So I read Matthew’s post on Major League Baseball exploring the possibility of a new downtown stadium for the Los Angeles Dodgers. And as I read it I had one of those strange quasi-out-of-body experiences in which you look around and then slap yourself and try to make sure you’re not dreaming.
First thought: this has to be a bluff. A threat to Frank McCourt that, if necessary, people will work around him. Second thought: a bluff is only as good as the target’s belief that the bluffer is willing to go through with it, so even if it’s a bluff, it bears analysis and consideration. As for that consideration: I’m struggling with just how crazy it would be for the City of Los Angeles to even pretend to go along such a scheme.
I don’t know anything about Los Angeles politics, so if I’m way off base, someone please tell me, but (a) on what planet does a city lift one finger or spend one cent to help a baseball team get a new ballpark when that team already has one that people tend to describe as a jewel; and (b) on what planet does Bud Selig’s Major League Baseball support and actively pursue 100% private investment for a ballpark?
I know about the football stadium thing people have talked about for downtown, but set your McCourt hate aside for a minute and ask yourself, what possible support could there be for a downtown stadium project for the Dodgers? And don’t tell me that it’s all AEG money, because no stadium project — not even the vaunted AT&T Park — is 100% privately financed. There would be tax abatements lobbied for and obtained. There would be infrastructure improvements required. Millions of public dollars would be spent on any stadium project, no matter what the press releases say about it being privately financed.
There is a gleaming, wonderful baseball stadium in Chavez Ravine that no one could sanely claim requires replacement for any reason other that the McCourt mess and the unsavory possibility of him being the landlord for any new Dodgers owner. But the McCourt mess is neither the fault nor the responsibility of the people of Los Angeles. It is the fault and responsibility of Bud Selig and Major League Baseball, who let this irresponsible jackass into the club.
If, in an effort to solve this problem, they push for the abandonment of Dodger Stadium and the construction of a new ballpark, it will be perhaps the most craven, cynical and shameless undertaking attempted since Selig took over. Sure, we can all identify a way in which Dodger Stadium is not ideal — traffic; location — but no sane person would have ever suggested its replacement absent Major League Baseball’s Frank McCourt problem. As such, this kind of proposal is the equivalent of burning down the village in order to save it.
And it’s also why, even as a bluff, it’s useless and ineffective.