Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A group led by Magic Johnson bought the money-losing Sparks of the Women’s National Basketball Association, ensuring the franchise’s future in Los Angeles.
WNBA President Laurel Ritchie in a telephone interview declined to disclose specifics of the transaction, which she said came together “in record time.”
The Sparks, one of the league’s original eight franchises, had been in limbo since former owner Paula Madison in December told employees that her company could no longer operate the club that she bought from the Buss family -- owner of the Lakers -- in 2007.
“The leaders of this great city came together quickly to keep this franchise where it belongs -- in the city of Angels,” Johnson said in a statement.
Besides Johnson, who led the “Showtime” Lakers to five National Basketball Association titles, the ownerships group is comprised of the same people who bought baseball’s Dodgers, including Guggenheim Partners executives Mark Walter and Todd Boehly. Dodgers investor Peter Guber, a part owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, isn’t part of the Sparks ownership group, Ritchie said.
“Magic is synonymous with L.A. basketball,” she said. “This group is very committed to the city of Los Angeles. It’s very clear that they are passionate about sports and understand the role it can play in a community.”
Ritchie said there were “a couple of very viable options” for the Sparks, which had been operating under league control.
The Johnson-led group bought the Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion in a bankruptcy auction from Frank McCourt.
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