Pesadilla is the Spanish word for nightmare and a feminine noun. For Miami Marlins fans, pesadilla is a particularly accurate description for having our MLB team owned by a Manhattan bred arts dealer who made his bones running Expos out of Montreal. But this nightmare is likely coming to an end soon, since selling the team now constitutes Jeffrey Loria’s best option.
While I believe selling the team makes business sense, personal factors also point to a sale. Being the Marlins owner in 2013 appears to be a miserable use of septuagenarian millionaire’s time. This without even considering potential health issues and whether his spouse–on whom he appears to have about a quarter-century of life head start on–has an opinion about being married to a locally despised figure.
In addition, the Non-Relocation agreement’s penalty for early sale is not significant enough to deter the sale. The additional amount due the County if the team is sold between now and the next operational phase [April 2014], would be around $2 million — assuming a sale price of $450 million — or roughly the equivalent of what a typical Babalao would earn for not managing your team for one season.
Business reasons to sell sooner rather than later:
- No factors which would increase that the value of the franchise over the next few years. The ballpark was a great success, with potential parking and traffic issues proving to be manageable in the 1st year. The expected significant increase in national broadcast contracts would already be factored into any sale negotiation.
- No long-term, heck, no commitments period on the team’s payroll. A team paring down salary for profit, would still have keep at least one of their free agent signings for appearances sake if nothing else. When they all were shipped out, that’s how ‘dead’ owners roll.
- Attendance – The Marlins drew 2.2 million in the new ballpark and that figure is widely described as both inflated and disappointing for a 1st year stadium. However, Guillen’s Castro comments stifled enthusiasm that the Marlins should have enjoyed at the beginning of the season. Despite that, the Marlins averaged 28,988 during the 1st half of the year [thru July 1st] when their record was at 38-40 — average attendance ended up at 27,400 for the year. Soon afterwards, the trades of Ramirez, Sanchez and Infante signaled that ownership had given up on the season. The point is that a case can still be made that MLB in this market is *viable, in comparison with overall MLB attendance. Owning the team past the coming season, could begin to undermine that argument.
- Ballpark naming rights – Untapped revenue source without the Joe Robbie Pro Land Shark Tank association as of yet.
- Scrutiny over payroll – Between 2006 and 2010, the Marlins effectively refuted Milton Friedman’s admonition about there being ‘no free lunches.’ Revenue Sharing monies were pocketed, unencumbered by any MLB restrictions or professional ethics. More attention is guaranteed this go around.
- Giancarlo Stanton – If the team is sold in the near future, the prospects of keeping a Stanton would at least go back to 50/50. It would be hard to imagine any potential buyer not wanting to have an opportunity to keep Stanton.
*What is a viable average attendance figure
- OK, so what is a viable [pertaining to fan interest, not revenue] average attendance past the first year? I took a stab at that back in 2009. Based on the past 5 years attendance, I would argue that averaging at least 23,800 shows that a team has enough fan interest to place it just above the bottom rung of MLB attendance.
- Between 5 and 11 teams in each of the past 5 seasons have averaged under 23,800 a season.
- 3 teams have been under 23,800 figure 5 out of the past 5 years: Kansas City [stadium built 1973], Oakland [stadium built 1966] & Tampa Bay [stadium built 1990]
- 2 teams have been under 23,800 figure 4 out of the past 5 years: Cleveland [1994 stadium] & Miami [2012 stadium, avg 27,400 in 1st year]
- 3 teams have been under 23,800 figure 3 out of the past 5 years: Baltimore [1992 stadium], Pittsburgh [2001 stadium] & Toronto [1989 stadium]
- 2 teams have been under 23,800 figure 2 out of the past 5 years: Seattle [1999 stadium] & Washington [2008 stadium -- Nationals drew 2.3 million that 1st year as compared to the Marlins 2.2 million in 2012]
- 4 teams have been under 23,800 figure 1 out of the past 5 years: Cincinnati [2003 stadium], Houston [2000 stadium], San Diego [2004 stadium] & Texas [1994 stadium]
I say viable average attendance is 23,800. What say you, as in give me a number.
That adds up to 14 out of the 30 MLB teams that have been below the 23,800 figure at least once within the past 5 years. I hereby unofficially label 23,800 the threshold for a reasonably supported MLB franchise. You disagree, fine, give me a number. The Marlins exceeded the 23,800 level 4 out of their first 5 seasons at Joe Robbie. It is obviously doable, just not with the current ownership who have proven to be unworthy of our support.
The Sun Sentinel’s Dave Hyde column is titled “Time to ship Loria out of town, too.” Hyde has consistently called out the dishonest manner in which Marlins management — Jeffrey Loria and David Samson — operate.
The Miami Herald’s Dan Le Batard makes a compelling argument for why there can be no trust in Marlins management. Unfortunately, many of the Marlins lies over the years have been spoken by David Samson on Le Batard’s radio program, unchallenged. In one case, after the Deadspin financials were released, I thought Samson’s lies were so obvious and pathetic, that they would come to be seen as shameful. I was wrong. But I just had to document anyways. [click here].
ESPN’s David Schoenfield makes the case that determining whether Miami is a good baseball town has been sabotaged by radioactive ownership.