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It's Time to Talk to Wayne


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Dave Hyde article

Dave Hyde

It's time to talk with Huizenga

Published December 10, 2005

 

Sometime soon, Marlins president David Samson and some Major League Baseball official will talk with H. Wayne Huizenga regarding a new stadium deal beside Dolphins Stadium. And, unlike how they've been acting of late, here's how Samson and Major League Baseball should walk into that meeting:

 

On their knees.

 

With heads down.

 

Asking for Huizenga's help.

 

Can anyone understand why Samson is running around the country, talking about some five-month process of fact-finding, when the best option he'll ever have is right beside his old ballpark? Does he really think he's dealing from a position of strength to put off Huizenga in this way?

 

Can he be so dense to think it's smart?

 

Through this entire Marlins fire sale, I've thought it idiotic to blame club owner Jeffrey Loria and Samson. They're the third owner to have the same stadium problem. They won a title, kept the team competitive and delivered more than this baseball market deserved.

 

But the pressure is on Loria and Samson now to investigate a deal wanting to be done. And, according to two people in the picture, Huizenga is miffed at them and baseball for not coming to him and talking seriously.

 

What, Samson can run to San Antonio, chasing a dream everyone knows won't happen, but can't find time to talk with Huizenga? How smart is that? And what's he up to?

 

There's some thought if Commissioner Bud Selig were alive this would never happen. Two days of messages into the commissioner's office got a call back from his media-relations wing with the dog-ate-my-homework message: "He's can't talk. He's traveling today."

 

And tomorrow?

 

"We'll have to check the schedule," spokesman Rich Levin said.

 

Everyone knows a proposed ballpark by Dolphins Stadium makes sense for all sides. It's the best site. It looks workable. It can make the Marlins good money. Major League Baseball doesn't want to leave here for, say, San Antonio. And having Huizenga be the savior, after all he's been through with baseball? How great a story would that be?

 

Huizenga would like an 81-event stadium near his proposed restaurants and entertainment alley that draws thousands of customers. He also would like his legacy to involve helping baseball stay rather than be the first to shoo it away. But he can't be married to a baseball park. He can scale back the other plans. He certainly has shown the big-business ability to play all sorts of reindeer games in closing deals.

 

Details are sketchy: Huizenga maybe is offering about $50 million and 15 acres for a stadium. There's maybe $138 million from Miami-Dade County. The Marlins have their rent-heavy $212 million from the failed Miami deal to throw in, plus tens of millions more since their recent fire sale.

 

For just a second, forget the on-field losses for the Marlins next year (and their over-under should be 50 games next year). Look through your new-stadium eyeglasses. Think of the off-field gains.

 

Using conservative figures, between revenue sharing ($28 million), national TV ($20 million) and local TV ($12 million) the Marlins will make a cool $60 million before forcing a single season ticket on anyone, collecting any long-term endorsement deal or even getting their cut of the soon-to-be Washington Nationals sale.

 

So that's a very conservative $60 million. Payroll will be about $15 million (and, let's face it, there's no competitive difference between $15 million and $35 million. Both signify last place).

 

You do the math. You see the difference. That's why the Marlins should call a good-news conference where Samson says, "We'll give $30 million in each of the next few years toward a stadium. On top of that, we'll contribute rent. On top of that, we'll cover cost overruns."

 

Can anything stop this from getting done? Sure, Samson has never done a deal of this proportion so he might not have the right stuff to get it done. Major League Baseball shoots itself in the cleat at every opportunity. And Huizenga might just grow tired of wondering why the Marlins and baseball aren't talking seriously with him.

 

There have been so many lame stadium proposals in the Marlins history. Now, for the first time, it looks like one could get done. If no one gets too greedy. If big-business people act reasonable. And if everyone sees it's a win-win-win proposal for all sides, starting with Samson and Major League baseball, who should stop this silly road show and sit down with Huizenga before they blow it.

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I love this piece. And I'd love Huizinga if he saved baseball in South Florida. I have nothing against the guy other than ruining my baseball hopes and dreams after the firesale. Huizinga understands that the benefits of major league baseball outweigh any losses in Miami Dolphins fandom. Which will never happen as this will always be the Dolphins town.

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I like the fact that members of the South Florida media are now starting to write about how reproachable the front office has been behaving.

 

Not to single any writer out, but I'd say Dave Hyde, for one, was almost complicit in this mess by handing ownership a blank check just two weeks ago and essentially spouting the company line that South Florida is at the core of all the team's ills.

