Born and raised in Southern California in the era of Fernando Valenzuela, Ron Cey and, yes, Steve Garvey, billionaire business mogul Ron Burkle maintains an affinity for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Today’s Dodgers, awash in instability and disgrace, are not those Dodgers.
But the team of a man’s youth remains stubbornly so.
Burkle would appear to have a weakness for the disadvantaged, having donated hundreds of millions of dollars to favored charities and, among other projects, saved the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins from likely extinction.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced last week he was seizing day-to-day control of the Dodgers, which have run aground under Frank McCourt’s seven-year stewardship. Tom Schieffer, the former Texas Rangers president, has been assigned to monitor the team, and eventually could lead the transition to new ownership.
Burkle is believed to be open to the idea of purchasing the Dodgers should they become available. In the fall he met with Garvey, who has been aggressive in his desire to assemble a group that he hopes would lead the Dodgers out of the McCourt era, even as he draws a regular paycheck from McCourt.
Garvey told the Los Angeles Times last week that he had teamed with Burkle, among others, in order to buy the team. Industry insiders said Monday that Garvey’s claims were overstated and premature, that Burkle had not committed to Garvey.
Burkle likely would face stiff competition for a franchise Forbes estimated to be worth $800 million, more than twice what McCourt paid for it. Mark Cuban, Eli Broad, Dennis Gilbert, Alec Gores, Mark Attanasio, Magic Johnson and others have the finances and standing to make strong bids, and many have strong local ties.