Dodgers launch business accelerator with goal of improving fan experience

'Dodgers Accelerator' program to invest in companies looking to improve fan experience at Dodger Stadium

If you can imagine how to harness the power of technology to make the Dodger Stadium concession lines shorter, the Dodgers are willing to provide money and mentors to help you transform your idea into reality.

Under the "Dodger Accelerator" program launched Tuesday, the team will shepherd 10 start-up ventures for three months, with the hope of developing technologies to enhance sports and entertainment events. 

The Dodgers, like all sports teams, are flooded with proposals intended to help them serve their fans better and operate their facility more efficiently. In a program the team believes is the first of its kind in the sports industry, the Dodgers are soliciting ideas and furnishing the support that could bring them to fruition.

The Dodgers and their partner in the project, New York-based ad agency R/GA, will invest $20,000 into each of the 10 ventures, in exchange for a 6% stake in the fledgling companies.

The Dodgers and R/GA also will provide three months of free office space in Playa Vista and access to a variety of mentors, including Dodgers owners Mark Walter, Peter Guber and Magic Johnson and executives throughout the sports, entertainment and marketing industries.

Tucker Kain, the Dodgers' chief financial officer, said the projects could target technological advances in such areas as getting food to fans more quickly, building "second-screen" applications for fans watching at home or at the ballpark, and minimizing energy usage in facilities.

"It doesn't have to be a baseball-specific solution," Kain said.

The most successful projects, he said, will help push the sports and entertainment experience deeper into the digital age, pointing to Apple as an example.

"You walk into the Apple Store, everyone has a device, you swipe it and you leave," he said.

The Dodgers will make up to $100,000 in additional funding available to the most promising ventures, in exchange for an increased ownership stake. The Dodgers also will help present the ideas to potential investors and clients, with the likelihood that most ventures would represent evolutionary advances.

"If we found something revolutionary, that would be incredible," Kain said. 

And because the Dodgers would be part-owners in any company that finds something revolutionary, the owners of the team with the highest payroll in sports history might be able to secure additional millions that could be spent on players.

"If there were windfalls, these guys would continue to be committed to winning," Kain said.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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