Dodgers owner Frank McCourt at the season opener. (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles…)
Is Frank McCourt the reason you might not renew your season tickets? The Dodgers would like to know.
With the embattled owner about to embark on the third year of his fight to retain control of the team, the Dodgers recently asked season-ticket holders whether they were likely to renew.
If a fan indicates renewal is unlikely or uncertain, the Dodgers then ask why, offering a list of possible factors that include "team performance," "pricing" and "ownership."
The Dodgers declined to discuss the survey beyond a one-sentence statement: "Market research is done on an ongoing basis to provide valuable feedback from our fans."
McCourt has resisted suggestions from Major League Baseball, his ex-wife Jamie, former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and numerous fans who have urged him to put the team up for sale. McCourt currently is opposing his ex-wife in divorce court and MLB in Bankruptcy Court.
The Dodgers are almost certain to miss the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since McCourt bought the team in 2004. The Dodgers had ranked first or second in the National League in attendance since then, but they rank sixth this season, on pace to sell fewer than 3 million tickets for the first time in a non-strike season since 1992.
David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, said the Dodgers would have opened themselves to criticism had they not included ownership on the list of factors.
"It's a no-win situation," Carter said.
The survey enables the Dodgers to isolate particular fan concerns and address them where possible, he said, but no fan should expect McCourt to surrender based on the results of the survey.
"He's not going to acquiesce on this kind of unscientific survey," Carter said. "The only survey he needs to look at is the empty seats."