It was a long drawn out public mess, this Los Angeles Dodgers sale. It ended up with a diverse group of successful businessmen, from sports and entertainment, taking control of the assets of a legendary brand gone astray for a cool multi-billion dollar asking price that probably had the late Bill Veeck, one of the great owners and promoters of years past, laughing from heaven. The business of sport had hit a new high. Even after the sale the Dodgers still had lawsuits to settle, one with Charles Sternberg, brought west by the club at one point to help rehab their image with past owners, for over $1 million dollars. Promotion it seemed had its price.
Still what would be the price of fan loyalty. What would it take to bring Dodger blue back to spend some green in Chavez Ravine? Despite the efforts to promote the team during the latter stages of the McCourt era, the battles with the media had turned the once loyal fanbase away, maybe even towards the Angels and Orange County and the fan friendly environs created by owner Artie Moreno and his staff, led by a former beloved Dodger himself in Mike Scioscia? The price it seems at first step, has been relatively low.
Yes the new Dodgers group, the legendary Magic Johnson, baseball exec Stan Kasten, media mogul and Golden State Warriors owner Peter Guber and the rest, were a new refreshing series of faces. However the best thing about the group were faces that were smiling, were engaged and despite the high price tag, projected positive messages to the fans. They were not messages about billion dollar salaries or bringing new stars to the ballpark yet. They were messages that appealed to the beauty of the game and the fun experience that could be had again at Chavez Ravine. The process involved lots of media interviews for sure, but at the end of the day it was the simplest of acts, one that was really reflective of one of the last pieces that ownership had to settle before completing the sale.
They lowered the price of parking. A simple, relatively cost-free move, put forth as a peace offering over the parking fields that the McCourt regime coveted so much. Not a hard thing to do, even temporarily, but a move that showed that even the most elite of owners understood that the extra cost put a dent into the family experience from the minute that drive was completed. They could have cut some ticket prices, but lowering the cost of parking, other than cutting the price of concessions, probably meant more as a first step than any pep rally or giveaway could have meant. It was the first and surely not the last move the organization run by a group that has shown a willingness in other ventures to work with the fans and their experience, will do. It wasn’t a big hit to the pocketbook for the short term, but it showed change is coming and we want you here, because we have to repair the damage done.
Sometimes the simple things are the biggest and best remembered. For the Dodgers, a little parking change goes a long way.