Second round Dodgers bids due about Feb 23: sources

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The second round of bids for the highly sought after Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team is due around February 23, according to several people familiar with the process.

The Dodgers are expected to fetch more than $1.5 billion, a record for a baseball team, and have attracted an impressive lineup of sporting and financial moguls, ranging from Magic Johnson to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen. Terms of a settlement between Major League Baseball and team owner Frank McCourt stated that McCourt must sell the team by April 30.

The coming round is likely to reduce the numbers of bids from the current 11, and could set off a consolidation as buyers team up for what is expected to be steep bidding, according to people familiar with the process.

The team declined comment.

On January 27 the Dodgers said a preliminary round of bidding had been completed and bidders had been notified of the results.

Between 15 to 20 parties submitted non-binding preliminary bids, and some well-known bidders like former sports agent Dennis Gilbert and former Dodgers stars Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser were cut from the process on January 27.

MLB can approve up to a maximum of 10 bidders who will be allowed to move forward in the process, sources said. Blackstone Group and McCourt will make the final determination in the sale. The list seems to change on a daily basis, with several bidders adding backers with deep pockets to their efforts.

(Reporting by Sue Zeidler; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)