Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Massive Marlins Firesale After Debuting New Stadium

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria blames market economics for his massive firesale of premier talent.  Star pitchers and hitters all shipped off for minor-league prospects.  Some may pan out, but fans who expect a winner are tearing up talk radio, ripping the deal.

The year is 2005, and Loria implies the trading of Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado, and Paul Lo Duca are because the city of Miami simply won't buy him a new stadium.

"I know it's hurting Mr. Loria," Lo Duca was quoted after his trade. "He wants to win so badly, but with no stadium, he is doing what he has to do."

Fast-forward to 2012, and Loria is selling the farm again.  Although, this time, Loria can't blame league economics: he cut a deal, promising to spend more after MLB balked at how much he was pocketing from revenue sharing.

And of course, Loria can't blame a stadium stalemate since he got his new stadium, primarily paid for by taxpayers.  Sure, the SEC launched an investigation into how he may have bamboozled the city, county, and state into coughing up the money, but businessmen don't get rich by giving in during tough negotiations.

Speculation is Loria is trying to thin out the team's financial committments in order to sell the team.....for a handsome profit, no doubt.  Why?  Because that's what businessmen do when they have an opportunity to sell high.

The Marlins drew 27,400 last year - one of MLB's smallest first-year draws for a new stadium in decades.  There's little doubt the sophomore campaign will see a drop.

Additionally, Loria has bulked up the value of his team with a new stadium and new logoed merchandise.  There's no better time to sell - if he can find someone who is willing to buy high.

One caveat is Loria will have to pay the local municipalities 18% of profits from a sale if he sells before 2018.  But that could be chump change....

Now, what should Rays fans take from this episode?

Maybe nothing.  Maybe Loria will re-invest the values he gets through trades and build a dynasty that will reward South Florida for a decade.  And the Rays may one day get a new stadium reaping similar rewards.

Or, maybe it's a lesson that that baseball remains a business.  And when a businessman has an opportunity to increase his bottom line - regardless of whatever perceived obligation he has to a community - he is going to opt for the profits.

Time will tell on all accounts.

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