Chattanooga Lookouts happy for Dodgers

Chattanooga Lookouts happy for Dodgers

March 29th, 2012 by David Paschall in Sports - Professional

The Chattanooga Lookouts have operated smoothly in recent months despite the chaos that has sullied the parent Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Dodgers being sold Tuesday night to a group containing Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten was welcome news.

"We've had such a great relationship with the Dodgers and absolutely expect that to continue," Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo said Wednesday. "We think it's good for the organization to bring in a baseball guy like Stan Kasten and a marketer and such a vibrant personality as Magic Johnson. Hopefully our relationship will continue to grow and prosper under the new ownership, and we expect that it will."

The Lookouts, who open their 2012 season next Thursday against the Tennessee Smokies at AT&T Field, are in their fourth year as Class AA affiliates of the Dodgers. Los Angeles and Chattanooga have a player development agreement that runs through the 2014 season.

Dodgers player development director De Jon Watson declined comment on the sale, adding that general manager Ned Colletti is better suited to discuss the transaction.

The Dodgers have been embarrassed in recent months by the venomous divorce between current owner Frank McCourt and his ex-wife, Jamie. The proud franchise has been in decline financially and filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

"The people we deal with on a day-in and day-out basis are the same people we've always dealt with, and we just haven't seen any hiccup at all on the Dodgers' end from our part," Mozingo said. "While there has been an awful lot going on in the Los Angeles area, it really shouldn't affect us much at all, and when you bring a Magic Johnson and a Stan Kasten into the fold, I think it will be beneficial and at some point will trickle down for us."

Kasten is the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, while Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles in the 1980s and has been a successful businessman since. Johnson is no stranger to Chattanooga, having visited Normal Park School students in October 2009 and serving as the featured guest last November for the "Magic for Moms" fundraiser that benefited the Helene DiStefano Fund.

The Dodgers sold for a record $2 billion. The Lookouts also are up for sale, but similar Class AA franchises have been sold in the past couple of years for $12-15 million.

"What's good for the Dodgers is good for Chattanooga, and this appears to be good for the Dodgers," Lookouts owner Frank Burke said. "It's nice to have a lot of that uncertainty behind them. It doesn't really affect us, but it does affect the people we know with the Dodgers.

"It's business as usual in Chattanooga, but I think any time there is some stability at the major-league level, it's helpful."