When it comes to the owners of sports teams, Georgetown has been able to cultivate both the good and the villainous. For the latter group, look no further than Frank McCourt (COL ’75), owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his ex-wife, Jamie McCourt (COL ’75).
As a Dodgers fan, I’ve watched (and quietly wept) as the couple dismantled a once great franchise. Now that Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, has taken control of the team’s operations, and rejected a television deal with Fox that would have bailed McCourt out, it is time to delve into what makes this current member of the Georgetown Board of Directors the most hated man in Los Angeles.
The McCourts, who met as Georgetown students, purchased the Dodgers in 2004, and since then, the team has witnessed its greatest postseason runs (two losses to the Phillies in the National League Championship Series) since Kirk Gibson’s World Series home run in 1988 (which I missed being alive for by 11 months).
But a few successful seasons aside, the McCourts made some changes that deterred fans from being able to enjoy their beloved team—prices on tickets, parking, and food skyrocketed. In 2004, the cheap seats cost $6, which had been their price since 1992. The top deck now costs $12 in advance and $15 day-of-game. It’s another $15 to park at the stadium. They also banned moving between sections during the game, an especially sucky rule since anyone who’s been to a Nationals game knows how much fun it is when this rule isn’t enforced.
But Dodgers fans aren’t the only ones who can complain about the rising prices of baseball tickets. What we can complain about, though, are the outrages committed by the McCourts using team money. The team paid Frank $5 million and Jamie $2 million per year from Dodgers-related business (Frank had split the franchise into numerous entities). Two of their sons also received $600,000 per year, while one was attending school at Stanford and the other had a full-time job at Goldman Sachs.
The team’s funds also enabled the McCourts to buy four homes in Los Angeles, for the low, low price of $89 million. And oh yeah, did I mention these salaries were almost entirely tax-free? According to Jamie McCourt’s court filings, one of Frank’s financial advisors said that the couple “used the business to fund whatever they needed, or wanted, as if it was their personal ATM or credit card”.
Read the rest of this entry »