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Marlins' makeover troubling for baseball

 

By PAUL HAGEN

 

hagenp@phillynews.com

 

 

DALLAS - South Florida, according to every official pronouncement of Major League Baseball, is still considered a strong and viable market, fully capable of supporting the Marlins.

 

And that's what makes it so hard to understand exactly what's going on in that little corner of commissioner Bud Selig's empire.

 

Not many people remember this, but Montreal was once a thriving baseball city. What changed? Ownership wouldn't or couldn't keep the best players once they reached a point in their careers when they were on the cusp of making real money. Stars that fans had become attached to were either traded or allowed to depart as free agents. Repeat that enough times and almost any city will become disenchanted and alienated.

 

The Marlins won the World Series in 1997. That was followed immediately by a payroll purge that turned the team into a glorified Triple A club. Owner Wayne Huizenga was demonized for the move, which he said was necessary because an ungrateful populace had refused to build him a fancy new stadium.

 

Eventually, the Marlins came back. They won the World Series again in 2003 and, on paper, probably had the best team in the National League East last season but underachieved. The logical reaction would be to fine-tune the roster to try to get back to the playoffs.

 

Instead, owner Jeffrey Loria has demanded that salaries be slashed. He has, instead, sent Josh Beckett, Carlos Delgado, Mike Lowell, Paul Lo Duca, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota packing. That has trimmed some $35 million in 2006 commitments from the ledgers. Juan Pierre and Ron Villone could be next out the door.

 

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories floating around the airy atrium lobbies of the Wyndham Anatole regarding the Marlins.

 

They are simply using this to underline their demands for a new stadium. That's the view that Loria was selling to reporters who cover the Marlins earlier this week. "If we got our stadium deal, we'd go right back to the other way. Period," he said. "A signed stadium deal. You guys know I'm not out here to lose games. I want to win. I've said that."

 

Or...

 

Loria is perfectly aware that he's poisoning the well, that these moves will kill attendance now and maybe for years to come. But he doesn't care because his real goal is to relocate the franchise to San Antonio, Las Vegas, the Meadowlands... anywhere he can get a sweetheart deal.

 

Or...

 

In the short run he cares more about making money than anything else and, by cutting the payroll to the bone, he can actually show a handsome profit through the revenue sharing he will receive. Of course, that's money that small-market teams are supposed to use to help them become competitive.

 

Or...

 

With the moratorium on contraction scheduled to expire at the end of the upcoming season, he's just hanging on for 1 more year and then will accept a big settlement to fold up his tent.

 

Or...

 

Once the sale of the Washington Nationals is completed, for at least $450 million, Major League Baseball will take over the Marlins and run the team until it can find a buyer and make another windfall profit.

 

All of this is more than a passing curiosity to the Phillies. For the past few years, the Marlins were a team to be reckoned with in the division. Now they will be just a shell of what they have been.

 

"I think it's terrible," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said. "You've got two teams in our division that, if you're a fan, would be very difficult to follow. One [Florida] can't get a stadium. The other [Washington] is still waiting to get its ownership in place.

 

"There are a lot of positive things happening in baseball right now, but these are two bad situations. Of course, throughout the history of baseball, there have always been a few teams in peril. There were the St. Louis Browns. A few years ago, the Minnesota Twins were struggling."

 

Late yesterday afternoon, A.J. Burnett stood on a podium and was introduced as the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched for the Marlins last year but, after he became a free agent at the end of the season, the Fish made no attempt to re-sign him. The Jays gave him a 5-year, $55 million deal.

 

Asked about his former team, he just shook his head. "I'm glad I'm not down there anymore," he said. "Fire sales are always tough. I feel for the guys who are down there."

 

Major League Baseball still claims that South Florida is a terrific market.

 

At this rate, it won't be much longer.

 

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/ba...ll/13346467.htm

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Attendance and team competitiveness are not necessarily signs of a franchise's success

 

 

:lol :lol You crack me up. They're not necessarily the ONLY signs of a franchise's success, but they're certainly important.

