Last month, there were reports that Los Angeles Dodgers co-owners Mark Walter and Todd Boehly were set to buy a 27% stake in the Lakers from Philip Anschutz, the 224th-richest person in the world and billionaire head of AEG, the company that owns and operates Staples Center.
On Friday, that sale was finished, according to Randall Williams of Sportico (the outlet that has broken basically every story on this topic):
Walter and Boehly, co-owners of the L.A. Dodgers, closed on the purchase of the stake from billionaire Philip Anschutz on Friday. The sale of the minority stake, which values the Lakers at roughly $5 billion, was first reported by Sportico last month, and the NBA board of governors unanimously approved the deal.
As part of the deal, Boehly will join the Lakers’ board of directors to represent his and Walter’s interests. The Lakers are controlled by Jeanie Buss, whose late father Jerry bought the team in 1979. The stake includes the right of first refusal on any other Lakers shares that may come to market, putting Walter and Boehly in position to control the team should the Buss family ever decide to sell.
That last part is the most significant part of this deal, by far. While there have been no signs that the Buss family would like to sell — a sale that all the Buss siblings would have to agree to, as their 66% ownership of the team is in a trust that cannot be split into pieces — if they choose to at this point, Boehly and Walter would have the first crack at buying the Lakers. Given how free-spending they’ve been to try and help the Dodgers win, that’s a good thing.
Although, given the Lakers’ value and how many extremely rich people would line up to buy them if they did go up for sale, it’s also hard to believe they’d get purchased by someone who wasn’t going to spend to win regardless. Still, having a couple of guys who have already proven they will in the fold is good news for fans of the small business.
For now, Anschutz’s involvement with the team isn’t over. The Lakers just extended their lease at Staples Center through 2041, so while AEG won’t own part of the organization, their decades-long business relationship will continue. In brief, this sale doesn’t mean a whole lot unless the Buss trust decides to sell, but in the short-term, more ties between Los Angeles’ two favorite sports teams can’t be a bad thing.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.