 

I'll give him credit, though, for painting David Samson as the bad guy this time around.

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I'm still skeptical of Wayne. I suspect he's trying to get the Marlins to sign another lease similar to the one they're in now. If they can have a pretty good lease with him then I would be all for it. As far as I'm concerned, the Marlins shouldn't pay him more than rent (no percentage of parking, concessions, etc.) if they're willing to contribute $50-80 million in cash before they start buildling the project. The Marlins problem is that they're in a relatively weak bargaining position because they don't have much money. It would be great if they could say something like the following: "Here's $100 million in cold cash right now. Build the stadium. We'll pay a relatively cheap rent. We get 100% of concessions, parking, naming rights, luxury box seats, etc. Let's do this." But, since Loria is such a poor owner, he can only say, "30 million up front and rent over the next thirty years, which together adds up to $212 million in present value." Sure, it's a lot of money, but just like when you decide to buy a car or a house, the more money you can put down the better your odds.

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"I'll give him credit, though, for painting David Samson as the bad guy this time around"

 

Yes and he did it in the right context. He did not blame them for lowering salaries but rather for not getting a deal done for a new stadium. He pointed out that samaon had never done a deal this big, which is undeniable.

 

He also pointed out that the cuts may allow them to make a significant up front contribution.

 

The point he missed and every writer keeps missing is what does Wayne want for the $50 million and 15 acres. The press is making it out like he is offering it up as charity and we all know that not to be the case!

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The point he missed and every writer keeps missing is what does Wayne want for the $50 million and 15 acres. The press is making it out like he is offering it up as charity and we all know that not to be the case!

 

 

Yup, exactly. We can't really judge the FO's performance in these negotiations without knowing exactly what Wayne wants in return.

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Don't think it's a coincidence that somehow this offer got leaked to the press. Clearly the Marlins didn't do it, because all indications are they aren't even paying attention to it. Wayne knows that if he tells people "I offered millions of dollars and 15 acres of land in a great location, and they won't even TALK with me!!!", the response will be overwhelmingly in his favor. He knows he's got the Marlins by the balls, and i suspect he's trying to bully them into another bad deal using the court of public opinion.

 

That being said, I sure would love to hear something soon from the Marlins as to why this isn't a viable option. All they'd have to do is say something like "what Wayne's not telling you is what he wants in return...." The longer they stay silent, the worse they look.

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to be honest,i dont like the idea of having the stadium done in wayne territory for the simple fact that it will still be a rent.Think about this the day wayne feels he wants his land back to do whatever he wants we'll have to move our a$$ off that land,yes take the money but build it in the downtown or orangebowl or sell the damn team to someone with deep pockets

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But like Hyde says, & I've mentioned this before as well... They should also be able to chip in 20 or 30 million for the next 3 seasons while the stadium's being built since the team payroll is so small. Instead of a 50 or 60 million payroll, keep it at 20-25 million and put the rest into the stadium.

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Guest FlummoxedLummox

But like Hyde says, & I've mentioned this before as well... They should also be able to chip in 20 or 30 million for the next 3 seasons while the stadium's being built since the team payroll is so small. Instead of a 50 or 60 million payroll, keep it at 20-25 million and put the rest into the stadium.

 

The Marlins, I'm thinking, aren't looking at it like that. To them, that extra 20-30 million has already been spent; they used that money the last three years trying to field a competitive team. I'm pretty sure that they don't see it as surplus, but as a means to recoup their losses.

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Guest Moneyball

Why does everyone assume Wayne will ask for a rediculous amount of money from concessions, parkin, etc.? Isn't he going to make back most of that 50M with his Dolphintown plan?

 

Come on people think for a second. Wayne knows his lease is a major reason why the team wants a new stadium, he's not going to ask for a similar lease in exchange for the land and money.

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Why does everyone assume Wayne will ask for a rediculous amount of money from concessions, parkin, etc.? Isn't he going to make back most of that 50M with his Dolphintown plan?

 

Come on people think for a second. Wayne knows his lease is a major reason why the team wants a new stadium, he's not going to ask for a similar lease in exchange for the land and money.

 

Because Huizenga is already making money on his ventures. The Marlins don't represent his only option to building Dolphintown. He's never helped the Marlins before and surely won't unless they offer him a $1 for his 80?. He probably sees the Marlins as hopeless.

