SBD/19/Franchises

MARLINS TICKET HOLDERS FILE SUIT; ADVERTISER PULLS SPOTS

          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).

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