LA Dodgers, R/GA Launch Startup Accelerator

Years ago, it might have seemed strange for a professional sports team to be in the technology startup business -- but not any more. Other sports teams may well take a page from the Los Angeles Dodgers playbook and begin funding their own accelerator programs to encourage startups focused on media, advertising, fan experience, and other key areas of the pro sports business.

This week, the Dodgers and agency R/GA unveiled the LA Dodgers Accelerator with R/GA, which will target promising new companies fostering innovation in the pro sports business. The accelerator program will provide 10 chosen start-ups with access to the Dodgers’ industry partners and distribution channels and speed production of new products, services, brand spinoffs, and customer experiences intended to boost fan engagement -- and with it team revenues.

The start-up will be operates by R/GA.

According to the Dodgers and R/GA, the 10 companies selected to participate in the accelerator program will include both early-stage start-ups working on entirely new products and later-stage companies that have already achieved some initial success and are seeking to scale up rapidly.



Areas of focus for the start-up accelerator program include sponsor integration, fan engagement and fan relationship management, “eSports,” smart arenas, big data and analytics, fitness and youth sports, and sports training, among others.

The program is the latest in a series of combined business-civic initiatives set in motion by the Dodgers’ new owners as they seek to burnish the team’s reputation and relations with its host city. The consortium, led by basketball star-turned-business mogul Magic Johnson and former baseball exec Stan Kasten, acquired the team from the previous owner, Frank McCourt, for $2 billion in 2012.

The team’s image had suffered badly under McCourt, whose alleged mismanagement and greed had earned him various unflattering sobriquets, including “the most hated man in Los Angeles” and “the most hated man in baseball.” The new owners have been working steadily since the acquisition to repair relations with the fans and wider community.

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