The Most Hated Man In Baseball
November 12, 2011
Filed under Sports
As far as most are concerned, the Marlins are about to become one of the greatest franchises in baseball history. The Marlins have just been renamed from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. They have a new stadium, Marlins Ballpark, which replaces the outdated Sun Life Stadium that the Marlins have used since their inception in 1993. The club has a new manager, Ozzie Gullien, who took the Chicago White Sox to their first World Series title since 1917, in 2005. The club is also about to sign Albert Pujols, the three-time NL MVP, who is considered by many as the best baseball player of the generation. They are also in line to sign current NL batting champion, Jose Reyes and White Sox ace, Mark Buehrle. In short, the Miami Marlins’ future looks pretty bright. However, most of the media does not address the evil behind this rebuilding project of Miami’s baseball team.
Jeffrey Loria is the owner of the Miami Marlins. In 1999, Loria, an art dealer and entrepreneur, bought a twenty-percent stake in the Montreal Expos for $12 million – quite a bargain for nearly a quarter of a major league team- and became the managing general partner. After several owners forfeited their shares, Loria ended up with ninty-four percent of the team. After heading up a team that included the city of Montreal and the son of the Expos’ founding owner, Loria demanded a new stadium. After being unable to reach an agreement for television and English-speaking radio coverage during the 2000 season, fans became more upset over their teams ownership. After local government decided against a publicly funded ballpark, Loria decided to give up.
Loria sold the Montreal Expos to Expos Baseball, LP, a partnership of MLB teams, for $120 million, paving the way for Loria to purchase the Marlins from then-owner, John Henry, for $158.5, who in turn purchased the Boston Red Sox. The deal made the Expos a club owned by the MLB Commissioners Office, and included a no-interest loan of $38.5 million from the MLB.
Loria was able to abandon the burden of the Montreal Expos on the MLB, gain a better team, and make a profit – all off of a team that he had owned for just three years. Loria’s inability to get a deal done for English-speaking radio, television, and a new stadium, all payed off. The Expos left the Canada for good in 2004; becoming the Washington Nationals in 2005.
Loria’s new team, the Florida Marlins, won the World Series in 2003, and with a better reason this time, Loria began the search for a new stadium. The club, which payed rent at Sun Life Stadium, wanted a new stadium preferably with a retractable roof – a very pricy feature. Lacking a stadium deal, Loria traded away star players in 2005, slashing the club’s pay role even more to one of the lowest in the MLB, giving the Marlins a weak team and giving Loria a greater profit.
In August 2010, Loria and other key Marlins’ executives misled the public about their finances, claiming they could not contribute much to the building of a new stadium. A leak about the Marlins’ financial information revealed that the team had taken a huge amount of MLB-distributed money for profit. Loria and his son-in-law/Marlins president, David Samson, had insisted for several years that they could not contribute to a new stadium, due to the argument that they had been barely breaking even. The threat that they would have to move the club without public assistance – the same threat that Loria used in Montreal – convinced local government to build them a new stadium.
Marlins Ballpark, which will open in early 2012, featuring Loria’s retractable roof, a home-plate backstop aquarium, a left field swimming pool, and a home run feature in center field that will celebrate home runs via jumping marlins and shining layers. The stadium’s total cost will be $515 million, which will be payed over forty years, resulting in a final total cost of $2.4 billion. Jeffrey Loria will pay for $155 million dollars, Miami-Dade County will pay $347 billion, and the City of Miami will pay $13 million. Overall, the public will be paying roughly $1.7 billion of the stadium’s cost: roughly seventy percent.
The stadium will be run by the Miami Marlins. Despite the crazy costs covered mostly by the public, it will be used only for baseball, and roughly ninety percent of baseball being played their will be by the Marlins.
Now that Loria will have an incredible mostly tax-payer funded stadium, he does not have to hide the fact that he has a surplus of money, and he can now go out into the free agent market and sign the most expensive, best quality players that he can. Non-coincidentally, the best players happen to be three-time NL MVP, Albert Pujols, current NL Batting Champion, Jose Reyes, and ace pitcher Mark Buehrle.
Coming off of weak seasons/injuries are 2010 Cy Young runner-up Josh Johnson, former batting champion, Hanley Ramirez, 2009 NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, and 2011 NL Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Stanton. The addition of players like Pujols, Reyes, and Buehrle, would build a team similar to the New York Yankees – a high payroll team with a fancy stadium, winning record, and therefore a greater fan-base. The value of the Miami Marlins would increase very rapidly, put more money into Loria’s pockets, and give the club a more significant history in baseball.
Through skullduggery like ditching the Expos for the Marlins while making a profit, hiding money to get a new stadium, and faking near-broke to only later sign some of baseball’s best players, Jeffrey Loria has created an incredible baseball team and established himself as one of the hated men in baseball.