The Lakers and Dodgers re-located to the City of Angels six decades ago, only two years apart. Their shared ties run deep as they established themselves as model franchises in their respective sports. These days, NBA legend Magic Johnson is a Dodgers part-owner, while the team’s CMO, Lon Rosen, started his career working for the NBA’s Lakers and NHL’s Kings. The franchises are the reigning NBA and MLB world champions, having won titles a mere 16 days apart in October.
On Friday, the relationship went to the next level with news that Philip Anschutz was selling his 27% personal stake in the purple-and-gold, and the buyers are Dodgers co-owners Mark Walter and Todd Boehly. The deal values the Lakers at roughly $5 billion—close to Sportico’s valuation of the Lakers at $5.14 billion in January, third highest in the NBA behind the Knicks ($5.42 billion) and Warriors ($5.21 billion). Jeanie Buss will continue to run the Lakers through her family’s trust, which owns 66% of the team.
The Lakers and Dodgers are two of the eight most valuable sports franchises in North America. Shared ownership could take both clubs to even greater heights off the court and field, as they tackle the shifting climates in broadcasting, venue experience and sponsorships.
“Great teams in a great market is a pretty unbeatable combination,” said media consultant Ed Desser.
The deal is additive to the Lakers in that they are gaining successful sports team owners and entrepreneurs while also continuing their relationship with Anschutz through his AEG sports empire, which owns and operates the Staples Center, home to the Lakers as well as the LA Kings, which are also owned by AEG.
The Lakers extended their lease at the downtown arena last month with AEG. The $375 million venue opened in 1999. “From the very beginning, AEG proved to be more than just the best arena operators in our industry, and on a daily basis they continue demonstrating why they are the best partner an organization could ask for,” Buss said in a statement announcing the lease extension.
The minority stake sale still needs approval from the NBA Board of Governors, but the Lakers should get an accomplished pair of new owners. Boehly and Walters bought the Dodgers out of bankruptcy in 2012 for $2.15 billion and have turned the club into a juggernaut on and off the field. The team’s $250 million payroll this season is $50 million higher than any other club, and they’ve rattled off eight straight division titles and appeared in three of the past four World Series.
“Mark Walters and Todd Boehly have shown that not only are they real savvy sports team operators, but in the case of Todd, entertainment and media as well,” Marc Ganis, president of sports business consulting firm Sportscorp said in an interview. “The Lakers also now have two people who are at the forefront of capitalization in sports and entertainment.”
Boehly is the founder of Greenwich, Connecticut-based investment firm Eldridge Industries and is currently behind four SPACs, including one closing a deal for ticket reseller Vivid Seats. Another Boehly-backed blank check company walked away this month from a deal for sports data provider Sportradar.
Content is king right now in sports, and it is hard to beat the Lakers and Dodgers in basketball and baseball. Both were signed with Time Warner Cable, re-branded as Spectrum after its sale to Charter Communications, and the teams rank among the top two or three annually for local TV viewership nationwide—and they have the blockbuster contracts to show for it. The Dodgers 25-year, $8.35 billion TV deal kicked off in 2013, while the Lakers agreement, signed in 2011, is worth an estimated $4 billion over 20 years.
The teams are locked into those deals, so any kind of combined rights or change in approach is a “long-term proposition,” according to Desser, who consulted for the Lakers for their 2011 blockbuster Time Warner deal and on the Time Warner side for their pact with the Dodgers.
No doubt the ownership groups of these two storied franchises are playing the long game and that means streaming. The Dodgers are a national brand, and the Lakers are one of the NBA’s most popular exports. “These two teams in the second-largest market in the country can be a very powerful combination,” Ganis said.