Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Reason Why Leaked MLB Financials May Work Against Rays

Just when I thought most of the dust had settled from Major League Baseball's leaked financial documents, journalists and columnists in Miami keep hammering the Marlins' front office.

Upset that the team may have misrepresented its financial situation during stadium negotiations, local leaders are seeking to amend the deal.

Conversely, here in Tampa Bay, the leaked documents added credibility to the Rays' claim that they made small profits in '07 and '08 and lost money in '09. That led to a St. Pete Times column insisting the leak would be a good thing for the team's uphill campaign for a new stadium.

However, the more I see the Miami situation unravel, the more I think the episode will work against the Rays in the long-term by making local politicians skittish.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo says the blame shouldn't be directed at the team, but Miami-Dade politicians who let them get away with it:
The Marlins simply did what every sports team — and any shrewd business — could do. They milked the public to the max. They'll pay a fraction of the overall cost yet keep nearly every dollar in revenue from the stadium, which will ultimately cost taxpayers billions in bond repayments. ...

"The Marlins aren't to blame for this," said Norman Braman, the Miami auto magnate who sued unsuccessfully to stop the project. "The fault lies with the politicians."

Politicians like Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who could have at least demanded to see the Marlins' books before agreeing to such a lopsided deal.

"If you read the depositions in the suit, you'll see they never even asked," Braman said. "Alvarez said, 'I didn't think it was necessary.'"

That's just bad business, and bad leadership.
On one hand, the now-partially-open books may improve trust between Stu Sternberg and the local leaders he's counting on for support. But on the other, any politician looking to make his or her legacy on the stadium issue has to be aware of the embarrassing situation the leaders on Florida's East Coast now find themselves in.