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Does This Franchise Have A Future in South Florida?


CantCatchMe
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I think the biggest off-season issue is whether we will continue to have baseball in South Florida. I have been reading about the situation in Montreal, and the circumstances, while not exactly the same, are nonetheless frightening.

 

In particular, it appears that Loria was accused of deliberately making moves that killed attendance and therefore jeopardized the existence of baseball in Montreal. He was accused of doing that to build up the justification for the Expos to be moved to the US. Here's part of a report on the lawsuit:

 

In their 44-page complaint, the limited partners contend, "(Loria) and his co-conspirators engaged in a scheme that had as its object the destruction of baseball in Montreal, so that Mr. Loria and his co-conspirators could justify relocating the franchise to the United States."

 

They accused Loria and his staff of conduct "that effectively destroyed the economic viability of baseball in Montreal (that) included removing the Expos from local television, subverting well-developed plans for a new baseball stadium in downtown Montreal, purposefully alienating Expos' sponsors and investors, abandoning agreed-upon financial plans for the franchise, and undermining a planned recapitalization of the franchise that would have added new Canadian partners."

http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/0715/1406068.html

 

One guy's review of the parallels between the Expos and the Marlins under Loria said:

 

What?s the saying ? you?re supposed to learn from our mistakes and not supposed to repeat history (or at least the decisions we?d rather not make again)? That may be true for most people, but it certainly doesn?t apply to Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. Loria is about to repeat an error in judgment in made in 2001 when he owned the Montreal Expos. Loria?s previous faux pas ultimately led to the demise of the Expos and the same blunder likely will lead to the death of the Florida Marlins. Once again, Jeffrey Loria the Major League Baseball franchise killer is up to his old tricks.

 

...

 

The parallels between what has taken place in Montreal and what is happening in South Florida are so similar it?s almost scary.

 

Loria gutted the Expos roster of any major league talent, cutting the teams? payroll, making the team nothing more then a glorified Triple-A baseball franchise playing Major League Baseball. The Marlins somehow won the 2003 World Series, with Loria and Samson running the franchise. While the Marlins are contending for the National League wild-card playoff position this year (how they ?earned? their way into the 2003 playoffs), Loria and Samson as they did in Montreal ,cut all of the players who brought Miami its second World Series title in 2003, slashing the teams? payroll to $15 million this year.

 

The mark of Jeffrey Loria?s ownership style -- the Marlins received more then $30 million in MLB revenue sharing this year, with little if any of that money being directed back into the Marlins on-field product. With the Marlins contending for a playoff spot, the team did nothing at the July 31 MLB trade deadline to improve their playoff position. What message did Jeffrey Loria send to South Florida?s business community when he stood ideally by and did nothing to enhance his business? Did that help or hurt the image of the Marlins?

 

The Florida Marlins are destined to join ?Loria?s Attendance Hall of Shame? by the end of the current baseball season. The Marlins are dead last in MLB attendance by only managing to fill 38.1% of Dolphins Stadium. When Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez pitched the first no-hitter in the Majors since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game on May 18, 2004 last week, the announced attendance was a shade over 12,000. Various media reports pegged the actual crowd at around 5,000. Throughout the three seasons Loria ran the Montreal Expos (1999 through 2001) the Expos where at the bottom of Major League Baseball attendance ? Loria?s MLB business history repeating itself.

...

 

 

There is little if any political backing in South Florida to offer any taxpayer support for a Marlins stadium. Loria was facing an uphill battle when he arrived in South Florida, after dumping the Expos on his fellow MLB owners. If Loria stood any chance of getting a stadium agreement in place, the last thing Loria needed was to have his most visible employee (his stepson), the teams? figurehead, and the president of his MLB franchise, go on radio and try and be ?one of the boys?. Not only might Samson cost Loria important political support, but any private support. Once again, as was the case in Montreal, Loria and Samson have alienated potential political and corporate support, key factors in securing the capital needed to build stadium(s).

 

The downtown Miami stadium site isn?t the only potential location for a proposed Marlins Stadium. The Marlins are negotiating with Miami-Dade County and the city of Hialeah to finance a stadium in a section of western Hialeah west of I-75 and east of Florida's turnpike between Northwest 170th and 154th streets. Representatives of the team, county and city are to meet with MLB officials in South Florida on Sept. 28 to discuss that plan.

