Normally, the Fan Forum at diamondbacks.com isn't the kind of place I spend much time. Certain posters there are just so irritatingly reactionary, in their "you can have my purple cap when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers" way, that reading the threads there is usually more depressing than informative, educational or even entertaining. I certainly hope the forum there is not an accurate pulse of the state of Diamondbacks fandom. However, there is the occasional pearl of thought-provocation to be found: witness this post from micmac99 [He used to comment here occasionally, then vanished, though I vaguely recall hearing he was going to start his own blog, which would certainly be welcome!]
In it, he runs out the interesting idea of fan ownership of the Arizona Diamondbacks, suggesting it could be done on lines somewhat parallel to the Green Bay Packers. It's a nice idea, but I genuinely don't think that democracy is the best way to run a baseball team. [Actually, I remain fairly unconvinced it's necessarily the best way to run a country, but my views on that depend on how long it's been since I saw an episode of Jerry Springer...] "What better, more logical, more common sense group exists to look out for the best interests of the fans, than the fans themselves?" says micmac99?
Well, fans tend to let their hearts rule their heads, and would make decisions based on what was best for the team, rather than what will be. For example, I've little doubt that a fan-run franchise would be playing Luis Gonzalez in left-field, likely past the point that he needed to be wheeled out there. People like familiar faces, and so "veteran presence" in general would be over-valued, even in the face of CBY alternatives [CBY = cheaper, better, younger. I think you should get used to that phrase in 2007!] Woe betide management forced to pander to that, in order to keep their jobs: they'd never have the strength to make necessary, but unpopular decisions.
I'm also not sure there would be sufficient interest to raise the funds. Micmac99 estimates, at an absolute minimum, the sale of shares would need to raise $325m. Reaching that would mean, as a scenario, selling 25,000 shares for $13,000 each. Given the team was only getting about 25,000 per game last year - and even that required a capacity crowd for "Farewell to Gonzo" weekend - this seems optimistic, to say the least. It would be a difficult sell, especially given the lukewarm fanbase locally, with many residents still clinging to the previous teams they supported (hopefully, that aspect will change in time, as people "grow up" alongside the Diamondbacks). But would even the most die-hard fans - raises hand - be prepared to shell out, at a minimum, several grand? My hand drops, staying firmly in my pocket.
In contrast, Green Bay has a long, storied history, having been a non-profit entity since 1923. The corporation also had no problem adding more than a hundred thousand new shareholders, the last time there was an issue in 1998. The structure there is also radically different from the one proposed by micmac99: while shares do get voting rights, they can only be sold back to the team, no dividends are paid, the stock cannot appreciate in value, and you don't even get any ticket privileges. [Speaking of which, the team has over 70,000 names on their season ticket waiting list - despite the city only having a population of 100,000.]
There would certainly seem more credible cities for such an attempt: Chicago, where the Cubbies fanbase is perhaps the most rabid in all baseball [certainly, when you take into account their success, or lack thereof, over the past 80 years]. There's an interesting section in micmac99's post, "Fan interest in the team can generate enthusiam that can carry the team to great levels. On the other hand, fan apathy can cause the team to lose - if the fans don't care, the players will tend not to care." I venture to suggest the Marlins and Cubs are strongly suggestive this is probably not the case over the past decade.
Another suggestion is, "the creation of a Diamondbacks stand-alone cable sports network (similar to the YES Network of the New York Yankees) focusing on the desert Southwest." I doubt this would work, for similar reasons to those described above; there isn't the degree of interest to make it viable. Boston, Chicago and maybe St. Louis would seem about the only three cities outside of New York where such an operation might work. We also don't have enough content, since there is a limit to how many interviews with Bob Melvin a paying audience will stand. [Though as an aside, the idea of an Arizona channel, combining the output of the Suns, D'backs, Coyotes and Cardinals... Hmmm, that might just work]
So, I think this probably falls into the category of a pipe dream, but I just enjoyed the concept being floated immensely, and it's good to see fans, who may or may not agree with recent decisions by the owners, coming up with constructive suggestions on how they think things should be run. It certainly beats the hell out of the "boycott" talk still being cranked out from certain quarters, which helps nobody at all in the long run, and simply comes over as spiteful childishness. Hey, you don't want to support the Diamondbacks, that's entirely up to yours; but please respect those of us who will continue to do so.
Finally, here's a cool thing, coming to Peoria soon. Noted Seattle blog, USS Mariner are having a spring training get-together at a game on March 3rd - and this one features Q&A sessions with both general managers involved in the game. Sadly, it's not a Mariners vs. D'backs game, so there'll be no Josh Byrnes, but as well as Seattle GM Josh Bavasi, Padres head honcho Kevin Towers will be there, so we can get an insight into one of our premier divisional rivals perhaps. Currently, I am aiming to attend, hopefully with Mrs. SnakePit, if her work schedule permits, so if anyone else is interested in going, see this link for full details.
Ah, someday, perhaps, we at AZ SnakePit will be a blog-behemoth like USS Mariner, and Arizona celebrities will be begging us for an invite to our get-togethers... But at the moment, I guess we're more patrol boat than battleship! :-)