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MARLINS TICKET HOLDERS FILE SUIT; ADVERTISER PULLS SPOTS
Published May 19, 1998
Two Marlins season-ticket holders yesterday "filed lawsuits seeking reimbursements," and one of the club's original sponsors said it was "canceling advertisements for the rest of the season," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The separate class-action lawsuits were filed by Miami chiropractor Octavio Fernandez and Palm Beach attorney Henry Handler in reaction to Friday's payroll- cutting trade with the Dodgers. Each suit seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages. Meanwhile, Emilio Cruz, President of two Miami stores, Miami Shoes and Wilderness Country, said that he would "immediately pull his stores' advertising" that appears on JumboTron at Pro Player Stadium, as well as during Marlins broadcasts on SportsChannel FL and WQBA radio. Cruz: "Our customers have been complaining. They ask, 'What kind of organization is this that you're supporting?' It hurts us in terms of image to continue advertising with the Marlins. Why would we support something that's not supporting the community?" Cruz's two stores are in the final year of a three-year deal. The company pays $150,000 for two JumboTron ads per game, $100,000 this season for ads on SportsChannel FL's Marlins and NHL Panthers telecasts, and $70,000 for ads on WQBA (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19). Huizenga Holdings spokesperson Stan Smith shrugged off the suits: "What will they think of next?" (Alan Snel, Fort Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19). In Miami, columnist Greg Cote also dismisses the suit as frivolous: "Your ticket, and by extension your season ticket, assures you nothing, just as the previous season's result assures nothing" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/19). PR ADVICE: In Fort Lauderdale, Alan Snel examines the Marlins' PR problems and notes that "spin doctors" say the team "faces a stiff test" in trying to explain its moves. Marlins VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Ross: "The biggest challenge is to educate people on what's going on. We can't rely on anyone doing that for us." FL-based Communications Group President Ray Biagiotti: "They need to be very clear and honest with the media. The public is forgiving as long as you provide accurate information" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19). I.L. ON THE D.L.: As part of their organization-wide cost-cutting measures, the Marlins will not field an Instructional League team this fall (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/19).