 

It remains to been seen if Jeffrey Loria has the ability to part the red seas and secure the needed pubic and private funding he needs to build a baseball stadium in South Florida. However, Jeffrey Loria and David Samson business acumen (or lack thereof) will likely lead the Florida Marlins to the same place they led the Montreal Expos ? the graveyard of dearly departed sports franchises. History repeating itself ? Jeffrey Loria the Major League Baseball franchise killer, about to repeat history!!

 

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited in this Insider Report: The South Florida Sun Sentinel and Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.sportsbusinessnews.com/_news/news_350437.php [bold-face emphasis added]

 

 

At this point, my view is that what a fan may consider to be the destruction of a franchise is the flip side of an owner's maximizing the value of his investment. I'd like your comments on this, not to judge whether Loria's actions are right or wrong, or to bash his critics, but to find out how many on this board think Loria is engaged in a repeat of his tactics in Montreal, which, by the way, arguably worked to achieve his alleged goal.

 

It seems that actions to drive down attendance (whether deliberate, through incompetence, or as a necessary result of deep payroll cuts) are supposed to be part of the M.O. The Marlins have never before been last in MLB inattendance, have they? And the actual count of "bodies in seats" this year has been abysmally low. Montreal went from a history of achieving over 2,000,000 per year in attendance several times, to the famously empty stadium we often saw on ESPN during the final years of the Expos.

 

So, do you think the Marlins will stay in South Florida absent a large taxpayer subsidy for a new stadium?

 

Do you think there is any chance of such a subsidy being approved?

 

Do you think Loria is deliberately acting to harm the franchise with the incredibly low payroll (which seems to have depressed attendance despite the team's better than expected performance)? If not, how do you explain it?

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So, do you think the Marlins will stay in South Florida absent a large taxpayer subsidy for a new stadium?

 

Do you think there is any chance of such a subsidy being approved?

 

Do you think Loria is deliberately acting to harm the franchise with the incredibly low payroll (which seems to have depressed attendance despite the team's better than expected performance)? If not, how do you explain it?

 

#1 - No team can play without a stadium. If the issue isn't resolved they will go. I believe it will be resolved though.

 

#2 - Yes

 

#3 - No. Attendance has always been low and their deal has always sucked. We have a huge stadium and we've never had such big attendance even right before or after the playoff and winning the WS. Just the playoff games. There are a lot of factors involved in that also, that have nothing to do with the payroll.

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1.) I think the Marlins will stay in So Fla because they wont relocate and they wont be contracted. They already tried relocation and failed. They couldn't get a better deal anywhere else and MLB wont let a bad owner move a team from a big market to a small market. They wont be contracted because the Union wont allow it. I think eventually MLB will lose patience with Loria's foot dragging on the stadium and will buy him out and then will sell to an owner who can get a stadium deal done. I think the owners have grown tired of giving a team in a big market $30+ million a year in revenue sharing.

 

2.) The county is already putting money in.

 

3.) Loria will make about $35 million in operating profits this year and that will be tops in MLB. This year he was about making big $$$ and he'll succeed.

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What is his motive for killing all of these franchises? Money?

 

He won't earn that much doing this.

 

 

 

I don't know what the motive is supposed to have been, but the actual result in Montreal was indeed a boatload of money for Loria, according to the Washinton Post. While clearly Loria did well financially, much of it seems fortuitous, rather than designed, to me. But I only know what I read; the allegations may not be true:

 

Most believed Loria would have jumped at the chance to move the Expos to D.C. or Northern Virginia. "I think he always had his eye on Washington," said a baseball executive who worked closely with him. But that was out of the question. Around baseball, Loria's brief ownership was already viewed with disdain. He had quickly alienated his Montreal partners, which included some of the most influential businessmen in Canada. His stepson, Samson, was widely regarded as abrasive and disrespectful.

 

The former MLB official said DuPuy, Selig's closest adviser, told him more than once that the chances of Loria getting Washington were nil.

 

According to the former official, DuPuy conveyed the message, "It'll be over Bud's dead body before he lets that [expletive] have Washington."

 

DuPuy denied speaking pejoratively about Loria, with whom he said he had a good relationship. But he said the "sentiment" was accurate.

...

As the owners moved forward on contraction, Loria was systematically assuming total control over the Expos, the team in baseball's crosshairs.

 

Loria's plans for the Expos were unclear. When he bought the team, the deal included a critical second step in which Loria would put up an additional $38.8 million toward a new downtown ballpark.

