Wednesday, September 01, 2010

More Tales of McCourt Duplicity Emerge

The McCourt divorce continues to unearth and illuminate skeletons that should scare the hell out of Dodger fans, fans who might have tolerated the McCourts' squabbling and occaasional lapses of ineptitude (parking plan, disappearing acts, tax evasion, etc.). The latest, unearthed by Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, reveals that despite overtures to the contrary, Frank McCourt planned to slash on-field payroll as well as sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium:

Among the promises Frank McCourt made on the day he took over the Dodgers in 2004: He would maintain the Dodgers' player payroll within the top one-quarter of major league teams, and he had no plans to consider selling naming rights to Dodger Stadium.

The business plan he filed with Major League Baseball tells a different story on both counts. In two largely similar versions of the plan, the document explains how he plans to reverse the Dodgers' financial losses in part by slashing payroll--from $100 million in 2004 to $85 million in 2006--and limiting annual growth to about 4%.

The document also notes the "iconic status of Dodger Stadium" and says "there may be initial resistance to re-naming the ballpark."

"The Dodgers' ability to remain competitive will rely in part upon the development of this revenue stream," the document reads. "A well thought out naming rights deal presented in this context will be accepted by the Los Angeles market. The success of the ' Staples Center,' ' Edison International Field' and ' Qualcomm Stadium' demonstrate the marketability for, and acceptability of, commercial naming of sports venues in the broader southern California market."

Scary, yes. But I'm not sure how to process this information when Dodgers payroll increased every year (save one) from 2004-2008, before dipping back in 2009. Likewise, the naming rights to Dodger Stadium have not yet been sold in the McCourt tenure--which the purist in me says is a great thing, though I have to admit that if I could correlate naming rights to the addition of a couple of big-name, A-list players to our roster, I might be okay with it.

Do these new documents reflect fleeting whims from a fledgling owner when he took over the franchise, and hadn't fully thought everything through? Or was this the master plan of McCourt all along, despite the fact that he hadn't executed one of the big potential revenue-generating streams, and he only recently caved on the other cost-saving initiative?

Or what's more, will the outcome of the McCourt divorce trial keep Dodger fans continuing to wonder when the other McCourt shoe (or high heel) will drop?


Kyle Baker said...

Good, balanced analysis, Sax. Makes me wonder what the import of these business plan filings that teams have to have with league really amount to anything concrete, or if they are pro forma. And/or if they're just thinking out loud in some ways. I mean, I guess I would consider an owner somewhat negligent if s/he DIDN'T at least consider the possibility and implications of naming rights of the stadium, for example. And, as you noted, Sax, they DIDN'T move forward with any plan for that.

Complex, to be sure, and to be even surer, there is plenty of blame for the McCourts, but we should be careful to consider these filings in their proper context (as you did in your comments).

Delino DeShields, Sr said...

I'm bidding on the naming right.


By the end of this, my offer of $204 should be more than suffice.

Kyle Baker said...

^ This is right along the lines of what crack reporter Molly Knight Tweets about tonight:

"Again, this was just the business plan--not reality. And I bet it's similar to other MLB plans. Still: frustrating for those 3 million fans"

Kyle Baker said...

I'll see Delino his $204 and add 3 dollars to the offer.

Fred's Brim said...

I would donate too but I just bought a couple of plates for Jamie's presidential campaign dinner.

We goin Sizzler, we goin Sizzler...

rbnlaw said...

To paraphrase MSTI:
McCourts; just end yourselves.

rbnlaw said...

. . .and I'll up the bidding to $210 to name the park, "rbnlaw Field at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, Nowhere Near Anaheim."

Rob said...

I wonder that the "slashed payroll" version of the business plan wasn't meant to make the purchase more savory to MLB, who probably wanted a neutered potential payroll powerhouse in the league. We'll probably never know.