 

well if attendance is any factor we are a complete and total miserable failure.

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Attendance and team competitiveness are not necessarily signs of a franchise's success

 

Its so easy for people like you who live out of state to point fingers and be all uppity giddity about all this but the article is right on.

Loria is a horible politician. We saw that in Canada already and now he is doing it again.

You can't take trips out to Vegas being sly and then have this bad faith firesale. Its just so damn wrong

 

 

Marlins' makeover troubling for baseball

 

By PAUL HAGEN

 

hagenp@phillynews.com

 

Not many people remember this, but Montreal was once a thriving baseball city. What changed? Ownership wouldn't or couldn't keep the best players once they reached a point in their careers when they were on the cusp of making real money. Stars that fans had become attached to were either traded or allowed to depart as free agents. Repeat that enough times and almost any city will become disenchanted and alienated.

 

The Marlins won the World Series in 1997. That was followed immediately by a payroll purge that turned the team into a glorified Triple A club. Owner Wayne Huizenga was demonized for the move, which he said was necessary because an ungrateful populace had refused to build him a fancy new stadium.

 

Eventually, the Marlins came back. They won the World Series again in 2003 and, on paper, probably had the best team in the National League East last season but underachieved. The logical reaction would be to fine-tune the roster to try to get back to the playoffs.

 

Instead, owner Jeffrey Loria has demanded that salaries be slashed. He has, instead, sent Josh Beckett, Carlos Delgado, Mike Lowell, Paul Lo Duca, Luis Castillo and Guillermo Mota packing. That has trimmed some $35 million in 2006 commitments from the ledgers. Juan Pierre and Ron Villone could be next out the door.

 

There are all sorts of conspiracy theories floating around the airy atrium lobbies of the Wyndham Anatole regarding the Marlins.

 

They are simply using this to underline their demands for a new stadium. That's the view that Loria was selling to reporters who cover the Marlins earlier this week. "If we got our stadium deal, we'd go right back to the other way. Period," he said. "A signed stadium deal. You guys know I'm not out here to lose games. I want to win. I've said that."

 

Or...

 

Loria is perfectly aware that he's poisoning the well, that these moves will kill attendance now and maybe for years to come. But he doesn't care because his real goal is to relocate the franchise to San Antonio, Las Vegas, the Meadowlands... anywhere he can get a sweetheart deal.

 

Or...

 

In the short run he cares more about making money than anything else and, by cutting the payroll to the bone, he can actually show a handsome profit through the revenue sharing he will receive. Of course, that's money that small-market teams are supposed to use to help them become competitive.

 

Or...

 

With the moratorium on contraction scheduled to expire at the end of the upcoming season, he's just hanging on for 1 more year and then will accept a big settlement to fold up his tent.

 

Or...

 

Once the sale of the Washington Nationals is completed, for at least $450 million, Major League Baseball will take over the Marlins and run the team until it can find a buyer and make another windfall profit.

 

All of this is more than a passing curiosity to the Phillies. For the past few years, the Marlins were a team to be reckoned with in the division. Now they will be just a shell of what they have been.

 

"I think it's terrible," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said. "You've got two teams in our division that, if you're a fan, would be very difficult to follow. One [Florida] can't get a stadium. The other [Washington] is still waiting to get its ownership in place.

 

"There are a lot of positive things happening in baseball right now, but these are two bad situations. Of course, throughout the history of baseball, there have always been a few teams in peril. There were the St. Louis Browns. A few years ago, the Minnesota Twins were struggling."

 

Late yesterday afternoon, A.J. Burnett stood on a podium and was introduced as the newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched for the Marlins last year but, after he became a free agent at the end of the season, the Fish made no attempt to re-sign him. The Jays gave him a 5-year, $55 million deal.

 

Asked about his former team, he just shook his head. "I'm glad I'm not down there anymore," he said. "Fire sales are always tough. I feel for the guys who are down there."

 

Major League Baseball still claims that South Florida is a terrific market.

 

At this rate, it won't be much longer.

