The rumors about how Stan Kasten would follow his tenure as Nationals team president became public today when NBA legend and entrepreneur Magic Johnson announced he will join Kasten and wealthy investment banker Mark Walter in an effort to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kasten became the Nationals team president in 2006, helping to guide the Lerner family into ownership of the team and, over the next five years, involving himself at every level of the franchise. Kasten stepped down in the fall of 2010, leaving a vacancy the Nationals have given no indications they intend to fill. Rather, they have given General Manager Mike Rizzo more autonomy in baseball operations and allowed COO Andy Feffer to handle the business and marketing side of the franchise.
Kasten has bided his time since stepping down, carefully guarding his next move. It became something of an open secret in the sport that Kasten would bid to buy the Dodgers, a big-market franchise with a rich history currently in tatters after the troubled divorce of Frank McCourt caused it to file for bankruptcy this summer. The beating of a Giants fan in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot also cast a pall over the Dodgers.
In 2011, he sold his small ownership stake in the Nationals, formally allowing himself to pursue other opportunities.
Kasten’s group – called Guggenheim Baseball Management – represents a virtually perfect triumvirate for a group trying to purchase one of baseball’s most storied franchises: a hugely popular public face in Johnson, an experienced and savvy baseball executive with close ties to the commissioner in Kasten and a businessman with gobs and gobs of money in Walter.
The cost to buy the Dodgers could reach as high as $1 billion, but an individual close to Kasten said he is confident the astronomical asking price will not be an issue for the group. Walter is the CEO of Guggenheim Capital, a financial services giant.