At some point in our lives all sports fans once dreamed of becoming pro athletes. Before we were old enough to know better, “football or baseball” seemed like reasonable career choices, rather than choices of what to watch in October. As the years passed by we all slowly came to the realization that hearing our names called on draft day just wasn’t in the cards. Now, as we struggle to make it through our softball seasons without alcohol poisoning or a stint on the DL we dream about a different role in pro sports, “The Owner.” When sports fans buy a lottery ticket, most of us will tell you that the first thing we’d buy with the winnings is our favorite sports team. As it turns out the only thing harder to become than a pro athlete is the employer of pro athletes because even a massive lotto jackpot probably isn’t enough buy your favorite franchise.
The founders of Project Franchise stopped buying lotto tickets, did our homework and came up with an innovative business model that will turn the dream of running a pro sports team into a reality, for all of us. The concept is simple. In order to raise the money needed to buy a sports franchise, we are creating an online community where fans can pay a small amount for the right to vote on all team decisions related to the franchise we purchase. In effect, the team will be entirely run by real fans that care more about the win column than the bottom line. The fans will choose which team we purchase, select a new team name and vote on everything from rosters and lineups down to what condiments are served at the concession stand. We are looking for fans that share the dream of running a professional sports team, and know that they can do a better job than the overpaid suit, about to draft the next Ryan Leaf. Basically, for $5 we are offering the opportunity to participate as the “Collective GM” of a professional sports franchise.
We aren’t completely insane. While we’d love to raise enough money to purchase a team from the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, or NHL, we realize that this is a bit of a stretch. Realistically we are trying to acquire (at least a majority stake) in a minor league or semi-pro sports team (Independent Baseball, NBADL, ABA, AHL or Arena Football). These leagues offer flexibility that the big leagues don’t, and give the fans the ability to get involved for a fraction of what we already spend on fantasy football or video games. We have already had productive discussions with some of these leagues and they have been very receptive of our approach.
The most common question we’ve gotten so far is “Do you really think that the average fan is capable of running a sports team?” The answer is unequivocally “Yes!” We believe that regular fans do have the capacity to run a sports team, but they just haven’t been given the opportunity or access to the right information. Right now fans have to base all of their opinions on second or third hand knowledge from some guy who spent more time in the makeup chair than watching practice. Project Franchise is all about fan control and access. Fans will be able to not only look at stats, but watch practices, games and tryouts via the web and come to their own conclusion rather than have one jammed down their throat by the likes of Screamin A. Smith or Skip Bayless. Given the right information regular fans can absolutely do as well or better than most of the Owners and GM’s out there. In some cases, like the Knicks, they can’t possibly do any worse. Our inspiration is a guy like Mark Cuban (who actually reads emails from Mavs fans).Take away his billions and he’s a lot like the guy in Row 37 yelling for the ref to watch the 3 second violations. Considering where they were as a franchise before Cuban took over, we think that attitude is working pretty well in Dallas.
To ensure that this has a real chance, we will not be selling any premium community memberships until there are enough people who have joined for free and are interested to actually support the purchase of a team. All we are asking right now is that fans visit www.ProjectFranchise.org and sign up for the free online community, with no obligation to purchase voting rights. By doing this you are just letting us know that you think the idea is interesting and we will keep you in the loop as we progress. This is a grassroots campaign so we need everyone's help to get the word out. Forwarding this article to friends or your favorite blogs will go a long way. Please contact us with any questions, comments or suggestions. We are always right here at ArmchairGM or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org