SBD/12/Franchises

WHEN FISH HIT "ROCK BOTTOM," WILL FANS KEEP SMILEY-ING?

          Marlins President Don Smiley "expects the team to hit
     rock bottom," according to his "confidential business
     prospectus" to investors obtained by Alan Snel of the Fort
     Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL.  He projects that the team's '99
     average attendance will hit a team-low 13,500 from a
     projected 21,000 in '98, while season-ticket sales will drop
     from the current 14,000 to 7,500 as the team cuts its
     payroll to $16M.  With the plan, Smiley is "pinning the
     Marlins' future in South Florida squarely on the team's
     ability to win a taxpayer-subsidized ballpark for the 2002
     season."  Snel writes that with a new stadium, team revenue
     "supposedly will soar in several categories" by 2002.  Total
     team revenue will jump to $114.1M from $61.8M in 2001, and
     ticket revenue would increase from $23.4M to $53.5M, in part
     due to an increase in average ticket prices.  The team is
     projected to average 40,000 per game in 2002, up from the
     23,000 in 2001.  Smiley writes in his business plan that in
     2002, a new stadium would generate $16.4M, including $4.9M
     in advertising, $4.6M in luxury suite sales, $3M in naming
     rights and $2.4M in ticket surcharges (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/12).
          LEYLAND ON A JET PLAN? In Miami, Edwin Pope writes the
     Marlins would lose manager Jim Leyland if Smiley conducts a
     major rebuilding process.  Leyland: "Don Smiley knows I
     wouldn't want to be here if we had a team with a $12 million
     payroll.  I don't think any manager would want to go through
     that" (Edwin Pope, MIAMI HERALD, 5/12).

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