Real Estate developers are not new as owners of Los Angeles sports franchises. Both local NBA teams were purchased by men who made their fortunes in developing property. And, while Frank McCourt may not had actually ever developed anything, real estate was his vehicle to at least prop up his net value.
Ironically, one of the things that never came to pass with McCourt ownership was the development of property around Dodger Stadium, even though many thought that was one a key reason why McCourt wanted to buy the club back in 2004.
In a few weeks, we should learn who the serious players are in this game of Who Will Be the Next Owner of the Dodgers. I am fairly sure that the one of them will be a group headlined by former Dodger manager Joe Torre and shopping mall developer Rick Caruso.
Both Torre and Caruso have name recognition in Los Angeles. Torre, who would be in line as perhaps Dodger president, does bring many years of experience and while his managing skills were often debated, he is certainly both well liked and respected by baseball and media people both throughout the country and here in Los Angeles.
Rick Caruso was born and raised in Los Angeles, earned his bachelors at USC and his law degree from Pepperdine. His company's signature property is The Grove and Caruso's net worth has been estimated from 800M to 1.2 Billion. It is probably safe to say that most of that is tied into his company and real property holdings and not easily converted into liquid capital.
Bill Shaikin reported that Torre and Caruso would be working with investment banker Byron Trott. Trott's presence certainly confirms that if Torre and Caruso are involved, the deal will either be heavily financed or that multiple partners will be included.
The fact that the next buyer will have to borrow money to buy the Dodgers should not be surprising or even unexpected. Few people have hundreds of millions available in cash and one could even argue that with interest rates so low, if you can get the financing, why not borrow the money.
The next owner will have to be able to show both MLB and Dodger fans that they have money available to both improve the team on the field, player development for the system and the fan's experience at Dodger Stadium. Of course, all Frank McCourt will want to know is will that owner be able to pay him the amount he wants for the team.
The next few months will be interesting to see how it plays out.