Ten potential ownership groups hoping to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers have advanced to the second round of bidding, a source close to the situation said Friday night on condition of anonymity.
The Blackstone Group, the global investment firm that is handling the sale of the club for outgoing owner Frank McCourt, completed the narrowing down of prospective buyers following the first round of bidding, which took place on Monday, and was hoping to notify each bidder by the end of the night as to whether they had advanced.
One bidder no longer in the running is a group headed by former Dodgers Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey, a source with knowledge of the process said Saturday.
Though Blackstone and sources close to McCourt have remained tightlipped throughout the process, ESPNLosAngeles.com has identified, through conversations with various sources, five groups which are known to have advanced:
• The group headed by Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson and largely funded by Guggenheim Partners chief executive officer Mark Walter.
• The group headed by Steve Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund manager and founder of SAC Capital Advisors in Stamford, Conn.
• The group headed by Los Angeles real estate developer Rick Caruso, a group that also includes former Dodgers manager Joe Torre.
• The group headed by Stanley Gold, the chief executive officer of Shamrock Holdings, a private investment company founded by the late Roy E. Disney, with several of Disney's surviving family members also involved in that group.
• The group headed by former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley, which reportedly has discussed joining the Gold/Disney group but thus far hasn't done so.
Bidding is now north of $1.2 billion, and rising, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The Dodgers issued a statement confirming that the first round of bidding is officially complete, but that statement offered nothing in the way of specifics.
"The Los Angeles Dodgers today confirmed the round of preliminary bidding has been completed successfully,'' the statement read. "The preliminary round of bidding has underscored the robust nature of the sales process, the significant purchase opportunity which the Dodgers represent and the enormoous value that the sale of the Dodgers, including their media assets, will generate.
"Each of the preliminary bids has been reviewed carefully by the Dodgers and its financial advisor Blackstone. Blackstone is notifying all of the bidders as to which ones will and which ones will not advance in the sales process."
One source said the notification process could drag into Saturday morning if certain bidders were difficult to reach.
Like Hershiser and Garvey, Larry King's group also appears to be out of the running. On Saturday, he tweeted: "Losing the bid for the Dodgers is in the top 5 worst things to lose, but I'm not giving up. Stay tuned..." King is part of a group headed by Chicago White Sox executive and Beverly Hills insurance agent Dennis Gilbert.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.