 

Before the 2000 season, though, he had failed to negotiate a new local television deal and alienated sponsors. Plans for the ballpark evaporated. At the first meeting of the new partnership, Loria's chief financial officer, Joel A. Mael, stunned the limited partners by announcing a possible capital call -- a demand for cash to support operations.

 

Loria was an absentee owner, commuting from New York while Samson, his then-31-year-old stepson, ran the team. A former private wealth manager at Morgan Stanley with no previous baseball experience, the 5-foot-5 Samson grated on the limited partners, one of whom pushed him into a wall during a meeting. He came to be known around the Expos' offices as "Little Napoleon."

 

Soon, Loria and the limited partners were at war. After Loria issued a cash call on March 17, 2000, they staged what amounted to a coup. They told Loria they would give him back his $12 million if he would step down.

 

"They basically put a check on the table and said, 'Bugger off,' " said a source familiar with the meeting. Loria instead initiated another series of cash calls. If the limited partners failed to come up with the money their shares in the team would be diluted. Within 17 months Loria had gone from owning 24 percent of the Expos to more than 93 percent.

 

Asked why the partners failed to meet the cash calls, their lawyer, Jeffrey L. Kessler, said, "All they knew was that this was a destroyed team" run "by a general partner who they thought was totally out of control. . . . It was impossible for any sane investor, and Loria knew that." The move gave Loria the power to do basically whatever he wanted with the team.

...

Baseball struggled to find a way to placate Loria and shut down two teams. The process began to resemble real-life Monopoly, with baseball's powerbrokers bartering teams behind closed doors, unbeknownst to their millions of fans.

...

As with most teams in line for contraction, the need for a new ballpark was the central issue in south Florida. Henry, who bought the club in 1998, had tried unsuccessfully for three years to get public financing. On April 25, 2001, Selig wrote a letter to the Florida legislature warning that the eight-year-old Marlins would be moved or eliminated if no stadium was secured. "Bluntly, the Marlins cannot and will not survive in south Florida without a new stadium," Selig wrote.

...

As baseball shuffled its deck of clubs, Loria found himself holding a flush. Spring training was weeks away. Henry's purchase of the Red Sox was predicated on selling the Marlins. After weeks of negotiation, baseball paid Loria $120 million -- a 900 percent return on his original Expos investment -- plus a $38.5 million loan tied to several conditions, including Loria's ability to get a stadium in south Florida.

[comment by CantCatchMe: I believe that MLB loan will be forgiven soon if there is no stadium deal]

 

On their way out of Montreal, Loria and Samson stripped the franchise. With them went computers containing scouting reports on every Expos player, dozens of signed home run balls, even life-size cutouts of the team's former superstar right fielder, Vladimir Guerrero. The Expos' limited partners, meantime, became unwitting owners of 6 percent of the Marlins. In July 2002, they filed a racketeering suit in U.S. District Court in Miami. It charged Loria, Samson, Selig, DuPuy and the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball of illegally conspiring in what the suit called an "Expos Elimination Enterprise."

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/artic...-2004Jun27.html [bold face emphasis added]

 

By the way, does anyone know what happened to the law suit by the ex-partners?

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By the way, does anyone know what happened to the law suit by the ex-partners?

 

Yes in fact I do.

 

They were laughed out of court. Both the arbitration committee and the court found their case was completely without merit, they were responsible for their own undoing and the Toronto Globe and Mail, in an in-depth series on what had transpired, surmised that having failed miserably on their own, the litigants brought Loria in to be their "fallguy" (the word used by the G&M, Canada's most prestigeous newspaper).

 

And BTW, wrong again on the loan forgiveness. The loan is not to be forgiven, but reduced and the difference pledged against future profits.

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One of the reporters at Fox reviews the issue:

 

Loria first infected Major League Baseball in 1999, when he purchased a minority share of the erstwhile Montreal Expos. However, over the years, Loria proved to be more saboteur than steward. On his watch, the Expos failed to negotiate a television contract or an English-language radio contract, allowed a lease on land set aside for a new ballpark to expire, nixed the long-standing practice of giving free tickets to sponsors, exploited a clause with his partners that allowed him to increase his ownership stake and fired the boundlessly adored Felipe Alou as manager. And then Loria had the gall to wring his hands over why no one would come to see the team play. It all smacked of orchestration, to say the least.