 

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/ba...ll/13346467.htm

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I'm not going to say these problems haven't gone a long way in keeping fans from the ballpark. It's always been my contention that for the Marlins to build a franchise they have to focus on the youth who grew up in South Florida and know the Marlins as their only team. Obviously the mistakes have soured some of that potential fan base away from the product.

However the excuse is becoming a crutch. And is not going to save you in the end. Potential can only last so long.

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In any case, whether the South Florida fans are bad fans or that it was the Marlins' owners have sprayed salt on the ground or circumstances out of their control haven't allowed them to put in place the right marketing approach, this isn't the market any team is willing to stay in forever if means also being Huizenga's and the local politicians' play thing.

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In any case, whether the South Florida fans are bad fans or that it was the Marlins' owners have sprayed salt on the ground or circumstances out of their control haven't allowed them to put in place the right marketing approach, this isn't the market any team is willing to stay in forever if means also being Huizenga's and the local politicians' play thing.

 

 

Well, of course no team will be willing to stay in So. Florida forever. That's a given. But 12 years and two firesales suggest to me that the market has not been given a chance. If we got another owner, got the stadium built, and the Marlins' marketing machine does a better job of reaching out to fans (particularly fans in Dade County) I think you would see a rather strong fan base.

 

You have to remember that Dade County is full of Latin baseball crazy fans. The Marlins right now just don't know how to market to that potential fan base. As an example, look at what the Mets are doing in NYC right now. They're marketing heavily in the Latin community, specifically the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. And they're doing a damn good job. I went to a few games at Shea Stadium this past season and I've never seen so many Latin fans there before. And you should see how much energy they bring - they start singing and dancing and just having a great time. It almost feels like you're watching a soccer match or a baseball game in Latin America. You don't really see the Marlins going all out trying to reach out to the Latin baseball crazy fans. It's a shame.

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In any case, whether the South Florida fans are bad fans or that it was the Marlins' owners have sprayed salt on the ground or circumstances out of their control haven't allowed them to put in place the right marketing approach, this isn't the market any team is willing to stay in forever if means also being Huizenga's and the local politicians' play thing.

 

 

Well, of course no team will be willing to stay in So. Florida forever. That's a given. But 12 years and two firesales suggest to me that the market has not been given a chance. If we got another owner, got the stadium built, and the Marlins' marketing machine does a better job of reaching out to fans (particularly fans in Dade County) I think you would see a rather strong fan base.

 

You have to remember that Dade County is full of Latin baseball crazy fans. The Marlins right now just don't know how to market to that potential fan base. As an example, look at what the Mets are doing in NYC right now. They're marketing heavily in the Latin community, specifically the Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. And they're doing a damn good job. I went to a few games at Shea Stadium this past season and I've never seen so many Latin fans there before. And you should see how much energy they bring - they start singing and dancing and just having a great time. You don't really see the Marlins going all out trying to reach out to the Latin baseball crazy fans. It's a shame.

what the incompetent marlins executives fail to realize is that the latin community isnt united under baseball. dominicans love pedro and sammy. So even if they like the Marlins they will come when Sammy and Pedro play here. The colombians are fanatical about renteria. The ricans love Pudge and the venezuelans love alou and cabrera. just because they set up a store in calle ocho isnt going to gain everybodys love right away. they need somebody that knows whats going on and can connect to the residents

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I agree , but it is my contention that there is no man with access to ownership of the Marlins that has the patience to take heavy operating losses AND negotiate a stadium deal AND invest the amount of years into massaging the market to support the Marlins.

 

As for Dade County, see the last post in the last topic we had on this. Like many in their defense of PB and Broward counties, Hialeah, Orlando or my backyard, the demand is not what you make it seem. The potential fan base has limited disposable income and an abundance of otions to spend it on.