 

Huizenga's men have been on drive to leak their proposals to the press to win the battle of public opinion and put pressure on Loria. They've mentioned why it's been a good offer and why it's a deal they don't understand why the Marlins can turn down. And in none of those copius amouns of details leaked was there mention of relaxing the lease terms.

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Guest Moneyball

Why does everyone assume Wayne will ask for a rediculous amount of money from concessions, parkin, etc.? Isn't he going to make back most of that 50M with his Dolphintown plan?

 

Come on people think for a second. Wayne knows his lease is a major reason why the team wants a new stadium, he's not going to ask for a similar lease in exchange for the land and money.

 

Because Huizenga is already making money on his ventures. The Marlins don't represent his only option to building Dolphintown. He's never helped the Marlins before and surely won't unless they offer him a $1 for his 80?. He probably sees the Marlins as hopeless.

 

Huizenga's men have been on drive to leak their proposals to the press to win the battle of public opinion and put pressure on Loria. They've mentioned why it's been a good offer and why it's a deal they don't understand why the Marlins can turn down. And in none of those copius amouns of details leaked was there mention of relaxing the lease terms.

 

No Marlins. No Dolphintown. He won't make any money off 8-12 events a year on his property.

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Other sports, either professional (soccer, minor league hockey) and/or amatuer (FIU and FAU; youth and community). Shopping malls. Outlet stores. Amusement parks. And so on.

 

What Huizenga wants is something to bring people and businesses to his property. The Marlins don't represent his only option. Even then, he may not consider the Marlins in the position to be catered to.

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to be honest,i dont like the idea of having the stadium done in wayne territory for the simple fact that it will still be a rent.Think about this the day wayne feels he wants his land back to do whatever he wants we'll have to move our a$$ off that land,yes take the money but build it in the downtown or orangebowl or sell the damn team to someone with deep pockets

 

 

and what exactly did you think the ob site stadium would have been? as you put it, a rent.

 

the marlins would have had to pay rent to the city of miami.

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Guest Moneyball

But which one of those options gives him 30,000 on his property on 81 dates a year?

 

Minor league hockey came to Miami and left halfway through the season last year. Any minor league sport will not survive in Miami.

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Guest Moneyball

None of the above, including the Marlins. Not at that location. Not with a team with restricted revenues.

 

The other options open to Huizenga aren't that far off from what 81 dates of Marlins baseball will bring to the table.

 

 

Again why would he scare the team off with a bad lease when he's going to make a boatload of money off the team indirectly ?

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But like Hyde says, & I've mentioned this before as well... They should also be able to chip in 20 or 30 million for the next 3 seasons while the stadium's being built since the team payroll is so small. Instead of a 50 or 60 million payroll, keep it at 20-25 million and put the rest into the stadium.

 

The Marlins, I'm thinking, aren't looking at it like that. To them, that extra 20-30 million has already been spent; they used that money the last three years trying to field a competitive team. I'm pretty sure that they don't see it as surplus, but as a means to recoup their losses.

 

Yeah, good point...

 

 

and RFerry's probably correct about Wayne. He'll start with the most favorable deal for him as possible because the Marlins aren't exactly dealing from a position of strength. Wayne's pretty much in the driver's seat.

 

He can start with: "Oh attendence is poor because you need a roof? Here's a stadium with a roof, same lease."

 

Now obviously the lease is the big problem, not the roof. But as far as negotiating a deal, he can start with the same lease & work from there. Maybe he keeps $ from parking but gives them full revenue inside the stadium, etc, etc.

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None of the above, including the Marlins. Not at that location. Not with a team with restricted revenues.

 

The other options open to Huizenga aren't that far off from what 81 dates of Marlins baseball will bring to the table.

 

 

Again why would he scare the team off with a bad lease when he's going to make a boatload of money off the team indirectly ?

Maybe they don't think they're scaring them off or that it is the right time to approach them (thinking they're hopeless as I said)?

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Guest Moneyball

None of the above, including the Marlins. Not at that location. Not with a team with restricted revenues.

 

The other options open to Huizenga aren't that far off from what 81 dates of Marlins baseball will bring to the table.

 

 

Again why would he scare the team off with a bad lease when he's going to make a boatload of money off the team indirectly ?

Maybe they don't think they're scaring them off or that it is the right time to approach them (thinking they're hopeless as I said)?

 

If no cities were lining up to acquire the team the Marlins would be hopeless. But as we've heard as many as a half a dozen cities are after the Marlins. They are by no means desperate.

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