Frank McCourt Wheels and Deals For More

Originally published on LAist on February 25, 2010.

Used car salesman. Dick Cheney. Rampart Division cop. These are all people I trust more than Dodgers owner Frank McCourt.

It’s amazing too since one would think McCourt would have generated some good will with three division championships since swooping in from Boston to buy the Dodgers in 2004. Consecutive trips to the NLCS have revived the Dodgers from the nadir of the Fox days when decorated players were treated like chess pieces for television market domination.

But thanks to the McCourt’s divorce the financial documents of the Dodgers and the McCourts that are usually private are now public for the entire world to see, and we see that they are just using the Dodgers and Dodger fans as pawns for their toy box.

There’s no reason to begrudge anyone in seeking to make a profit – that’s the whole point of owning a business. But in Monday’s LA Times Bill Shaikin reported on previously confidential financial documents Jamie McCourt submitted in divorce proceedings, and some of it is astonishing.

The documents were prepared to convince Chinese investors to become partners in owning a soccer club in Beijing and purchasing another in the English Premier League. In it they anticipate Dodger revenues to jump from $295 million in 2008 to $529 million in 2018 thanks to proposed “DTV: Dodger Television” channels to be launched in 2014 in English and Spanish while maintaining to sell 3.8 million tickets annually.

While the amount of revenue generated by the television channels can be debated the document stated, “Currently, the Dodger’s ticket prices are relatively inexpensive and there is substantial room for prices to increase without resulting in a decline in attendance.”

To translate: we want Dodger fans to pay the price of us owning two soccer clubs.

To be fair the document also states that most of the price increases will be isolated to the premium seats. However it’s easy to see through the bullshit when the Dodgers have increased the price of “cheap seats” such as the top deck to $15 on game day and the left field pavilion to $18 on game day. The Dodgers have also introduced higher advanced ticket prices for Friday and Saturday games, and single game tickets will not be sold for their series against the New York Yankees but will be reserved for those who purchase mini plans and season tickets.

Fans will pay for quality as evidenced by the Lakers, and McCourt has repeatedly assured that he will always strive to field a quality team and ensure the Dodgers are in the upper quarter in the Major League in player salary.

Well the documents do not have player payroll increasing in proportion to revenues. In fact they plan on decreasing the percentage from around 40 at where it is now to around 25 by 2013 with it stabilizing until 2018 – from $132 million last season to $107 million this season with slight increases to $125 million in 2018.

I should reiterate that all of these numbers are very theoretical and does not reflect what will really happen. But with the intentions behind the numbers and the revelation Tuesday night from Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times that the McCourts have not paid a cent of federal or state taxes since 2004, it’s clear the McCourts have little respect to the Dodger legacy and the loyalty of Dodger fans.

The Dodgers and Dodger fans are mere pawns in the hyper-capitalist game for the McCourts to have the biggest toy chest. Four homes in Malibu, four homes in Holmby Hills, a legendary baseball franchise, a soccer club in an emerging market, and a soccer club in the most popular sports league in the world?

These are all excesses that Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI would totally spooge over, and the McCourts don’t care who they have to trample over to get what they want – even each other. I suppose we’ll just have to eat our cake.