Best Pitch for Angels Would Be Ownership Of Franchise by Fans
By DENNY FREIDENRICH
We’ve never met, so I hope it’s OK to address you this way. As a lifelong baseball fan, I support your move to sell the World Series champions. Fact is, I’d be happy if you did but only if the residents of Orange County can buy the team!
Just like the good people of Green Bay, Wis., who own the Packers football franchise, don’t you think everyone in Orange County deserves a shot at owning a piece of the Angels. As I’m sure you and the Disney legal eagles know, the Green Bay Packers is literally owned by its fans. More than 110,000 people, representing more than 4.7 million shares, can lay claim to a franchise ownership interest.
The Angels franchise isn’t the only ball club that’s had financial troubles. In 1923, with the Packers headed for bankruptcy, the club was transformed into a publicly owned, non-profit corporation. Since that time, there have been four stock drives. The last stock sale was in late 1997 and early ’98. It added over 105,000 shareholders and raised more than $24 million. Today, Green Bay residents are investors in a business that, according to Forbes, is now worth $400 million!
I realize it’s a long way from eating Wisconsin cheese to ordering hot dogs at Edison Field, so how do fans from Fullerton, Costa Mesa or Laguna Beach get a chance to own shares in the Angels? By ballot initiative. That’s right, residents of Orange County would vote on a measure asking Disney to turn over ownership of the ball club to the public.
At a time when corporate profits are being examined for every possible financial flaw, your desire to sell the Angels seems perfectly reasonable. According to one published report, the Angels only made $25,000 in 2001. No telling what the team’s profit will be for ’02, but apparently it won’t be enough to satisfy your shareholders.
Win or lose, the residents of Orange County deserve a chance to own a piece of the Angels and the straightest line from Disney’s ownership to public ownership is through the voting booth.
Denny Freidenrich grew up in Palo Alto, where he was a Willie Mays fan from the late 1950s through the ’60s. He is a principal in First Strategies, LLC of Laguna Beach.