By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES Feb 9 The second round of
bids for the highly sought after Los Angeles Dodgers baseball
team is due around Feb. 23, according to several people familiar
with the process.
The Dodgers are expected to fetch more than $1.5 billion, a
record for a baseball team, and have attracted an impressive
lineup of sporting and financial moguls, ranging from Magic
Johnson to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen. Terms of a
settlement between Major League Baseball and team owner Frank
McCourt stated that McCourt must sell the team by April 30.
Some of the suitors are likely to team up for what is
expected to be steep bidding, according to people familiar with
The team declined comment.
On Jan. 27 the Dodgers said a preliminary round of bidding
had been completed and bidders had been notified of the results.
Between 15 to 20 parties submitted non-binding preliminary
bids, and some well-known bidders like former sports agent
Dennis Gilbert and former Dodgers stars Steve Garvey and Orel
Hershiser were cut from the process on Jan. 27.
MLB can approve up to a maximum of 10 bidders who will be
allowed to move forward in the process, sources said. Blackstone
Group and McCourt will make the final determination in
the sale. The list seems to change on a daily basis, with
several bidders adding backers with deep pockets to their
The latest name to pop up as a bidder is Jared Kushner,
son-in-law of Donald Trump and son of New York real estate
powerhouse Charles Kushner. A spokesman for Kushner declined to
comment, although a person familiar with the matter confirmed
Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso and Dodgers ex-manager Joe
Torre head one group; Stanley Gold and the family of the late
Roy Disney head another.
SAC Capital Advisors chief Steven Cohen, St. Louis Rams
owner Stan Kroenke, former Lakers legend Magic Johnson, former
Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and New York media executive Leo
Hindery are all still in the game.
These bidders either declined comment or were unavailable.
Sources have said these suitors were required to convince
Blackstone Group, the bank conducting the sale, that they had
the finances to participate in the bidding.
The second-round bidders are reviewing more in-depth
financial data, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Hedge fund mogul Cohen is also considering taking a small
stake in another team -- his hometown New York Mets, people
familiar with the matter said.
The billionaire trader, known for his knack in delivering
strong and steady returns at his $14 billion SAC Capital
Advisors, first flirted with the Mets early last year when the
team tried to sell a one-third stake for $200 million to satisfy
the team owners' debts.
People familiar with his thinking said that buying this stake
would not take him out of the running to try to win the Dodgers.
But if he were to succeed, Major League Baseball would require
him to sell his stake in the Mets.
The Dodgers landed on the auction block after owner Frank
McCourt was forced to place the team under bankruptcy protection
News Corp's Fox Group, the current broadcast partner
of the Dodgers, has also received a nondisclosure agreement from
bankers involved in the sale and has been talking with bidders
about potentially buying a minority stake to help secure TV
rights beyond 2013.
Fox owned the Dodgers from 1998 to 2004, but a spokesman said
the company has no desire to own the team.
The sale being conducted by Blackstone is overseen by the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. McCourt bought
the team in 2004 for $430 million, primarily financed with debt.