As the primary architect of the Atlanta Braves’ dynasty in the 1980s and ’90s, Kasten noted the Dodgers’ fast start in stressing that the goal is to “win now — we’re not going to wait two years.”
In the tall, reserved Walter, Johnson can see parallels in ownership style with the Lakers’ Jerry Buss. Buss left it to general manager Jerry West and successor Mitch Kupchak to make the moves that kept that franchise at the top of the heap.
“Mark’s like Dr. Buss,” Magic said. “He’ll put money into the team and stay out of the way. He wants to win.”
Johnson, a big baseball fan growing up in Michigan, called it “one of the happiest days of my life.”
He said he was flattered that Walter and Kasten wanted him to join Guggenheim Baseball Management — along with Mandalay Entertainment chairman Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Texas energy investor Bobby Patton — when they were putting together their winning bid to Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully — one of the few individuals holding a place in the region’s hearts close to Johnson’s — mastered the ceremonies, concluding that this would be the last ownership exchange that would have his involvement.
There will be an unspecified amount of room available in the budget to pursue established talent in trades and free agency while fortifying the farm system, Kasten said.
“We’re not going to gouge the fans just because we paid a nice sum for this franchise,” Johnson said, disclosing that general parking would come down from $15 to $10. “We don’t want the fans to think because we wrote a big check [$2 billion], we’re going to stop writing checks for talent. We don’t want people to think we’re short on money now. That’s not the case.”
The sale of the team, the stadium and land surrounding it became official on Tuesday as the group closed its $2 billion purchase, ending the McCourts’ stormy eight-year ownership..
Guggenheim paid an additional $150 million for a 50-percent interest in the property surrounding Chavez Ravine and the stadium parking lots, in a joint venture with McCourt.
The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004 from News Corp. for a net purchase price of $371 million.