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Dodger Stadium Catches Fire, Frank McCourt Makes Payroll: What Else Can Go Wrong?

Quite a weekend in Dodger land. For those of you just back from SLO, let's recap...

Dodger Stadium, the jewel of Chavez Ravine, ranks an abysmal 25th out of 30 ballparks in customer reviews on Yelp.

That may help explain why attendance is down 7,000 per game.

On the plus side, that's fewer people to evacuate when the stadium catches fire, which it did not once but twice.

Worst of all, Frank McCourt made payroll.

And the Dodgers took three out of four.


Nate Silver did the Yelp analysis on his blog, FiveThirtyEight.com. Dodger Stadium ranked ahead of only five other stadiums, including the atrocious Tropicana Field, Oakland Coliseum (now Overstock.com Coliseum), and Sunlife Stadium. That's not good company to be in.

Certainly, as Silver says, a lot of that is due to the unruliness of Dodger fans. Another factor is that the stadium is aging and hasn't been fully renovated in a while. Early in his tenure, Frank McCourt vowed to redo all the concourses. He got as far as the field-level boxes where he and his rich friends sit. Then the recession hit and he ran out of money, leaving the cheap seats in the lurch. (By the way, if you're looking for the perfect metaphor for the economic crisis, search no further.)

For his story, Chris Erskine went out and talked to a bunch of fans about why they no longer go to games. He came away with a variety of answers, from hatred for McCourt to higher prices to the coarsening of the atmosphere.

"There's no way I would take a kid to a game now," says Al Perrine, who gave up his season tickets.

Compared to all that, the fire in the storage area during Saturday's game is a relatively minor incident -- more symbolic than anything. No injuries.

Meanwhile, Molly Knight reports for ESPN that Frank McCourt has made payroll thanks to advance payments from corporate sponsors. These sponsors were willing to take discounts on future bills for luxury boxes in exchange for cash up front. McCourt needed to make the final payroll in May -- it's those long, three-paycheck months that get you -- to prevent Major League Baseball from seizing the team and selling it.

Now, he's got a two-week reprieve to come up with the money for the next payroll, which reportedly includes a big deferred payment to Manny Ramirez. Presumably McCourt has already tapped out all his friends and relatives, so if he asks you for money, say you're broke. Also, if we can get the names of the corporate sponsors that bailed McCourt out this time, somebody can get a boycott started.

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