Friday, January 28, 2005

Why Buy Tickets When You Can Own The Team?

Off Wing points to a mysterious website, Citizens for Washington Baseball. The group is soliciting people who would be interested in pooling their money to buy the team.

While Eric focuses on the sketchiness of the proposal--and looking at the website, it's certainly pretty sketchy--there's another reason not to bother. It's against Major League Rules.

First, MLB has a rule about the number of partners who can be in the ownership group, at least in the way most people would expect this group's business arangement to work. (This arose a few years ago, when the website sprung up asking for people to donate to buy the Expos.) In forming the corporation, MLB requires that there be several large investors to maintain a majority of the shares of the club. It's not enough to have 1 million people chip in $5 each. They would need a small core group to put up a majority of the money. Even when the Cleveland Indians sold shares of stock, the Jacobs family retained control of the voting shares. I can't find a citation for it, but a similar proposal sprung up for a team a few years ago and MLB dismissed it pretty casually.

And, since MLB isn't bound to necessarily give the team to the highest bidder (Such as with the Red Sox), MLB wouldn't be inclined to support this kind of move anyway.

Some have proposed full public ownership of the team, such as the situation is with the Green Bay Packers. MLB has a rule against this as well.

It's a nice idea. And it's fun to dream about chipping your $100 in and calling yourself an owner, but it's not going to happen, no matter how hard we wish.