McCourt’s Problem: Fans Want New Dodger Owner
June 29, 2011
As Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball continue wrangling for ownership of the Dodgers, one fact stands out above all others.
McCourt has lost the trust of fans who are now expressing their feelings by staying away from Dodger Stadium.
Less fans means less revenue for a cash-starved owner and it’s hard to see how he can pull out of his current financial problems and operate the franchise successfully long-term.
On Tuesday McCourt and MLB baseball agreed to postpone an MLB financing plan until July 20 when the next chapter in the saga will unfold. McCourt is being permitted to borrow money to meet this week’s payroll.
But McCourt losing his battle to remain the Dodgers’ owner seems inevitable.
It’s hard to find anyone who thinks he’ll emerge as the Dodgers owner over the long haul.
I haven’t heard any McCourt sentiment in my conversations with fans at Dodger stadium, my most recent attempt coming last Sunday.
Other fans have expressed the feeling it’s time for a change in letters to the editor in the Los Angeles Times and in interviews with local television stations.
The sentiment is nearly unanimous that McCourt has violated the fans’ trust in one of sports’ most storied franchises with his lavish lifestyle.
“In pursuing his own financial interests at the expense of the club, overleveraging it and draining millions of dollars for capital investment and operations, Mr. McCourt has placed the Dodgers in their current, incredible position of not being able to make payroll less than halfway through the regular season, the MLB filing in bankruptcy court read.
The judge didn’t make a ruling Tuesday that would have caused McCourt to miss payroll and MLB to make it and then seize control of the franchise.
But McCourt still appears close to running out of options. He has agreed to pay a hefty 10 percent interest on this loan and a $4 million fee.
Consider the fact the Dodgers are currently in fourth place and have little chance of making the 2011 playoffs, so there won’t be revenue from the additional games.
Commissioner Bud Selig is determined to end McCourt’s seven year reign.
The mere fact the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy ruins whatever credibility McCourt had with fans.
I won’t get into specifics of conversations I’ve had at the stadium this season with treasured Dodger players of the past. But I’ll reveal the names of some who have crossed my path. Last weekend I talked to Eric Karros and Ron Cey, and suffice to say neither was thrilled with recent developments.
Steve Garvey has gone public with his intention to form a group that may bid for the club although I’ve been told there will be several competitors.
Whether you favor McCourt or not you’ll probably agree his financial problems represent a sad era in Los Angeles sports.
How close is he to losing the franchise? In baseball terms, he’s probably in the bottom of the ninth inning.