A Floridian Farce: Plenty of blame to go around for Marlins’ empty cupboard

The Marlins are a study in reckless unaccountability and naked profiteering. To boil this down to Jeffrey Loria however, is myopic. Look at all the actors, and note that he is just the easiest scapegoat.

Over the next several days, I’ll highlight the various actors in a few installments.

From left: Marlins team President David Sampson, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, MLB Commisioner Bud Selig, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Marlins' new stadium.

Miami-Dade County

The Marlins’ year old ballpark cost $634,000,000. I only included the zeros for gravitas, as it is usually written as 634 million. I believe showing the zeros makes the number more real somehow. It makes the massive size of the investment clearer. And it makes one think of doing calculations to figure out how baseball teams can afford to build such expensive facilities. They could afford it, but don’t tell Miami.

The City and county combined to cover 80% of the costs. That means the Marlins paid $126,800,000 for their new home. At the start of the 2012 season, their yearlong payroll was $111,598,000. That number would be slashed dramatically before season’s end, but we’ll get back to that. The Marlins allocated $16,598,000 more for their brand new facility than they did for their roster at the beginning of 2012.

On their current cable television deal, the Marlins started things off with a $40,000,000 signing bonus, paid up front in 2005. The rates for the years 2006-2009 are not available in the only financial statements that have been leaked. Annual rates grew from $13,208,000 in 2010, totaling $172,525,000 through the final year of the deal, 2020. Based on the figures listed in the Marlins’ financials from 2008 & 2009, a reasonable estimate for the years 2006-2010 would approximate $46,000,000. The Marlins cable deal alone will net them more than $250,000,000 by 2020. That amount is their take before a ticket is sold, a car is parked, or a dime is collected from Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing program, from which they have collected many times before. And since the new stadium will be only ten years old, they will probably stay beyond that date, meaning they will get a new (presumably wealthier) cable deal before the stadium is done being paid for.

The city of Miami and Miami-Dade County jointly took on a bill for $507,200,000 to help the poor needy Marlins. This was done under the guise of economic multiplier effects, job creation, and various other easily skewed metrics doctored by those who want Miami to believe that a new stadium for a Major League Baseball team will make Miami more economically robust than it was with the old stadium. When Miami Dade County approved the deal, the mayor ended up being recalled in the most dramatic recall election ever, with Mayor Carlos Alvarez voted out of office by 88% of recall voters. Before he was ousted, Alvarez issued nearly $500,000,000 in bonds to help the city defray the costs from constructing the Marlins’ new home. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the bond issue, specifically whether financial data was misrepresented by the Marlins or Miami-Dade County.

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