Mark R. Walter
Mark Walter is the Chief Executive Officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners. On March 27, 2012, it was announced that a group led by his firm, but also including former NBA star Magic Johnson and veteran executive Stan Kasten had made the winning bid to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers from bankrupt owner Frank McCourt. The bid was $2 billion for the team, with an additional $150 million for land around Dodger Stadium, the highest price ever paid for a North American sports franchise.
Because the purchase was done through a court-supervised bankruptcy process, there was concern that Major League Baseball would not play its traditional rule of settling any eventual disputes arising from the sale, as has historically been its prerogative. In addition, some of the financial clauses of the agreement, regarding the sharing of some of the cable TV revenues and revenues from lands around the ballpark, were kept secrets, raising concern that they may turn out to be inimical to MLB's interests, and setting a dangerous precedent for future franchise sales.
In spite of these concerns, the sale was finalized as expected on May 1st. The new ownership group was called Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, and named Walter its Chief Executive Officer, with Kasten assuming the duties of team President. The group proved that it had seemingly bottomless pockets when on August 25th, it pulled a nine-player blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox that added $260 million in salary obligations in one fell swoop, due to the acquisition of 1B Adrian Gonzalez, P Josh Beckett and OF Carl Crawford. The heavy spending cointinued the following off-season, with a number of costly free agent signings, icluding those of Ps Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
All that spending seemed a mere pittance, however, when the terms of the team's new television deal started to come out: on January 28, 2013, Walter and Kasten announced the creation of a team-owned regional sports network on Time Warner Cable to be called "SportsNet LA". As Walter explained in a news release: "We concluded last year that the best way to give our fans what they want — more content and more Dodger baseball — was to launch our own network". Its main source of programming would be the team's games, whose broadcast rights for the next 25 years were about to be sold to Time Warner for the staggering sum of $7 billion. That amount was so great, and so far above any other team's broadcast revenues, that it threatened to overthrow MLB's entire revenue sharing scheme. The value of the Dodgers' broadcast rights had been set at $84 million annually by MLB, but the new deal would net the $280 million per year - two-thirds of which would fall outside the revenue-sharing criteria. The dispute had the potential of ending up in court, given its very high stakes.
One of the first successes of the new group was to see the Dodgers erach the 2017 World Series, its first appearance in the Fall Classic since its 1988 title. While the Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros in seven games, the season was considered highly successful,
In September 2018, another great name from the sporting world joined the ownership group as former tennis great Billie Jean King became a minority owner.
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