We have another potential new name in the Dodger bidding war and an update on another, and holy good lord, could these two guys not possibly be more different. First, Bill Shaikin in the Times brings us the news that developer Alan Casden is throwing his hat in the ring. Sound familiar? It should – he tried unsuccessfully to purchase the team from FOX in 2003.
Casden’s name has been submitted to MLB for consideration, according to a person familiar with the process. Casden, whose net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion by Forbes, has not returned calls from The Times.
In 2003, Casden proposed buying the Dodgers, moving them to a new downtown ballpark and tearing down Dodger Stadium to build housing on the site.
“They knock down stadiums all the time,” Casden told The Times then. “Dodger Stadium is not an antique. It’s not Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a nice place to play baseball, but there are far better.”
Casden offered about $450 million to buy the Dodgers from Fox — more than McCourt paid — but the bid stalled amid MLB concerns over an investigation into illegal campaign contributions to city politicians.
Oh, that’s just lovely. You can put him down with Time Warner and Stephen Cohen at the head of the “DO NOT WANT” list.
At the absolute opposite end of the spectrum, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne brings us an outstanding look at mystery man Josh Macciello. The entire article is fantastic and well worth a click, but here’s the main attraction:
“No, I always have to prove it,” he said, when I asked if people believe him when he says he’s a billionaire. “They ask for confirmation and we give them the claims showing that we own [the mines] and the actual assay and geologists reports that support that claim that’s been going on since 1999.” Then he corrects me on something.
“It’s not like Josh Macciello has billions in his bank account,” he said. “I am chairman and CEO of a company that’s partnered up with another company, and through those two companies we acquired several gold mines that are worth billions of dollars.
“Had it been five years ago we wouldn’t have been as fortunate, but due to the economy and where gold prices are now and where they’re projected to be in the next five years, we’re very blessed to be in the position we’re in, to be able to say we have billions of dollars of assets.”
Macciello says he intends to use those gold mines as collateral to finance his bid for the Dodgers.
I find Macciello fascinating, and I’ve at least begun to believe his intentions are real. (Even though, as a web snob, his new website joshfordodgers.com infuriates me because it’s all one background image.) Shelburne delves into a guy with an interesting past who really appears to be doing this for the love of the team, not as an investment, and that’s not something many of the rest of these guys can say. If by some miracle he got the team, you’d have to think that his policies would be incredibly fan-friendly and beyond entertaining in every way. I have to be honest, there’s a not insignificant part of me that’s really pulling for him.
Except.. well, look at that quote above. You could really replace “Macciello” and “gold mines” with “McCourt” and “parking lots”, couldn’t you? We had a discussion in the comments earlier this week that no one was going to simply write a check for $1.5 billion, and that’s absolutely true; no matter what, there’s going to be some amount of debt and loans involved in this. To a certain extent, that’s fine; to do it nearly entirely on that, well, we’ve seen that movie before. It didn’t end well.
Speaking of completely unlikely scenarios hinging on ownership… Prince Fielder. As long as he’s unsigned, people are going to speculate that he’ll end up with the Dodgers somehow, and that’s understandable. The thing people need to understand, however – and I point this out because I’ve been asked about it more than once – is that if Fielder somehow lands in Los Angeles, it’s not going to be because of a new owner. It’s going to be because of Frank McCourt. Spring training starts in about five weeks, and McCourt isn’t obligated to choose a winning bidder for about six weeks beyond that, and then it’ll take at least a month for the transfer of power. While it may be the new owner who would be paying the overwhelming majority of Fielder’s contract, there’s just no way that they’ll be in power soon enough to make it happen. (I was asked on Twitter by Jerrold [@JFK03] about the parallel of incoming Giants owner signing Barry Bonds in 1992, which is a good comparison, except Bonds signed on December 8 that winter. This process is just too far behind in the offseason.)
I bring this up because two prominent writers have brought up two complete opposing viewpoints on whether McCourt should bother signing Fielder before he’s gone. (When asked about it today, McCourt refused to comment.)
Buster Olney, ESPN:
If McCourt signed Fielder now, the expenditure wouldn’t be beyond the means of the franchise. And while a $25 million annual salary for a first baseman might seem like a lot of money to the average person, remember who is bidding for the team. A $25 million annual expenditure to someone with access to $100 billion is equivalent to five ATM charges for someone making $50,000.
You could call the signing of Fielder a financial pimple, in the big picture, if not for the fact that it could actually make the Dodgers more attractive, more valuable.
The Dodgers might be able to get Fielder for seven years and $175 million, or maybe eight for $192 million. Add Fielder to their lineup, and they could contend for the NL West championship in 2012. They would sell more tickets, draw higher ratings and give the next owners a little more leverage in negotiating that next television contract. Fielder would be to the Dodgers what Shaquille O’Neal was to the Lakers.
McCourt probably flinches reflexively at the idea of spending money these days given the amount of debt he has and considering how many lawsuits he’s been involved in. But signing Fielder now would be a smart investment, some gasoline to throw onto what should already be an extremely hot bidding war for the Dodgers.
It’s a great opportunity. McCourt should jump on it. Right now.
Shaikin, LA Times:
If the Dodgers signed Fielder for, say, $150 million, that would add $150 million to the liabilities a new owner would assume. That could persuade a prospective buyer to lower his bid accordingly.
As you can imagine, I tend to agree with Shaikin on this. While Olney’s points are valid, we’ve been talking a lot this week about just how much money the Dodgers are expected to go for – by all indications, it’ll be record-shattering. I find it hard to believe that a franchise which might already come close to doubling the previous MLB sale record would get an even further boost by adding Fielder; as Shaikin suggests, it might actually lower the price. Besides, if you’re willing to toss more than a billion dollars into purchasing a baseball team, you almost by definition have a large ego. I’m thinking that a new owner would prefer to be the one seen as rescuing the team and bringing in big stars, not inheriting someone that McCourt brought in.