A Look At The Dodgers And Community Ownership

Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News yesterday explored the viability of fan ownership of the Dodgers:

Peter O'Malley, whose family was the Dodgers' caretaker for 47 years, has already called on the McCourts to relinquish the franchise since they have "lost all credibility throughout the city."

Is there a credible alternative? Us.

The recent very public divorce proceedings embarrassed Angelenos to no end. Despite doing a lot of stadium renovation and laying out plans for more mini-mall-like expansion, the McCourts' ultimate treatment of the team, the city and its fans appears to be a pretty clear-cut case of L.A. identity theft. And we want it back.

Hoffarth used the example of the community ownership of the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, something that has been in place since 1923:

If baseball is a game of the people, by the people and for the people, can that Pack mentality (remember, Green Bay has a population of about 100,000) work with the 9.8 million folks of L.A. County and beyond?

I have to commend Hoffarth for his column. He thoroughly researched the plan, presented it accordingly, and even got noted sports business mavens Andrew Zimbalist and Maury Brown to weigh in.

That said, community ownership is not going to work.

To me, community ownership is akin to a fan walk-out or boycott. In theory, it seems like a good idea, a way to mobilize and show "the man" that there is power in numbers. However, when has there ever been a successful fan boycott? In the end, there is too much talk and not enough action, and the number of people involved aren't enough to make a dent in the bottom line.

However, let's assume for a moment that the community ownership can work, that enough people can successfully come together and organize an effective ownership group for the Dodgers. There's still the little matter of getting past the gatekeepers of MLB. Zimbalist told Hoffarth of the pitfalls of this strategy:

That said, Zimbalist conceded that a group of private citizens buying the Dodgers is "plausible in the abstract," but not really realistic.

"Leagues tend to want to avoid dealing with an unknowable mass of people," Zimbalist said. "It doesn't mean that it couldn't work. There is a certain advantage to having fans own a team. But it really depends on how it is structured."

Hoffarth will run a follow up to his column in the Daily News on Sunday.

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