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Charlie Berger has been a Colorado Rockies fan since before he knew what the team’s name would be.
“I remember when expansion happened, and we found out we were going to have a major league team from Colorado,” says Berger, now the co-owner of 10-year-old craft brewery Denver Beer Co. “And when Eric Young hit that very first home run, on the very first at-bat by a Rockies player in the state of Colorado, I was in the stands.”
But more often than not his devotion to the Rockies has left him disappointed. “We should’ve won a National League West title just by dumb luck at this point,” he says.
That’s why Berger launched a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $1 billion to purchase the team from its primary owners, Dick and Charlie Monfort. (Forbes currently values the Rockies at $1.3 billion.) “I think a billion dollars and a bank loan probably gets the deal done,” he says. “GoFundMe seemed like the vehicle to have all the fans vote with their dollars. Let’s go make an offer.”
I, myself, am a near lifelong Rockies fan, and when I first heard about Berger’s campaign, I thought it sounded noble. It seemed like a good way to needle the Monforts for trading a generational talent like Nolan Arenado away for pennies and for being generally inept when it comes to roster management. I am also not on board with boycotting games. I didn’t get to go to Coors Field last summer, and anyone who thinks fans of teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals aren’t still going to fill that place—and, thus, the Monforts’ pocketbooks—hasn’t been paying attention for the past 27 years.
But Berger couldn’t seriously think he was going to pull this off, right?
“It’s gonna happen,” he says. “It’s 100 percent likely.”
He’s trying to reach the $1 billion goal by May 1. As of Tuesday afternoon, 92 people had given a total of $4,276 to the effort. Most of the donations were around $10 to $20, but one person did pledge $1,500.
“Not only do the Monforts need to go, but they need to take that so called GM, Jeff Bridich, with them,” wrote one of the commenters on the fundraising page.
At the very least, the effort will help the Denver community in some manner. No matter how much money Berger raises, he plans to submit an offer to the Monforts. If they refuse it, Berger says he will give the donations to local nonprofits that support the hospitality industry, which has been hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think people get it,” Berger says. “By putting a few bucks into this you are really supporting our city. But we might also get some real serious championships out of it.”
If his grand plan works, how will Berger right the ship?
“The first thing we do is fix that minor league system, because our team is pretty weak there, too” Berger says. “But we really want a lot of ideas from a lot of people. We want a lot of engagement from Rockies fans. Every good idea is welcome.”