A campaign to build support for public ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers could succeed if Angelenos believe three things - a public bid is in the best financial interest of the team, it is the ultimate expression of Dodger pride, and it is a guaranteed way to prevent the baseball team from ever moving outside of the City of Angels, the man behind the campaign told The City Maven today in an interview.
Stanley Stalford grew up wanting to become president of the Dodgers. While that didn't happen, Stalford's love for the team remained. About eight to nine months ago, he began to formulate a plan that would allow the public to own the team. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig's decision to appoint a monitor to oversee the Dodgers' operations, which many see as an attempt to get Frank McCourt to sell the team, made now the right time to push the public ownership idea.
"It went from a great idea to actually putting something together a week and a half ago," Stalford said in an interview at his home in Hancock Park. "When the commissioner seized day-to-day management control of the Dodgers, it (became) pretty obvious that the next step is that they're going to dispose of the team."
For Dodger fans, public ownership could mean an upgraded stadium, lower concession prices and cheaper parking, Stalford said. That's because the bid would be a cash purchase, eliminating debt payments. Also, the corporation would be nonprofit.
"Our proposed structure eliminates the profit motivation," he said.
Under the proposal, the Dodgers would be governed by a board of 15 civic leaders, five of whom would be part of an executive committee.
The team is valued at $800 million, according to Forbes. Stock ownership of the team would be done in a manner similar to an initial public offering. Stalford expects a structure like what is in place with the Green Bay Packers. There, more than 4.7 million shares are owned by 111,507 shareholders, with no one person allowed to own more than 200,000 shares, according to the team.
It is expected that a public bid of the Dodgers would include a:
- Low stock price
- Required minimum investment
- Limited number of shares
- Dividends would not be paid on the shares.
"This is the ultimate expression of fan pride," Stalford said. "This allows Dodger fans to put their money where their mouths are."
The first goal of the "Own the Dodgers" campaign is to get as many fans as possible to sign on as supporters. Stalford and his team hope to use those supporters to show investment firm how serious they are about the bid. The campaign is online at OwnTheDodgers.com, and accounts have been set up on Twitter and Facebook.
Ultimately, ownership of a sports team that is so beloved by fans comes down to trust, Stalford said.
"There is a willful disregard for the public trust that (team owners) buy when they buy the team," Stalford said.
"They don't just get the parking lots and the stadiums and the revenue and the TV rights. They buy all of that good stuff but ... they're buying a level of responsibility for managing a public trust and a public asset, like the Dodgers. The breach of that trust is what is so damaging to Dodger fans and why it's time for us to stand up and say enough is enough."