By RONALD BLUM AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hedge fund head Steven Cohen, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and groups including Joe Torre and Magic Johnson have survived the first round of cuts in bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Initial bids were submitted Monday to the financial firm handling the sale by Frank McCourt, and people affiliated with process said Friday they were notified they will be advancing in the process. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

Cohen and the Torre and Johnson groups surviving the cut were first reported by the Los Angeles Times on its Web site.

It was unclear whether more groups also advanced to the next stage. At least one bidder, also speaking on condition of anonymity, was part of a group that had not received a notification from Blackstone Group. More than 12 groups submitted initial bids on Monday.

McCourt put the team in bankruptcy last year and reached an agreement with Major League Baseball to sell the team by April 30, the deadline for him to make a $131 million divorce payment to former wife Jamie McCourt.

The team and Dodger Stadium are expected to sell for more than $1 billion, although it remains uncertain whether 240 acres of land surrounding the ballpark, which include the parking lots, will be included in the sale.

McCourt’s agreement with MLB calls for him to forward up to 10 bidders to MLB for background checks, which cost each group $25,000 to cover baseball’s costs.

“The preliminary round of bidding has underscored the robust nature of the sales process, the significant purchase opportunity which the Dodgers represent, and the enormous value that the sale of the Dodgers, including their media assets, will generate,” the team said in a statement.

“Each of the preliminary bids has been reviewed carefully by the Dodgers and its financial adviser Blackstone. Blackstone is notifying all of the bidders as to which ones will and which ones will not advance in the sales process.”

Three of the four identified surviving groups have ties to baseball:
–Cohen is represented by Steve Greenberg, the son of Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, a former agent and deputy commissioner and frequent banker for baseball team sales.
–Torre, a former Dodgers and New York Yankees manager, quit as an MLB executive vice president to join a group headed by real estate developer Rick Caruso.
–Johnson, the Hall of Famer and former Los Angeles Lakers star, is part of a group that includes former Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten and Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the Guggenheim Partners financial services firm.
Cuban was among the losing bidders for the Texas Rangers two years ago and for the Chicago Cubs before that.
AP freelance writer Ken Sins contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)
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