The New York investment group handling the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers has begun scheduling tours of Dodger Stadium with prospective ownership groups, multiple sources close to the process, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told ESPNLosAngeles.com.
"It's just to allow investors in the groups to walk the Stadium, get a feel for it, and ask questions," one source said.
However, that opportunity is only being offered to groups that the Blackstone Group considers serious at this point.
One group that may become more serious includes Tony Ressler, co-founder of a Los Angeles investment firm controlling over $40 billion in assets, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing anonymous sources. The ownership group that bought the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 had Ressler as one of their minority investors back then; it is unclear if he still remains an investor.
Also getting involved is longtime chief of Shamrock Holdings Stanley Gold, according to sources cited by the newspaper. Gold and his partner, Roy Disney, were involved in the public push to remove Michael Eisner as CEO of the Walt Disney Co.
The Blackstone Group has distributed preliminary "bid books" over the past few weeks to about a dozen groups and will likely distribute more in advance of the Jan. 23 deadline to submit initial bids for the team, two sources close to the process said.
Those books reveal only preliminary information about the team's financial state and how it will be sold. More detailed financial information will be released to prospective buyers after the initial bids are submitted.
The initial bids are non-binding, two sources said, although groups will need to demonstrate that they can fund their bid.
"This first round is more to find out who really has money and who is just talk," one source said.
The later stages of the process were outlined in a settlement between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball last month. After the initial bids come in, Blackstone will submit a list of the groups it is most interested in to MLB, which will then do its own formal vetting process and inform Blackstone which groups would likely be approved by three-fourths of baseball's 30 owners. The final stages of the process will be handled by Blackstone and McCourt, who have the final say. McCourt has agreed to sell the team by April 30.
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLA.com.