NEW YORK — A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.
The price would shatter the mark for a North American sports franchise, topping the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2009.
Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner.
The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.
As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and "certain affiliates of the purchasers" would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.
The acquiring group, called Guggenheim Baseball Management, has several other investors, among them Mandalay Entertainment chief executive Peter Guber. Kasten is the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and 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 in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.
The 52-year-old Johnson played 13 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers.
He retired from the NBA in 1991 after being diagnosed with the HIV, the virus that causes AIDs. He briefly came out of retirement in 1995-96 and did a short stint coaching the Lakers. Since leaving basketball behind he has been hugely successful in business, investing in movie theaters, a production company and restaurants.
McCourt paid $430 million in 2004 to buy the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that include the parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., a sale that left the team with about $50 million in cash at the time. The team's debt stood at $579 million as of January, according to a court filing, so McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars even after a $131 million divorce payment to former wife Jamie, taxes and legal and banking fees.
The other two finalists were:
- Stan Kroenke, whose family properties own the NFL's St. Louis Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids, and who is majority shareholder of Arsenal in the English Premier League.
- Steven Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and a new limited partner of the New York Mets; biotechnology entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong; and agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group.