The executives who oversee KTLA television and KABC radio, the flagship stations for the broadcast of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, appeared as blindsided as was everyone else by the news on Monday that club president Peter O’Malley had put the team (which also owns Dodger Stadium) up for sale.
John Reardon, VP/G.M. at KTLA, said, “I don’t think anyone saw this coming. And I can’t imagine it’s something that anyone wants to see. The Dodgers are wonderful people, a classy organization. From an outsider’s perspective, they seem like a true family in the way they treat their people, their employees.”
KTLA has five years remaining on its contract to broadcast Dodger games in the Los Angeles market, and Reardon said that any sale would have little if any effect on that pact.
“A sale would affect us only in the sense that the Dodger people are such a pleasure to deal with, and you hate to see anything potentially impact that,” Reardon said. “But I guess that’s the way it goes.”
Maureen Lesourd, prexy and G.M. at both KABC radio and its two ABC/Disney-owned sister stations KLOS and KMPC, admitted she was surprised by Monday’s announcement.
“This team has been in the O’Malley family forever,” Lesourd said. (Actually, it’s 47 years.) “This family has been with the Dodgers when they were back in Brooklyn. They have run it as such a class organization, and I’m sure there will be a lot of interested buyers who would jump at the opportunity to buy this kind of franchise.”
Lesourd added that KABC’s Dodger contract is due to expire following the coming 1997 baseball season. Having the team for sale makes her a little nervous.
“You’d like to know who owns the team,” she said.
A guessing game assessing the interest of potential suitors surfaced almost immediately after the news broke on Monday, with such entertainment giants as Disney, Time Warner and News Corp. prominent in the wild specula-tion.
The early projections on Monday estimated the team’s worth — in combination with Dodger Stadium, a spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla., and a camp in the Dominican Republic, all owned by the ballclub — at up-wards of $200 million. That would be the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise in the U.S.
Said one local TV executive on Monday: “I just hope whoever buys the Dodgers keeps them in Los Angeles. Damn, wouldn’t that be ironic to lose them? Then we’d all know what it had to feel like to live in Brooklyn in the late ’50s.”