By Debbie Emery – Radar Reporter
Los Angeles Dodgers fans breathed a joint sigh of relief when it was announced on Tuesday night that a group led by NBA legend Magic Johnson is buying the down-on-their-luck franchise for a whopping $2 billion.
“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodgers franchise,” Los Angeles Lakers legend Johnson said in the statement, adding that the new owners “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.”
It is hoped that the influx of new income and energy from the group, which includes baseball executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber, will cure three years of turmoil and losing records for the team, who has not won the World Series since 1980.
The record-breaking sale will be confirmed in a court hearing on April 13 and the legal transaction is set to close by April 30, the same day McCourt must pay his ex-wife Jamie $131 million in a divorce settlement. If the deal closes as expected, the Dodgers would be owned by an entity called Guggenheim Baseball Partners.
The high ticket price blows away big team sales previously topped by Stephen Ross, who paid $1.1 billion for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009, and in Malcolm Glazer’s purchase of England’s Manchester United soccer club in 2005 for $1.47 billion.
Hollywood stars and the sports world’s top athletes took to Twitter on Wednesday to celebrate the good news for the LA-based team.
“I’m so happy for my friends @MagicJohnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten and the rest of the group who are the new owners of the Dodgers. Great!” tweeted Larry King.
George Lopez also shared his support, writing: “Congrats to @MagicJohnson winner of the bid to buy the Los Angeles dodgers!!!”
While shamed baseball player Jose Canseco even offered his talents on the field to the new owners, for free! “@magicjohnson congrats on buying dodgers need a 1b or pinch hitter of the bench? Will play for free. Will donate salary charity.”
Rihanna’s ex-boyfriend Matt Kemp had an extra big reason to celebrate, as he plays for the beleagued team. “Good day 4 the @dodgers! The great @magicjohnson is the new owner!! Let’s start a dynasty baby!!”
“Do you believe in Magic?” asked former Charmed star and sports fanatic Alyssa Milano.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant who leads the team that Johnson won five championships with, joked that he wished that Magic had invited him to be a business partner. “I’m upset he didn’t cut me in. I’m going to have to talk to him about that.
“Magic’s got his hands everywhere, I’m happy for him. Obviously, everybody knows how well loved he is in Los Angeles and he’s starting another chapter in his life and another chapter in his post-NBA career of rebuilding the Dodgers’ franchise.
Teammate Pau Gasol was more enthusiastic about the high profile sale, telling the Los Angeles Times: “It’s incredible. He’s a great model to follow as a top athlete that has accomplished so much on the floor,” he gushed.
“I think what he’s been able to do off the floor has been even more impressive, so you really have to take your hat off to him because it’s just remarkable what he’s doing. I think he’s definitely somebody we all should all look up to as far as post-career basketball.”