 

So with the viability of baseball in Montreal now called into question, Loria sold the team to MLB. In a "stunning" coincidence, this was just about the time that commissioner Bud Selig was angling to contract the Expos and Minnesota Twins. You'd think that a ham-fisted owner like Loria, who ran baseball to seed in a city that once was feverish for its hometown nine, would be expelled from the ranks of ownership. However, that's not what happened. MLB promptly approved Loria's bid to purchase the Florida Marlins and even floated him a $38-million, interest-free (!) loan to do so. There was certainly the whiff of quid pro quo.

 

Loria's job in Florida was to agitate for a new stadium and, if need be, do his now-familiar Dr. Kevorkian act on the team if the locals refused to fork over their tax dollars. The threat was a time-tested one ? he'd move the team if South Florida didn't lavish him in corporate entitlements. After all, $15 million of that $38-million loan would be forgiven if Loria failed to secure a new ball yard on the public dime. That means his fellow owners ? the one's on the hook for that loan ? would have incentive to approve a franchise shift for the Marlins.

 

That haphazard World Series title in 2003 temporarily gummed up Loria's efforts to extort, but that didn't prevent him from executing a massive sell-off of talent following the 2005 season. The sell-off, of course, was really a warning shot to the voters who were reluctant to pay for Loria's new stadium. Then, the flirtation, courting and rumor planting ? de rigueur for an owner hoping to uproot his team ? stole the Miami column inches. Las Vegas? San Antonio? Charlotte? New Jersey? Perhaps the adoring locals would be chastened the next time a referendum appeared on the ballot.

 

...

 

At this point, fans of the Marlins should say good riddance to Loria if he persists in his threats. As for where he next takes his act, a healthy supply of cynicism and perhaps an epidural or three are the best ways to cope. Baseball with Jeffrey Loria or no baseball at all? Think carefully before you answer that question.

 

 

Dayn Perry is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com and author of the new book, "Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones" (Available now at Amazon.com).

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/5872156 [bold-face emphasis added]

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I would say by now everyone here knows Dayn Perry as a bonafide Marlins/Loria hater. If you're going to look for a source to back up your allegation, there have to be more credible ones than Brittain and Perry.

 

Even the most ardent Loria basher would have to look at this piece, which has been posted here before, with scrutiny. Haters are haters, regardless of the subject, ethnic, religious, sports, lifestyles, I think most of us wouldn't want to associate ourselves with them.

 

You might notice that, for example, where the Washngton Post article only mentions Loria's original $38.5 million investment in the franchise, they omit, whether consciously or because of incompentence, the money, roughly $80 million more he invested of his own money when the partners stopped meeting their cash calls, and funds were needed to keep the team going. Those are the kinds of facts, when missing, suggest the writer has an agenda rather than an editorial purpose grounded in accurate journalism.

 

Or can anyone think someone who calls the 2003 World championship "haphazard" after the way Beinfest (I will for the moment ignore Loria's financial contribution to get Pudge and bring in Jack) played out his chess game, making move after move to improve the team and their chances, especially in the face of guarantees from Gammons and virtually every other talking head that the Marlins would be sellers in 2003?

 

You can dislike Jeffrey Loria. Hate him if you want. But at least be accurate. Neither Perry or Brittain try to do that, nor do people who use either as sources for their criticisms.

 

The findings of both the arbitration committee and the court are a matter of public record (as are the original lawsuits and their allegations, and each side's pleadings, but pleadings and allegations shouldn't be confused with findings of fact).

 

I suggest you read them in their entirety before continuing down this road.

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Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think the reason why the payroll is low (and why it will continue to be low, which is pretty easy with pre-arbitration players) is to give the club extra time to build support for a stadium as well as mull their options if a stadium in South Florida does not come about.

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Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think the reason why the payroll is low (and why it will continue to be low, which is pretty easy with pre-arbitration players) is to give the club extra time to build support for a stadium as well as mull their options if a stadium in South Florida does not come about.

 

 

I get the impression that he is going to set up a series of rebuilding cycles. Run with your talented team until it would cost more than $70mil to maintain, then rebuild. The reason why the team went all the way to $15mil, is that there was no greater prospect for being competitive at $35mil, so may as well get as much talent as possible.

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I get the impression that he is going to set up a series of rebuilding cycles. Run with your talented team until it would cost more than $70mil to maintain, then rebuild. The reason why the team went all the way to $15mil, is that there was no greater prospect for being competitive at $35mil, so may as well get as much talent as possible.

 

Actually I think that's a pretty sound observation.

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