Please, It's About Time!

It's great that Colangelo's been dumped. Now real players are taking over.

The two men butted heads, and Jerry soon found himself out.

"What it really turned on was the simple truth of Jerry's having had a long history of being the ultimate decider, and [then] a new circumstance arose in which he formally . . . did not any longer have that ultimate freedom," Kendrick tells me. "And it was just a difficult environment and one that just didn't work."

Kendrick and his three partners decided it was time for a change, so they forced Jerry out in early August. Nothing personal.

Jerry's cleared out his office at Bank One Ballpark.
Jerry's cleared out his office at Bank One Ballpark.

"It's a normal and usual thing in the business world," Kendrick says.

Because Jerry is an icon in Phoenix, the Republic, among others, self-servingly dubbed him a financial guru, who should get practically all of the city's redevelopment money for whatever he wanted to do.

The problem is, I repeat, Jerry not only was not the financial genius the Republic and others billed him, he was a bad businessman when it came to protecting his investors' bottom line.

"The difference is that Jerry has not had the breadth of experience in the business community because he came from the sports community," Kendrick says.

Colangelo, Kendrick says, didn't understand how to work with his business partners, a skill that's essential in any successful profit-making enterprise.

"It is the art of business," Kendrick says. "And Jerry hasn't had the history of ever having to do that."

At the same time, Kendrick tells me he understands that sharing power was a bitter pill for Colangelo, who had never had to compromise during his long run as managing partner of the Phoenix Suns and later the Diamondbacks.

"I am very respectful of the difficulty Jerry was placed into by these changes," he says. "But the changes were agreed upon. Therefore, we had the responsibility of representing not only our own money, but [that of] those people who invested this year. We have brought a lot of new people on board and they have expectations of us and we have fiduciary duties to them."

Chief among the expectations was getting somebody to run the baseball team who understood business and sports. The Diamondbacks appear to have that man in Jeff Moorad, a former players' agent who has replaced Colangelo as the team's chief executive officer. And, unlike Colangelo, Moorad is expected to make a significant financial investment in the team -- $30 million plus.

While the Diamondbacks are heading for 110 losses, ranking them as one of the worst franchises in baseball history, the positive news is: For the first time in the team's seven-year history, it will meet its budget this year.

This is vitally important, if the franchise is to have the financial capability of fielding competitive teams for decades to come. Financial responsibility, Kendrick says, is what it took to attract a talented sports businessman like Moorad.

"He recognizes that he will be partnering with people who have a level of financial discipline," Kendrick says. "He knows we are not a runaway train."

Kendrick understands that the Diamondbacks are a true community asset. The stadium and parking structures were built with $300 million in public funds. The team must rely on the goodwill of the community to thrive. It can't be seen as a team that gouges and exploits fans or a business that doesn't pay its bills on time.

Kendrick believes in Moorad. "He's a bottom-line-oriented kind of guy, and he's a baseball guy at the same time," Kendrick tells me.

The Diamondbacks' future suddenly looks much brighter with Colangelo out of the way. And Phoenix will be far better off without Colangelo calling all the shots on the future of downtown.

There's a new wave of smart business and community leaders who are quickly filling the void as Colangelo shuffles toward the West Valley, where he wants to continue the area's relentless urban sprawl with his unconscionable Douglas Ranch development project that will rely heavily on groundwater.

These new leaders, who are actually focused on making downtown Phoenix a dynamic 21st-century city, include Arizona State University president Michael Crow, world-class bioscience guru Jeffrey Trent, small business owners like Kimber Lanning, a progressive city council led by Mayor Phil Gordon, and big-time financial players like the new owner of the Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver.

Colangelo's descent from power is a good thing because it opens up the playing field for other leaders, including players like Sarver and Crow. This will only help create a more diverse, interesting and exciting downtown.

Don't think for a moment that Colangelo will have nothing to do. Mayor Gordon is considering offering Jerry a post as a key adviser. And as I already mentioned, Colangelo's working hard to destroy one of the last unspoiled tracts of Sonoran Desert with his massive development west of the White Tank Mountains.

Jerry's not going to let his hurt feelings over getting cut by the Diamondbacks keep him from attempting to make a stadium-load of money on Douglas Ranch.

After all, one of the partners in the 35,000-acre project includes the man who just replaced him as Diamondbacks boss -- Jeff Moorad.

E-mail, or call 602-229-8445.

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