Photo: annaberthold | Flickr
March 29–PALM BEACH, Fla. — The astronomical sale price of the Dodgers reverberated across the country Wednesday, and across professional sports leagues, with some NFL owners calling it a $2.15-billion reminder of how valuable the Los Angeles market could be.”I think it reflects the value … of being involved in the sports business in L.A.,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, heading for the airport at the conclusion of the league’s annual meetings at the Breakers hotel. “It should serve to encourage teams and owners to come to L.A.”
Steve Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants and part-time L.A. resident, said the sale “is going to draw a lot of attention to L.A. as a super-valuable market for sports teams.”
Added Tisch: “It kind of raises the bar for all of us. When a baseball club sells for over $2 billion when you fold in the real estate, it makes all of us stand up and say, ‘Wow!’ With our brands, with our teams, with our assets, we can’t mess up. We’re involved with something very special with tremendous value, but our commitment is to our fans, to our players and to the teams.”
Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams and one of the three final Dodgers bidders, could not be reached for comment.
Not everyone is sold on the idea that the high sale price for the Dodgers will have an effect on how interested the league is in returning to the nation’s No. 2 market, or the urgency of bringing a team back after being gone 17 years. It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of a franchise sale in baseball and football.
Unlike baseball, for instance, the NFL does not allow corporate ownership of a team. There must be one principal owner of an NFL team who owns at least 30% of the club, and the league imposes a debt limit of $150 million.
What’s more, much of the value in the Dodgers is in the team’s TV rights, which have the potential to be worth as much as $4 billion.
NFL teams negotiate their deals with networks collectively, meaning, for example, the San Francisco 49ers cannot form their own network to broadcast their games. Those national TV deals run through the next decade, and there’s no indication the league plans to change its business model and allow its 32 clubs to strike their own customised TV contracts.
It is not yet known how the sale of the Dodgers will affect the push for an NFL stadium in the L.A. area.
The league has long viewed Chavez Ravine as a prime location for a football venue, and there might be an NFL team playing there now had the city not thrown its weight behind the Coliseum when Peter O’Malley was proposing a stadium on the Dodgers’ site in the late 1990s. (O’Malley, who owned the Dodgers at the time, wanted current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be the general manager of L.A.’s football team.)
Tom LaBonge, a councilman whose area includes Dodger Stadium, said the steep purchase price was likely to put a significant amount of pressure on the new owners to develop the stadium site, adding, “I would have no problem with a football stadium there myself, if it was done appropriately.”
Said Goodell earlier this week: “We’ve often said that that’s an extraordinary stadium site up at Dodger Stadium.”
“Extraordinary” was the precise word former USC coach Pete Carroll used to describe the price the Dodgers commanded in the latest sale to the group that includes Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
“I think it’s an enormous statement about the value of being in L.A. and the tremendous stage that they’re on,” said Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks. “It sets a new mark for franchises in general in big-time sports. I don’t know all of the makings of the group, but just the fact that Magic’s involved is really exciting. Just because what he means to the community and all that.”
As for NFL owners and their reaction to the news, Carroll said: “Oh, man, they’ve got to love that. That’s a new day. That’s a big marker. That’s not just something-point-something. It’s 2 billion.”
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