It is every sports fans’ dream to own their favorite franchise and for Marlins fans, this dream can now come true, for the small sum of $1.7 billion.
Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria is reportedly feeling out the market with his $1.7 billion price tag in mind, a far cry from the $675 million mark that Forbes has the team valued at, which puts the Marlins 29th out of 30 in terms of franchise value.
Since the infamous fire sale of 2005, the idea of Jeffrey Loria selling the Marlins has seemed ideal for some Marlins fans. The oft-criticized owner has been ridiculed for his reluctance to spend money. Loria’s frugality has led to several fire sales, league-low payrolls and as a result, empty seats. Simply put, Marlins fans just don't trust Jeffrey Loria anymore.
When the Marlins completed their $515 million dollar stadium in 2012, many expected a new era of Marlins baseball to follow. The signings of free agents, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle surrounded the Marlins with a level of excitement that not been felt since their World Series victory nearly a decade prior. The Marlins were finally receiving the national recognition that the local fans had desired for so long and as a result, the Marlins averaged over 27,000 fans a game, numbers that hadn't been seen since the mid-90s.
The buzz surrounding the Marlins franchise would not last long as Jeffrey Loria would pull off a fire sale which was to many, the last straw. The Marlins would ship Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck all to the Blue Jays, essentially un-doing everything they did in the offseason 8 months prior. Possibly the most alarming part of all of this was the fact that every contract was heavily backloaded. The backloading of Reyes and Buerhle’s contracts suggests what the plan may have been all along: Spend some money, backload the contracts and if it didn't immediately work out, jump ship. As a result, free agents have been reluctant to accept the Marlins backloaded contract offers, which also lack no-trade clauses, per team policy. With Jeffrey Loria’s history of cutting ties with newly acquired players, and the teams reluctance to give out no trade clauses, high profile free agents have been turned off by the idea of signing with Miami, something the team struggled with mightily this offseason when they targeted both Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.
Marlins fans would not be the only people who felt cheated though: Miami tax payers also felt like they were conned. Though not without opposition, Miami Dade County ultimately decided to aid in the construction of Marlins Park. With construction needing to be paid for, Miami-Dade county borrowed nearly $400 million by selling bonds to Wall Street, a figure that is expected to rise to roughly $2.4 billion over the next 40 years, which makes it safe to say Jeffrey Loria is not only unpopular with baseball fans.
Ultimately, Jeffrey Loria’s lofty price tag will not be met, but the art dealer’s newfound willingness to sell gives Marlins fans a glimmer of hope. In the past, Loria has shown a strong reluctance to part with his profit machine, receiving inquiries from the likes of Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison and politicians, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. The stigma that comes with having an owner like Loria has cast a shadow over the Miami Marlins for a decade plus, and a sale of the team may be just what the organization needs to find some sorely needed consistency.