SBD/Issue 112/Facilities & Venues

Marlins Ballpark Deal Includes Death Clause That Alters Payout

If Miami City Council Approves Ballpark
Agreement, County Commission Then Will Vote
Miami-Dade County in the pending ballpark contract with the Marlins "demanded a cut of the profits" if Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria sells the team within seven years, but if Loria, 68, "dies in those seven years and the team is sold, the public's equity in the team is wiped out," according to Dolan & Rabin of the MIAMI HERALD. As part of the clause, which is "buried deep inside the hundreds of pages" of the contract, if one of Loria's relatives inherited the club and then sold it, the heir would "get the money otherwise destined for government coffers." In that case, local taxpayers would "lose the only direct financial return on their 81[%] investment" in the ballpark, parking and public-works project. County spokesperson Victoria Mallette said, "The intent was to ensure Jeffrey doesn't flip and get rich quick. If he dies that doesn't happen. We weren't playing tit for tat on individual issues." Miami Mayor Manny Diaz through a spokesperson said the clause was a "technicality," and noted that "even if Loria dies, it doesn't necessarily mean the team would be sold within seven years." Marlins President David Samson indicated that Loria "insisted on the clause." But Samson added that the "debate is much ado about nothing ... because he expects Loria to outlive the clause's term." Dolan & Rabin note city and county officials in Minnesota and DC recently "demanded the so-called 'flip tax' when they build new stadiums, but neither included a death clause." If the Miami City Commission approves the ballpark agreement in a March 6 vote, the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote on March 9. When told about the death clause in the contract, County Commissioner Joe Martinez, a "potential swing vote," said, "That sucks" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/27).

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