Should the Dodgers Take the Green Bay Route and Have a Publicly Owned Team?

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Amid speculation last week that Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt would be unable to make payroll, the buzz intensified that Major League Baseball would shortly have no choice but to take over the Dodgers and depose McCourt.  

That would be big news, for sure, but since MLB would not take over the Dodgers on a permanent basis, there is now growing support for the idea that instead of finding another billionaire to buy the team, the fans should buy it, via a publicly held not-for-profit corporation.  

There would be obstacles, to be sure:  for one, such a fan-based ownership group would not meet the MLB standards for team ownership (for the record, baseball allowed McCourt to take over the Dodgers despite not meeting their standards and look how THAT turned out), but there is also a precedent here:  the Green Bay Packers.

Hit the title/read more to continue reading on how the Dodger fans can take action…

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A number of media people and Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn (who is also running for Congress) have come out in support of the idea, and a formal campaign has been started (see  

All eyes have fixed on how well the Green Bay Packers have done as fan-owned team, and to be fair, the Packers are a good ideal to which to aspire.   The Packers do not earn profits per se, and any excess funds the team earns go to public projects like building playgrounds or helping public schools.  

If that sounds a little bit socialist, it is, but sports team ownership has never been (or at least wasn’t ever supposed to be) a purely profit-motivated endeavor.  After all, can you tell me whether the Flyers or Blackhawks were more profitable in 2010?  

How about the San Francisco Giants?  Did they have a better or worse cost-efficiency percentage than the Texas Rangers last year?  Well, how about the Steelers and the Packers. . .oh wait, you KNOW the answer to that one.  See what I mean?  

So the fans obviously wouldn’t mind owning their team – what about the players?  I don’t ever remember any Packers’ players being annoyed with Packers’ ownership except Brett Favre – and that had nothing to do with money.  In fact, didn’t the Packers throw a big giant chunk of money at Reggie White to help Brett Favre win his only Super Bowl?  Hmmmmm.   

In reality, fan-based ownership holds many advantages to fans, players and even the city.  After all, a fan-based ownership group is pretty unlikely to demand that the city forgive millions in debt, or spend 10% of their budget putting up a new stadium, under threat that the owner will pick up the team and leave.

But fan-based ownership in the salary-capped and revenue-shared NFL could be a very different animal than in the every-man-for-himself world of MLB.  You have to believe that other MLB owners will NOT want to compete with a not-for-profit corporation whose bottom line can come out “0” and call it a successful season.  

If, for example, fan-based ownership works for the Los Angeles Dodgers, can a similar push be far behind for the Pittsburgh Pirates?  

Keep a very close eye on this story.  If fan-based ownership is an idea whose time is coming, it could signal a big change (one for the better, I believe) in the way sports teams compete with each other, interact with fans, and act as corporate citizens in the cities where they play.

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Rob Lazlo

Rob Lazlo lives in Atlantic City, NJ and is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan, following the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers. A former professional musician, he toured with the USO and visited Greenland, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Bahrain and many other locales. Rob is a big science fiction fan and loves movies, television, cooking, music and, of course, sports of all kinds. He works as a business consultant and is happily divorced with three children. For other hobbies, Rob plays sports titles video games and dabbles in online games. He also enjoys reading and following politics.

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