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Rferry, you're not from Dade. You don't know what you're talking about. There are a ton of baseball fans in this county, particularly the people from various Latin countries. They're big Yankees fans for the most part. The Marlins have simply not paid enough attention to them. They just haven't marketed the team well enough. If they get it through their thick skulls that marketing to this community is different than marketing to mainstream America they'll be much more successful. Loria and his crew don't understand this market and that's why they've failed to reach the potential that is there. The Mets have managed to bring out more Latin fans to games in the last year because they've made a concerted effort to do so and they've hired people that understand how that particular market works.

 

Look, the Marlins have had over 3 million in attendance before. They've gotten attendance up to the high 2 millions. The potential is there. They just have to take advantage of it. Despite low disposable income, people have shown up in the past and will do so if the Marlins do a better marketing job.

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Again, are you arguing on behalf of your constituency or what here? I think anyone will have a terribly hard time marketing to a population who have less disposable income for tickets and transportation and have many other activities nearby to consider over a team that we both know has not treated its fans very well and play their games miles away and under the constant threat of rain. Not to mention overcoming the Yankee phenomenon and father-son tradition of baseball. The county made an attempt to offer shuttle service to the games. Like most public transportation, it's probably not the best, but it's telling that the demand is not there to expand the service to weekdays or the springtime.

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Rferry, you're not from Dade. You don't know what you're talking about. There are a ton of baseball fans in this county, particularly the people from various Latin countries. They're big Yankees fans for the most part. The Marlins have simply not paid enough attention to them. They just haven't marketed the team well enough. If they get it through their thick skulls that marketing to this community is different than marketing to mainstream America they'll be much more successful. Loria and his crew don't understand this market and that's why they've failed to reach the potential that is there. The Mets have managed to bring out more Latin fans to games in the last year because they've made a concerted effort to do so and they've hired people that understand how that particular market works.

 

Look, the Marlins have had over 3 million in attendance before. They've gotten attendance up to the high 2 millions. The potential is there. They just have to take advantage of it. Despite low disposable income, people have shown up in the past and will do so if the Marlins do a better marketing job.

 

 

Ah, so there's tons of baseball fans in the Latin population and they're just dying to go watch baseball games, but Loria just hasn't "marketed to them" correctly. Because he has to give them directions to the stadium? Were they just not aware there was a baseball team here?

 

Not trying to be a smartass but I hate that argument. If south Dade is too far to drive, fine stick with that argument, but I hate that complaint about "why aren't they marketing to X more?!" There aren't any groups of fans that go enough, regardless of where they're from.

 

You would think winning would be enough. :plain

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Again, are you arguing on behalf of your constituency or what here? I think anyone will have a terribly hard time marketing to a population who have less disposable income for tickets and transportation and have many other activities nearby to consider over a team that we both know has not treated its fans very well and play their games miles away and under the constant threat of rain. Not to mention overcoming the Yankee phenomenon and father-son tradition of baseball. The county made an attempt to offer shuttle service to the games. Like most public transportation, it's probably not the best, but it's telling that the demand is not there to expand the service to weekdays or the springtime.

 

 

You market to that population and create a demand for a particular product, in this case Marlins baseball. I know a lot of people that fly up to New York or Boston to watch a few baseball games a year while only going to one or two Marlins games. The Marlins have simply failed to market the team well in this area. It's not simply a matter of offering a shuttle service to the stadium. It's a matter of marketing the right way to generate the interest.

 

 

Rferry, you're not from Dade. You don't know what you're talking about. There are a ton of baseball fans in this county, particularly the people from various Latin countries. They're big Yankees fans for the most part. The Marlins have simply not paid enough attention to them. They just haven't marketed the team well enough. If they get it through their thick skulls that marketing to this community is different than marketing to mainstream America they'll be much more successful. Loria and his crew don't understand this market and that's why they've failed to reach the potential that is there. The Mets have managed to bring out more Latin fans to games in the last year because they've made a concerted effort to do so and they've hired people that understand how that particular market works.

 

Look, the Marlins have had over 3 million in attendance before. They've gotten attendance up to the high 2 millions. The potential is there. They just have to take advantage of it. Despite low disposable income, people have shown up in the past and will do so if the Marlins do a better marketing job.

