In order to highlight their “ballpark enhancements” and maximize revenue, the Marlins have made arrangements to bring a variety of non-baseball events to Little Havana. That will not include American professional soccer. Inter Miami, the MLS team that begins play in 2020, is now looking at alternative hosts for its inaugural season.
From president of business operations Chip Bowers (via Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald):
“We’ve had some conversations with MLS Miami and Jorge Mas and his team. Very positive. Been very diligent. Both sides, to each party’s credit, has been really focused on making sure this is the right operational fit. I think the reality is, we’ve both realized, it probably isn’t.”
That’s right: Inter Miami is partially owned by the same Jorge Mas who made a serious bid to acquire the Marlins in 2017. The Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group ultimately paid $1.2 billion. Mas pivoted to this soccer franchise and got it for a much more modest investment.
One specific concern is the overlap of the MLB and MLS schedules. In 2018, Yankee Stadium was the only venue to serve teams from both leagues.
Bowers candidly acknowledged the financial element to this. The Yankees have a “million-dollar-a-game commitment” from New York City FC to make it worthwhile, whereas the Marlins would not be able to come close to that. He also added that the quality of the playing surface may deteriorate after hosting nearly 100 combined games.
Earlier this offseason, Bowers announced that the University of Miami and Florida International University football teams will meet at Marlins Park next November. It’s the first time major college football will be played there since the discontinuation of the Miami Beach Bowl.
With or without MLS money, Marlins major league payroll is expected to increase in 2020 as the club inches closer to contending. Barring any huge free agent surprise, they will have between $70-80 million of 2019 commitments heading into Opening Day.