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WHEN FISH HIT "ROCK BOTTOM," WILL FANS KEEP SMILEY-ING?
Published May 12, 1998
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).