WILMINGTON, DEL. (AP) - A bankruptcy court judge in Delaware agreed Friday to the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ plan to sell the team for $2 billion, setting the team up to exit bankruptcy.
The decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross came at the conclusion of a two-part morning and evening hearing he called a “doubleheader.”
The judge approved Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s plan to sell the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management, a group that includes former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson. Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner, and the team would be run by former Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten.
Both Kasten and McCourt were in court Friday. The sale is set to close by April 30, the day McCourt is to make a $131 million payment to former wife Jamie as part of their divorce.
The Dodgers entered bankruptcy in June 2011 during a bitter dispute with Major League Baseball. At the time, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve a new TV deal with Fox Sports that the team was counting on in order to make payroll and keep the franchise solvent.
After the bankruptcy filing, Selig’s attorneys successfully fought to force the Dodgers to accept bankruptcy financing from Major League Baseball. The team and league reached an agreement last year authorizing the team’s sale and a process to market the media rights to games starting in 2014.
Friday’s hearing helped resolve a number of lingering issues ahead of the team’s sale. Fox, the team’s current broadcaster, had wanted written assurance that competitor Time Warner Cable was not contributing funds being used for the purchase. Lawyers for the Dodgers agreed to do that.
Friday’s hearing dragged into the evening, however, as lawyers for the Dodgers and Major League Baseball sparred over the information being given to the league about the plan. A lawyer for Major League Baseball said the league has issues with the plan and is owed more information. A Dodgers lawyer said the team has met all the criteria to have the plan confirmed, and the judge agreed.
The judge called the prospective new owners an “outstanding group.”