Frank McCourt’s Greed Comes to Light


In light of Friday’s news that the McCourts will have a one day trial to permanently decide the ownership of the Dodgers, it serves as no surprise that the ballclub is borderline bankrupt and lacking fan support due to their greedy use of the Dodgers as money making venture, and not a successful sports franchise.

According to ESPN The Magazine’s Ultimate Team Rankings released this week, the Dodgers are ranked as the 99th best out of all 122 franchises in the country’s four major sports, and the 27th ranked club in baseball. The cross-town Angels? Fourth overall and first in baseball. How can two teams be a half hour apart, share a market and yet be so far apart? Styles in ownership.

When Arte Moreno took the Angels off Disney’s hands in 2003, he immediately slashed beer prices and permanently dedicated his efforts to serving the fans and because of this ESPN ranks the Angels first among all teams in overall affordability. Their tickets prices are the third lowest, just higher than the Rays and Royals and the Angels have the country’s lowest concession prices, period. To top it off, only five franchises offer cheaper parking, none of which in a place as devoted to the automobile as Southern California.

The Dodgers on the other hand are ranked 101st in affordability, with only four teams having more expensive parking (one of which share the Dodgers’ financial troubles: the Mets).  Frank McCourt gained control of the Dodgers in 2004, and three years later began his $15 parking tariff, which coincided with a flawed redesign of the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Since then, the club has signed Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt and Manny Ramirez, but has nothing to show for it but deferred contracts and an ugly divorce.

With the vast amount of talent that the Dodgers brought up through the organization over the last handful of years core guys like Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, James Loney, Clayton Kershaw, Jonathan Broxton, Hung-Chi hKuo and even Russell Martin there is no reason for the Dodgers to be struggling on and off the field like they are. The crop of homegrown talent nearly rivals the generation of youngsters that the Yankees used in the late-90’s to win four World Series titles. Poor uses of resources and a blind-eye to fan support have put the Dodgers in the hole they built themselves.

The lack of ingenuity in terms of running of successful business is baffling for the McCourts who are supposed to be “smart business people” outside of baseball. Frank McCourt graduated from the USC’s Marshall School of Business, and Jamie McCourt practiced law for 15 years and taught at the prestigious MIT. These are not exactly incompetent people, and together (depending on who you ask) made tens of millions on a shrewd real estate market in Boston.

So how do they lack the savvy of running a successful franchise? It’s simple. Since day one, the McCourts have decided that their first priority was to make money off of Dodger Stadium. But unlike Arte Moreno who uses Angel Stadium as a marketing tool to make millions by hosting rock stars like U2 and popular events like Motocross, the McCourts decided to do so by plundering their own fans. Rises in parking prices, concession prices and even a ridiculous extra fee for having a seat in the first row of any section, have done just that.

The result is a franchise ranked 93rd in “bang for your buck”, 101st in fan relations, 108th in ownership,  and a depressing 97th in stadium experience, all while struggling to make payroll.

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