled Los Angeles Dodgers franchise. And by forking over $2.15 billion dollars, he’s put the value of a premier baseball franchise on par with every team in the NFL. And by doing so, ultimately fans in all sports may suffer because of it.
I can tell you that every single owner in professional sports is jumping for joy this morning. That’s because in the wee hours since the news broke, that Magic Johnson and his magical band of financial brothers outbid St. Louis Rams Owner, Stan Kroenke for the LA Dodgers, the Billionaires’ Boys club just got richer.
Initially this only affects one of those members. I’m speaking of the man, who almost sunk Dodgers baseball into the Pacific Ocean, Frank McCourt. With this deal, he comes out smelling like a rose. And his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt, can count on cashing in her divorce settlement in the tune of $131 million plus interest. Not a bad haul for a woman who likely married the wrong man for the wrong reasons.
But Mr. McCourt wins too. He gets his bankrupt franchise out of debt plus ownership in the surrounding property better known as Chavez Revine.
And of course, Major League Baseball wins as well. They finally get to kick McCourt out of the club for his embarrassing antics that led to the near demise of one of the most storied baseball franchises in the history of the game – that some referred to as the modern day – Black Sox scandal.
That aside, what Johnson’s group did on Wednesday was bail out McCourt and give the fans of Los Angeles a real owner by constructing a deal that becomes the most anyone group has ever paid for professional sports franchise in North American. In fact, it smashingly surpasses anything that’s happened in baseball to date and nearly doubles what’s ever existed in the NFL. The largest sale in the NFL was the $1.1 Billion that, Stephen Ross paid to Wayne Huizenga, to purchase the struggling, Miami Dolphins.
But that pissing contest is a moot point.
If baseball owners approve this deal, you can expect a plethora of other franchises, in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, to start popping up for sale.
And thanks to the mega billions Johnson and Company have invested in the Dodgers, this sale will kick start a mini revolution by other billionaires to think about investing in professional sports franchises.. And with this sale, Forbes will be forced to reevaluate the price of every MLB and NFL franchise. The price of poker has just gone up.
When Jim Crane purchased the Houston Astros for $610 million many felt that he overpaid for the soon to be American League Franchise. Now that price seems like a bargain. And if I were him, I’d open the bidding again because he could probably fetch $1 billion from Marc Cuban, who bailed out in his attempt to buy the Dodgers, when he refused to go over that high water mark. Now he’s left picking up the pieces and finding another team to get into the baseballs winners circle.
So what’s my point?
When the NFL owners, who were meeting in Florida on Wednesday to vote on such things as regular season overtime rules and player safety, had to be calling their accountants to find out the increased worth of their own franchises after the Dodgers deal was announced.
Because the fact any group would pay $2 billion plus for a professional franchise simply is crazy, stupid and goes to show that sports is ultimately the safest investment that can be made anywhere in this country. Or maybe it’s the dumbest.
So what does this mean for the fans?
With hundreds of millions of Americans struggling to pay their mortgages, feed their families and put their kids through college, Johnson’s group threw caution to the wind, by offering up a plethora of cash and throwing caution to the wind.
And that means owners in Major League Baseball and the National Football League are pitching their pride this morning of civic responsibility, city loyalty, finding loopholes in their stadium leases and promises never to uproot their respective franchises for the greens of cash, greed and ultimately betrayal.
It might not be today, tomorrow or a month from now before we start getting wind of owners in these respected leagues quietly putting their franchises up for sale to the highest bidder. But mark these words, it will happen much sooner than later.
In fact, don’t be shocked if struggling franchises in the NHL like Phoenix and the New York Islanders get a few more interested parties in buying and moving them to bigger indoor cathedrals in the United States and Canada.
On the NBA scene, teams in New Orleans, Charlotte and Sacramento are primed to be plucked and moved to markets promising free rent, sellouts and tax concessions that will raise the bar on greed to a new level.
So if you’re a fan and you have skin in the game in whatever sport that fancies your heart in the city you reside, you best find a local college or university to root for because you’re about to see ‘For Sale’ signs pop up. Because all you need to worry about is changing conference affiliations and not seeing you’re beloved Universities popping up in another state.
I’m sure it wasn’t Johnson’s intent to change the face of every sports franchise known to man. But he did. And when this fallout reaches your team, ultimately he’ll get all the blame.
And sadly, he could care less, because the richest of billionaires, who hold Ownership in your favorite franchise, just got even richer and that’s not good news for anyone outside of Los Angeles today.
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