Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Updated: November 3, 5:38 PM ET
Interest in bidding on Dodgers grows
By Ramona Shelburne
An investment group led by former Dodger greats Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser is preparing a proposal to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in a bankruptcy court auction.
Former owner Peter O'Malley told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday he would also like to bid on the team.
O'Malley told the newspaper he hopes to lead an investment group focused on purchasing the Dodgers and return as the team's chief executive.
To speed the process along, bidders in the auction will need to be pre-approved by Major League Baseball.
"What we know today is that Major League Baseball will do a series of pre-approvals. We look forward to that process," Garvey said on 710 ESPNLA's "Mason and Ireland" show Wednesday afternoon.
"As they say, the game's on and we're ready."
Garvey said he's been working to assemble this investment group for over two years. At one point he tried to buy the team directly from embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, but was rebuffed and was later fired from his position with the club following a series of public comments he made about the team and McCourt.
Hershiser joined the investment group this spring. ESPNLosAngeles.com reported in July that a number of other Dodger greats are also involved with the group, but have remained silent so far, because of their association with the team.
McCourt and MLB issued a joint statement Tuesday night to annouce he would sell the team.
O'Malley has been vocal in his disapproval of McCourt. He urged McCourt to sell the team last fall.
"I want to reconnect the team and the community," O'Malley said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I am confident I can restore it to respectability quicker, sooner and probably better than -- or at least as well as -- anyone else."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also expressed interest.
"It all comes down to price," Cuban wrote Wednesday morning in an email to ESPNLosAngeles.com. "It's important to have more than enough money to pay players and invest in the organization."
Former general manager Fred Claire is aligned with former Oakland Athletics president Andy Dolich and former Dodgers batboy Ben Hwang, who brought in the financial backers. Claire, the Dodgers' GM from 1987-98, assumes the price will be $800 million to $1 billion and up.
"I've been working on this venture since early July," Claire said. "My motivation is to see the Dodgers be what they need to be in the community."
Former agent Dennis Gilbert, a friend of Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, hopes to put together a group.
In addition, billionaire Donald Trump told Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren that he "might" be interested in purchasing the team.
Garvey and Hershiser would be the frontmen for their ownership group. Hershiser is a baseball analyst for ESPN. Garvey declined to name the other investors in the project.
When asked if one of them was billionaire supermarket magnate, Ron Burkle, Garvey said: "We've talked to a number of individuals. We've always thought that quality of individual is just as important as the money invested.
"We met with Ron, I like Ron. He is a quality individual. I can't go any farther than that right now. Our investors will be vetted through the pre-approval process with MLB and their right to privacy we have to acknowledge at this point."
Garvey said his group needed to examine the Dodgers current financial situation before submitting an offer for the team.
"We feel we're capitalized to be in the game. We don't know what the final number will be," he said. "We have to be able to look at the books, look at future potential revenues and make a sound business decision. With that said, this is a baseball deal for us.
"You're only new once. So for now, we have to be funded and capitalized to purchase the team ... and then to be able to do what we think is very important, which is to go out and immediately get players to make this a world championship contending team."
Garvey also reiterated his pledge to immediately invest in upgrading and modernizing Dodger Stadium. He said Wednesday that investment would likely be between $75-100 million.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.