Rupert Murdoch is nearing a $400 million deal to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers--a National League rival of Ted Turner's Atlanta Braves--which could be the first of many sports franchises added to his News Corporation empire.
Late Monday, Dodger owner Peter O'Malley said he was dealing exclusively with News Corp.--which also controls the Fox cable and TV networks and 20th Century Fox studio. O'Malley, who announced his plans to sell the legendary team in January, asked Major League Baseball to okay the negotiations. Approval from baseball's executive council is likely sometime Tuesday, with general league permission expected as early as next month, the Los Angeles Times reported.
That means the Dodgers could be the cornerstone team in a Los Angeles-based sports conglomerate for News Corp. that could one day include pro football and basketball franchises. Such a move would put Murdoch's company in the same corporate ballpark as Disney (with the Anaheim Angels and Mighty Ducks) and Time-Warner (official owners of Turner's beloved Braves and Hawks, since the merger).
Of course, cynics say the Australian-born Murdoch doesn't bleed Dodger blue, and his interest in the team is motivated purely by greed. Lucrative merchandising and broadcasting deals can generate major revenues for News Corp. And, as owner and broadcaster, Murdoch can play both sides of the bargaining field when it comes to negotiating TV rights.