Frank McCourt is an evil genius. Wait, check that. Frank McCourt’s legal representation and negotiating team are the geniuses. McCourt is simply evil. The man took ownership of the Dodgers in 2004 and every season since has been worse for Dodger fans. It’s not all his fault, of course, but that doesn’t make him exempt from blame.
Ticket prices were raised every season. Gone were the $6 bleacher seats out in right field where I once watched Roger Clemens get beat by a Paul Lo Duca three-run hom run, replaced with the $35 all-you-can-eat section, whose real affront is the absense of all-beef super dodger dogs and an inability to remain fully stocked. Seriously, if you’re going to charge me thirty-five dollars for a bleacher seat, then the least you could do is provide better quality hot dogs and not run out of food in the seventh inning.
Concession prices were raised every year. Parking costs increased. Safety decreased, and not just in regards to Bryan Stow being assaulted and almost killed last year, though that was emblematic of the lax security effort put forth by the team and the culture of drunken abuse that was tolerated during games. Dodgers stadium hasn’t been a family friendly place for years.
The team filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, a mark of both mismanagement after the purchase and also a reason why Major League Baseball should never have allowed McCourt to purchase the team in the first place since it was done largely through debt.
The salacious details of his divorce don’t interest me, but what is astonishing to me is out of the wreckage, Frank McCourt settled his divorce for $130 million and his ex relinquishing her rights to the team, sold the land around the stadium for $150 million, sold the team for just over $2 billion dollars and still retains half-ownership of the parking lots, which he continues to rent to the Dodgers for $14 million a year.
So this gets published recently:
Any era without Frank McCourt involved in it is going to be better, if only be default. But…
McCourt didn’t care about the fan experience. Perhaps evil is a bit strong for someone who has no history of kicking dogs when people aren’t looking, but he was bad for the Dodgers and it’s a blessing that he’s out of baseball, and let’s not pretend that the damage is magically undone now that new owners are in place. Ticket and concession prices are still way too high, something that’s unlikely to change much, if at all, a family friendly experience in Chavez Ravine is still a bit of a fantasy, and the new owners are beginning their tenure by lying about the team’s finances.
Oh, and the Dodgers crushed the Giants in a sloppy, error filled game on Monday night. So there was that, too.
The “explanation” about parking revenue is a masterpiece of hair-splitting doublespeak. I’m extra glad now that I walked up the hill to the game instead of using the official parking lots and can only wish that more fans will heed the call by blogger Maddaus to boycott them.
Sadly, baseball fans are as big saps as other sports fans and this will not happen. I was just reading about Glendale AZ where library and city services are being cut back and the sales tax increased to service the costs of the hockey arena in which the bankrupt league owned team plays. The City Council thinks this is such a great deal that they should keep paying for another twenty years. You’d think the non-fans at least would be outraged.