LA’s sports stars are the city’s latest real estate superheroes.
Besides a pool with expansive views, this $4.2 million Sunset Plaza aerie owned by ex-SF Giant Barry Zito offers an exact replica of a MLB pitcher’s mound on its spacious grounds.
Health-obsessed LA is like a magnet for professional athletes—even those who aren’t on area teams’ rosters. In season and out, pro players can be found across the basin, from Pasadena to the West Valley to the beach.
Because of its proximity to the team’s training facilities at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, the South Bay is home to numerous LA Kings. Hometown heroes in Hermosa Beach, the Stanley Cup winners earned a parade in the city, where three players on the tight-knit team purchased $2 million homes in the past year. For young and single athletes, the Hollywood hills are the go-to spot; once wives and children come along, they may transition to Calabasas, Westlake Village, or Hidden Hills—cities known for their schools and “where you get more for your money,” says ReMax Olson’s Jordan Cohen, who’s sold homes owned by Reggie Bush and Pete Sampras.
Other favored locations for pros include the sleek condo towers of Marina del Rey (Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Dashon Goldson owns four condos there), along with the leafy, Dodger Stadium–adjacent cities of Pasadena (Matt Kemp is a homeboy) and La Cañada Flintridge. As for Kobe Bryant, he decamped all the way to Newport Beach to preside over an 8,500-square-foot Mediterranean-style estate, complete with gym, hair salon, and… shark tank! The arena-sized compound, represented by ReMax Olson’s Cohen, is on the market for $7.999 million.
With access to cash and significant net worth, star athletes are among LA’s top-of-the-top players in the real estate game. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and wife, Gisele Bündchen, recently sold their newly built Brentwood megamanse for $40 million. (The lucky buyer? Dr. Dre.) At the same time, former NFL receiver-turned-ESPN-commentator Keyshawn Johnson sold his six-bedroom, nine-bath Mediterranean-style Calabasas pad to Kourtney Kardashian for more than $8.4 million. And former USC Trojan, Cy Young winner, and San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito has two Sunset Plaza properties on the market: one, priced at $3.95 million, comes with a pitcher’s mound that is an exact replica of those found in major league ballparks, says co-listing agent Sharon Hills of Kobeissi Properties La Cañada Flintridge.
Reggie Bush’s former 5,000-square-foot home in the Hollywood Hills recently sold for $5.7 million. Jordan Cohen was the listing agent.
Interestingly, a sports-themed house is not necessarily what high-profile athletes demand. The 2014 French Open champion Maria Sharapova has lived in the South Bay for more than six years and is building her dream manse in the Manhattan Beach Hills neighborhood. Surprisingly, neither of her properties has a tennis court; Sharapova often practices at the Manhattan Country Club. According to Chris Dingman, president of the Dingman Group, a 600-client firm that specializes in managing all aspects of pro athletes’ relocations: “Every athlete has some type of equipment at home, but a training room is not the biggest selling point. They’re not crazy different than an average person, although they might be a lot taller!” Homes with large showers and higher-than-normal doorways and sinks obviously have special appeal.
Newer construction and turn-key properties—which guarantee high ceilings and extras like up-to-date home theaters—are another common request, especially by young athletes, says Cohen. Ample space for family, friends, and cars are also at the top of the sporty set’s wish lists. When ex-Laker Andrew Bynum couldn’t find a house with a garage large enough to hold his 10-car collection, Shorewood Realtors’ Ed Kaminsky found him an auto repair shop where the famed free agent still stores his Porsche Techart GT, BMW M6, and other collectibles.
But, says Kaminsky: “Athletes’ most common request is privacy—a gated home or one with some form of protection.” A relatively paparazzi-free neighborhood is a key selling point, and if it has a strong sports culture where “they can be a part of the community without being hounded by fans,” says Kaminsky, it’s a slam dunk.