As several readers point out, this goes back to when Peter O'Malley's father Walter was negotiating with the city of L.A. to build Dodger Stadium. The city made a sweet offer: More than 300 acres in Chavez Ravine, $2 million to level the land, nearly $3 million in access roads to the freeways, and half interest in any oil that was discovered. In exchange, O'Malley would give the city Wrigley Field. The proposed agreement, which required voter approval, went on the ballot in June 1958. It was opposed by John Smith, who with his brother owned the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. Smith was concerned that bringing major league baseball to California would diminish the Pacific Coast's fan base and lead to additional MLB franchises, including one in San Diego. In his book, "The Giants and the Dodgers: Four Cities, Two Teams, One Rivalry," Andrew Goldblatt picks it up from there:
On the Sunday before the election, Dodger supporters sponsored a five-hour telethon hosted by Joe E. Brown and featuring, among others, comedians Jack Benny, George Burns, Jerry Lewis, and Danny Thomas; actresses Debbie Reynolds, Lorraine Day (Leo Durocher's ex-wife); former Dodgers Chuck Connors and Babe Herman; and retired umpire Beans Reardon. This would be privately financed and cost taxpayers nothing, they said, in contrast to San Francisco shelling out millions for the Giants' new digs. Dodger Stadium would generate $300,000 a year in tax revenues. The city would gain nine acres in South Central plus a new recreation area in Chavez Ravine worth $500,000.
"I think we were saved by the power of television," [Dodgers General Manager Buzzie] Bavasi admitted as Proposition B passed by fewer than 25,000 votes (52 percent). Bavasi then crowed that the deal was a giveaway, likening it to the purchase of Manhattan from the Indians.
The further irony is that 10 years later Bavasi became president and part owner of the expansion San Diego Padres. As for the proposed sale, the O'Malley family continues to negotiate with Padres owner John Moores, with the window extended for at least 10 more days. From Reuters:
"The sale is advancing, but it's nowhere close to being completed," a source said. "Some details of the negotiations have slid backward. But overall, there continues to be progress toward an agreement in a very complicated transaction. Some of it is being renegotiated." The negotiations are complicated by Moores being out of the country on vacation.