I recently read a great piece in The New York Times by Ken Belson called What $1.2 Billion Buys in Miami: For Baseball, a Major Distraction. In the article, Belson describes the situation around the Marlins’ sale, stadium, and future. The All-Star Game is being hosted in Miami and therefore it is a perfect time to discuss the Marlins franchise.
Prior to owning the Marlins, Jeffrey Loria was the owner of the Montreal Expos. He sold the team after failing to get a new stadium built in Montreal. The selling was overseen by the then Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig and John Henry. At that time Henry owned the Marlins and in turn sold the Marlins to Loria. Henry then went on to buy the Red Sox. The following year, in 2003, the Marlins won the World Series. Since then the Marlins haven’t been back to the postseason.
Under Loria’s watch the team has gone down hill, with no help from their owner. By 2012, Loria finally got the new stadium he was looking for and from city of Miami and Miami-Dade County. The deal ultimately consisted of the city and taxpayers funding the overwhelming majority of the project with the team taking away 100% of the profits of the stadium.
Now, six years later, after the sell off of numerous players, having one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball, and drawing the fewest fans in the National League, Loria is selling the team for an estimated $1.2 Billion dollars (cut down from the $1.8 Billion previously). Loria will walk away receiving as much as 8 times more than he paid Henry for it. In 2013, Forbes stated that the Marlins were worth an estimated $520 Million. To top it off, if the sale happens after March, the city will receive zero percent of the sale, instead of the 5% they are promised now.
While the sale of the Marlins and the money Loria will receive is enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth, it may be the right move for the Marlins. They need an owner who cares about the team and the city. The deal that Loria made with the county for the stadium was no help to the community around the Marlins. Teams need to see the community as a part of the team, not as a way to line the owner’s pockets. They need to work simultaneously together, with the baseball team helping to build the community, because really baseball is nothing without its fans and the community they are located in.
The Marlins deserve an owner that cares about the future of the team. Loria has notoriously traded away great players to keep payroll down. In November of 2012, the Marlins completed a 12-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in an “effort to keep payroll down”. While it is understandable to no longer be able to compete with large market teams for all-star players, there needs to be investments in other places as an exchange, such as the farm system.
In the end, the trade of the Marlins will be the best thing for the team and their fans. Derek Jeter should team up with the city of Miami for his bid of the Marlins. This way Miami would become a part owner of the team. The future of the team and the community would be intertwined and what’s best for the team, its city and its fan are all in sync. Plus, I can’t imagine Derek Jeter not caring about how successful his team does. As for Jeffrey Loria, Rob Manfred should keep him out of baseball for good.