Price is second-highest paid for a baseball team

The $430 million sale of the Dodgers from News Corp. to Boston real estate developer Frank McCourt was unanimously approved Thursday by baseball owners.

“Welcome to a new era of Dodger baseball,” McCourt said during a news conference at Dodger Stadium. “I intend to restore the glory days of Dodger baseball with a team worthy of support from our fans.”

The price is the second-highest for a baseball team, trailing only the $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox two years ago. The highly leveraged purchase, likely to be finalized within a week, probably will set off the third change in management in six years for the marquee franchise, which hasn’t advanced to the playoffs since 1996.

News Corp. bought the team in March 1998 from the O’Malley family for $311 million. The corporation quickly tired of running the club, and former movie executive Robert Daly took over as chief executive officer in October 1999 after purchasing a minority stake. Daly has said he will depart when the sale closes.

Deal marks second recent exit from the Southern California pro sports scene for a major conglom. Disney bought the Anaheim Angels from the Gene Autry estate in 1996 for $140 million and turned the perennial also-rans into World Series champs. But Mouse House opted out of the deal last year, selling to Arturo Moreno for about $180 million.

McCourt, whose grandfather was part owner of the Boston Braves, announced Oct. 10 he had agreed to buy the team along with Dodger Stadium and adjoining real estate, plus training facilities in Vero Beach, Fla., and the Dominican Republic. He had lengthy talks with officials of the commissioner’s office and other owners, who were concerned about the amount of debt in the deal. News Corp. will retain a minority stake.

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