Let the Fans Choose

With the potential sale of the Chicago Cubs by the Tribune Co. it has often been speculated as to who the potential buyers might be. Mark Cuban, current owner of the NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks, has already submitted an application for purchase to Major League Baseball. He also has his eyes on the Pittsburgh Pirates, another franchise that may soon be for sale. Regrettably, his main obstacle to obtain ownership of a major league franchise will be that he is too successful and too competitive.

In order to purchase a team, a potential owner must meet approval of the current owners. However, the current owners don’t want another George Steinbrenner or John Henry driving up free agent prices. It’s doubtful if the league was to review Henry’s application again that they would approve him as owner of the Red Sox . They were hoping to get an owner strapped for cash and in huge debt who wouldn’t be able to afford a high payroll. Henry instead learned that the best way to make money was to spend it on a winning franchise.

The problem is that most baseball teams are owned by groups and corporations more concerned with the bottom line than with winning. They treat they franchises as just another corporate division. What’s even more sad, is that if they had any knowledge of sports economics they would realize that the best way to make money in sports really is to win and spending to win is important.

The real sad part is that the people to suffer are the fans. These are the same fans asked to pay exorbitant ticket prices to cheer for mediocre teams year in and year out. Even worst, these are the same fans who are forced to pay higher taxes when the rich owners decide that they want the city and state to subsidize new stadiums. The same new stadiums that will contain prime luxury suits, while the regular fans are forced father away from the action into sections that were afterthoughts during the design. Even if the team “graciously” decides to pay for a new stadium themselves, there are almost always a good hundred million dollars or more of “infrastructure improvements” that the team requests the local or state governments to pay for.

While I am against these forced tax payer subsidies to already wealthy owners, this seems to be a practice with no end in site. But its time for the fans to demand action. While the fans are paying for new stadiums, paying outrageous ticket prices, paying for mediocre teams and owners that just don’t care, isn’t it time that the fans get some say?

Why is it that the current owners get to decide who joins their ranks and ruins yet another baseball franchise? These are teams that represent cities. These are teams that are bankrolled by fans in those cities. Let’s give those fans a say in who runs their team. Do you think the fans would chose some faceless corporation that wouldn’t give a lick as to whether the team was winning or losing, or would those fans chose a Mark Cuban, who do everything he could to ensure a successful franchise on the corporate ledger as well as on the field.

If these teams want to continue to represent our cities and get stadiums payed for on the taxpayers’ dime, then it’s time that these teams are owned by people we the fans can trust to do everything in their power to provide a classy, competitive team. Fans have had enough with owners like the Tribune Co. or Liberty Media Group. Let the fans choose a Mark Cuban, or Art Moreno or the next George Steinbrenner.