Steve Soboroff’s letter to The Times
Steve Soboroff’s op-ed submission in support of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt:
Piling On: A Sport L.A. Doesn’t Need
We love Los Angeles and people who do good things for Los Angeles. What we do not like is how some in our city seem to make it a sport to tear down some of the very people who do plenty to make L.A. a better place.
It is not just uncomfortable to watch public attempts to pour “salt in the wounds” of fellow Angelenos, it is bad business, bad public policy and not in the best interest of a city whose civic life depends on leaders who demonstrate a willingness and commitment to step up to the plate.
Yes, we are talking about Frank McCourt, owner of the Dodgers, and the piling on we have witnessed recently. Both McCourts have made mistakes which are under intense media scrutiny these days. And we understand that their high profile, albeit unfortunate, divorce story certainly merits media coverage.
But when it comes to leaders “piling on”, however, there is no place for it. Frank has made mistakes and errors, but he has also delivered big-time when it comes to community benefits and seems to have much more to offer in the future.
After all, under his ownership, we have seen a winning tradition restored to the Dodgers ball club after decades of mediocrity on the field. Our Dodgers have four playoff appearances in seven years and back-to-back appearances in the NLCS for the first time in 32 years. Sure, we just had a disappointing season on the field, and there are lots of reasons for that. Next year we want to be back on top almost as much as McCourt does.
Frank McCourt has invested significantly in Dodger Stadium, $150 million dollars so far, doing deferred maintenance, enhancing the fan experience and making improvements to the field – all in an effort to preserve that majestic place for the next 50 years. He promises more to come.
For his major and minor league players and the fans, Frank created a spring training experience closer to home with the completion of the beautiful Camelback Ranch Minor League facility in Arizona, and a has a continued commitment to spend among the highest amounts in baseball to field a competitive team.
And he is far from broke. Despite what some may say, the Dodgers are worth at least $300 million more than all the debt everyone seems so excited about. He has been public about his plans to invest most of that into the Dodgers business. The naysayers are spreading rumors, lining up to snatch the team at some fire sale. Fox had the fire sale. McCourt has the equity and created real value.
McCourt has been very active in giving back to the Los Angeles community. He has expanded the impact of Dodger philanthropy in communities throughout Southern California, and has built new ball fields with many more on the way. This year he proudly, but quietly, led the charge that saved after school baseball and softball in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Dodgers were heavily involved with the launch of Think Cure, a cancer fund, with City of Hope and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to help find a cure for cancer. They also make an important impact on learning through the annual gift of 42 scholarships to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Many of our neighborhood schools have after school programs funded by Dodger philanthropy.
And Frank McCourt took a Los Angeles Marathon headed for bankruptcy and created a course that captures the spirit of Los Angeles and helped bring four cities and the federal government around his single “Stadium to the Sea” course. Next year Los Angeles will most likely be televised nationally during this amazing race. The LA Marathon’s philanthropic reach was widely expanded and McCourt is working to do more.
We love Los Angeles, and want to continue to participate in making it a better place in the future. Should Frank McCourt retain his ownership of the Dodgers, he certainly deserves every opportunity to continue making a positive impact on a city in a dire need of strong community leaders.