 

 

Ah, so there's tons of baseball fans in the Latin population and they're just dying to go watch baseball games, but Loria just hasn't "marketed to them" correctly. Because he has to give them directions to the stadium? Were they just not aware there was a baseball team here? Should they have changed ticket prices for the Latin population?

 

Not trying to be a smartass but I hate that argument. If south Dade is too far to drive, fine stick with that argument, but I hate that complaint about "why aren't they marketing to X more?!" There aren't any groups of fans that go enough, regardless of where they're from.

 

You would think winning would be enough. :plain

 

 

Listen, the Marlins have failed at marketing to this community. I used the Mets example because up until recently the number of Latin fans at their games was relatively small. They've bombarded the Latin community in New York with great advertising in the past year and they've come out to watch the Mets play like they never have before. I listen to the Mets advertisements on the radio all the time and I see it on TV. They advertised and those people came out. The same can be done in Miami.

 

Oh, yeah, you would think winning would be enough. But obviously that's not how it works in So. Florida. Instead of saying, geez, we win and still can't get enough people to come out, this is impossible... perhaps a better attitude would be, "we need to take a different approach here... we need to find better ways to market to this community." Again, it's only been 12 years and two firesales.

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And I'm saying it is not as easy nor as rewarding to the Marlins as you make it seem like it will be.

 

 

It's not as easy or rewarding to the Marlins because they don't have the right people taking the right approach. They need to get people that understand the market. This is where the "they're carpetbaggers" argument makes sense. Loria is a New Yorker and I would imagine many in the business side of organization are too (or at the very least they're not local). They simply don't know how to reach out to this market. They should realize that and hire some people that know the market well. Let them handle it.

 

This is exactly why I think Gustavo Cisneros would be an outstanding owner. He understands the market. He owns 12.5% of Univision, the country's 4th or 5th largest network. The approach that network has taken is that the main networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) don't know how to serve the Latin market in the U.S., even the young Latin market that grew up in the U.S. that speak perfect English. The fact that Univision has several shows on prime-time that are higher rated than many prime-time shows on the major networks show that the regular networks just don't know how to reach out to this demographic. In fact, they've had several shows that have had the THE HIGHEST rates in the entire country (Rubi's finale comes to mind). The South Florida market is simply different and Loria & Co. just don't know how to tap it. Plain and simple.

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Fine. I couldn't care less. It's not about defending a community, it's about realizing it works differently than the rest of the country. You can't market the same way to the Latin community that you would to mainstream America. Preferences are different, perceptions are different. They're not the same. If you think there is a universal way of marketing to people, continue living in a fantasy world. Any experienced businessman will tell you knowing your client or customer is incredibly important.

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There isn't a universal way, but you must admit that the market has very special circumstances to it. So much so, and perhaps its potential success irrevalent to the Marlins' bottom line that it may not be worth the effort. Despite how much you'd like to see the population take to the Marlins and the Marlins to the population.

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There isn't a universal way, but you must admit that the market has very special circumstances to it. So much so, and perhaps its potential success so irrevalent to the Marlins' bottom line that it's not even worth the effort.

 

 

Yes, and a man like Cisneros would understand the very special circumstances to it and take full advantage. Just like Univision has.

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

I just don't understand why you think that a smaller specialized population has more potential to filling up a stadium than the larger mainstream population. The team tries to market to baseball fans, not specialized markets.

 

Do we have a demographical analysis of those seasons when we drew over 3 million fans? Do we know that back then the Latin community came out to support the team more often? Or is it just that ALL fans Latin, White, Black, Scandanavian, Sudanese, Autralian, or otherwise, feel disenfranchised?

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Miami-Dade County is about 60 percent Latin. The Miami metropolitan area (most of Broward and Dade County) is about 50 percent Latin. And those percentages are growing. This isn't a smaller, specialized population in So. Florida. It's the mainstream population in this area. Let's face it, they don't call it the Gateway to the Americas for nothing. Miami is basically the capital of Latin America. If you don't know how to market to that demographic in So. Florida your business will be in deep trouble.

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