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Issue 012

Go Team

by Alex Goldmark

August 9, 2008
Visit any sports stadium and you'll inevitably find thousands offans certain that they could run their team better than the people in charge. The folks behind Project Franchise tend to agree. They're planning to raise enough money from fans and advertisers to buy a minor-league sports franchise, and put every management decision-from what coach to hire to which beer to serve-up to a vote. It's a wisdom-of-the-crowd experiment, in the hands of disgruntled Monday-morning quarterbacks from around the world."We want to take fan involvement to the next level, to control the consumer experience, too," says Grant Cohen, one of four college friends behind the project. Voting memberships (right now Project Franchise has thousands of members; the number should increase when the site fully launches in the fall) will likely start in the $5 to $10 range. The low price, they reason, will attract enough fans to interest sponsors, who will throw in the rest of the money needed to buy a team, which they plan to do by the end of the year.

Fan-Owned Teams:

Cleveland IndiansWent public in 1998; despite a winning season, the team was back in private hands the next year.

Green Bay PackersSince 1923, the nonprofit team has been owned by 100,000 fans and won 12 league championships.

Ebbsfleet UnitedBought in 2007 for $1.2 million, collected online from more than 21,000 British soccer fans. The United won their conference title that season.

Schaumburg FlyersThis Independent League baseball team in Illinois let fans vote on management via MSN.com in 2006. The team lost in the playoffs, and most of the players quit.

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