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Commentary: Team is packing its bags


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Not surprisingly there isn't much support from the PB Post:


Commentary: Team is packing its bags

By Greg Stoda


Palm Beach Post Columnist


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


MIAMI GARDENS ? A threat, regardless of how reasonable its presentation, is still a threat.


In fact, the legitimacy of a threat is what gives it heft.


This is what it looks like when patience runs out.


The Florida Marlins have received permission from Major League Baseball to pursue relocation. Team owner Jeffrey Loria, in a statement, and team President David Samson, in person, tried to explain Tuesday afternoon ? right there in their dysfunctional Dolphins Stadium home ? how they aren't seeking leverage to get a baseball-only facility in South Florida.


They can call it whatever they want, but semantics don't matter.


"No longer can baseball in South Florida be assured," Samson said.


Now, really, does that require much interpretation?


So, the Marlins will continue playing in Dolphins Stadium under the terms of the current lease while entertaining offers to move elsewhere. Under no conditions will they sign a lease extension. They insist they'd prefer to remain in South Florida forever and will do so for at least a couple of more years, but a stadium of their own, complete with a retractable roof, remains at the heart of the matter.


All the Marlins have done is go public with their dirty not-so-little secret. They'll go wherever they can get a playground constructed on financial terms they find agreeable. It could be in Las Vegas or Portland, Ore., or San Antonio or Charlotte, N.C., or Pickacity, USA, but the Marlins' future almost certainly is somewhere other than where they currently exist.


Samson said Loria was willing to put up $212 million on a $420 million Orange Bowl project, plus covering cost overruns, but still couldn't broker a deal. It was the state of Florida's fault, the city of Miami's fault, or both, the Marlins say.


Samson said the franchise at one time was "very close" to getting a deal done. Which raises the question: If that's true, and Loria already had made a significant investment in the team, then why wouldn't he bridge the final gap, estimated to be $30 million at the time of fracture? Samson's reply was that no matter the depth of the Marlins' involvement, they never could get "a final yes" from governmental partnership.


Well, then, the definition of "very close" is a matter of opinion, isn't it?


Samson's head perhaps was spinning from some of the zany proposals he has heard through the years ? a dot-com wagering enterprise and a Don King offering struck him as especially comical ? but he can't say a deal almost was consummated when it wasn't.


He called it an unspeakably sad day for ownership, but also seemed relieved about having finally dropped the charade of promise in South Florida. Nor should anyone in the Marlins' front-office complex be blamed for being excited about the possibilities in, say, Las Vegas, given what's about to happen in these parts.


"We will have a payroll that matches revenues," Samson said. "The fiscal insanity is over."


What he calls "a significant market correction" is corporate-speak, meaning "nobody's going to recognize most of the Marlins come next season."


The team is in the earliest stage of dismantling itself. The economy dictates such action. The Marlins chased dreams as best they could the last two years after winning the 2003 World Series. The past season's $65 million burden resulted in a second consecutive 83-79 record, which is a shining example of mediocrity and a lousy return on an investment.


Samson's estimate is that Loria has lost in excess of $80 million through four seasons of Marlins' ownership.


The fans simply haven't shown up in the numbers the Marlins deserved and needed to survive. And the attendance figures almost certainly will decline as the Marlins put a team of reduced talent on the field.


Loria has had his fill. He's unwilling to do anything more. He hasn't run out of money, but he has run out of desire. Time, apparently, runs out next.


"We were not successful," Loria said in the statement.


Anybody who's surprised by the situation hasn't been paying attention. The issue involving a stadium has been around almost since the time the Florida Marlins became the Florida Marlins, and nothing has changed. It has always been more about posturing and politics than anything else.


"No more fake deadlines or real deadlines," Samson said.


Only perfect, that. All those fake deadlines meant a real deadline never existed. Until now. And when now rolls around on that kind of time frame, it's almost always too late.


"This is not a threat; it's reality," Samson said.


It's both.


So, everybody start waving good-bye.



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A blurb from the Sun-Sentinel....


Marlins threaten to move team


By Sarah Talalay


Posted November 22 2005, 3:12 PM EST


MIAMI -- Unable to reach a deal to build a stadium in Miami, the Marlins have been granted permission to explore relocation outside South Florida, Marlins President David Samson said Tuesday.


While Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would prefer to remain in South Florida, Major League Baseball has agreed to allow the team to look elsewhere, Samson said.


"It is very clear to us there will not be a baseball stadium in Miami," Samson said.


Samson said Loria will not sell the Marlins and will not sign an extension to remain in Dolphins Stadium beyond the 2010 season.


"We will not sign an extension even if offered to stay in Dolphins Stadium," Samson said. "We simply need a baseball-only facility."


The Marlins' lease with Dolphins Stadium runs through the 2007 season that includes a series of one-year options through 2010. Under the team's lease with the stadium, the Marlins receive only percentages of concessions, parking and sponsor signage.


Samson also said the team's payroll will reflect its revenue.


The Marlins and Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement Monday night on a trade that would send Josh Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP, and three-time All-Star Mike Lowell to Boston for three prospects.


Marlins star first baseman Carlos Delgado, who is owed $48 million over the final three years of the deal he signed last offseason, likely is the next departure.




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