Stanley H. Kasten
Stan Kasten is an executive who has been associated with three National League teams: the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has also been an executive in the National Basketball Association, with the Atlanta Hawks, and the National Hockey League with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Kasten is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University's law school. He got his start in sports when he met Braves owner Ted Turner in 1976. Turner hired him to be a counsel for Turner Sports, his broadcasting firm. He climbed the corporate ladder quickly, becoming General Manager of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks at age 27 in 1979. He held the position until 1990, receiving the additional title of team President in 1986; his period at the helm coincided with the team's greatest era, led by the great Dominique Wilkins.
Kasten became team President of the Atlanta Braves in 1986 and was one of the key figures in engineering their remarkable turnaround after a horrendous stretch in the late 1980s. He gave GM John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox full authority for baseball decisions while he concentrated on business operations. The sad-sack team began a 14-year playoff run in 1991, becoming extremely profitable during the period. In 1999, he was the team President of the NHL's Thrashers when the league awarded an expansion franchise to Atlanta, GA. He stepped down from both positions in 2003.
In 2006, Kasten became the President of the Washington Nationals, under owner Ted Lerner, one year after their relocation from Montreal, QC. He oversaw the construction of Nationals Park and the team's move to the new facility, before leaving in 2010.
In 2011, he joined one of the numerous groups bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from bankrupt owner Frank McCourt. The "Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC" was fronted by former NBA star Magic Johnson, whom Kasten had known for years, and Mark Walter leading a group of investors with very deep pockets; he was the main baseball figure in the group, reassuring Major League Baseball that there was someone among them who knew the ins and outs of running a major league team. The group bid a record $2 billion for the team - the highest amount ever paid for a North American sports franchise - to win the high-stakes auction. Kasten was named team President and Chief Executive Officer. He indicated that one of his first priorities would be to reestablish the Dodgers' scouting network in Latin America, which had once been the best in the game, but had been allowed to fall into disrepair in recent years.
Another immediate objective was to increase the Dodgers' revenues from their broadcast rights over the vast and lucrative territory of southern California. Previous owner McCourt had already tried to sell these broadcast rights on the cheap in order to get himself out of financial straits, but had been prevented by MLB from doing so, as it would have proven detrimental to the future of the franchise for the sake of short-term gain. The new ownership group could look at the matter more serenely, and in effect set up a bidding war between Fox Sports and Time Warner, two rival broadcasting giants, which shot the price of those rights into the stratosphere. On January 28, 2013, Walter and Kasten announced that they were creating the "SportsNet LA" regional sports network on Time Warner Cable, as a prelude to the parent company paying the staggering sum of $7 billion to secure the Dodgers' broadcast rights over the next 25 years. In the press release announcing the creation of the network, Kasten stated:
"The launch of the new regional sports network is a historic development for the Dodgers and our passionate fans. Our commitment from day one has been to build the Dodgers into the best team possible, both on and off the field. Our fans deserve the best - the best players, the best baseball, and the best experience - whether that's at the newly renovated Dodger Stadium or on television."
In July of 2021, he drew a rare public rebuke from Commissioner Rob Manfred after a press conference in which he trivialized the issue of domestic violence allegations against Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer. The Commissioner replied that MLB took such allegations extremely seriously and that Kasten's casual attitude went against the sport's values and what MLB was trying to achieve.