SBD/Issue 241/Franchises

Marlins Respond To Criticism In Wake Of Leaked Financials

Marlins Earned Reported
Profit Of $49M In '08-09

The Marlins issued a statement Saturday night in response to "criticism over their financial status," according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Leaked documents revealed that the Marlins earned about $49M in '08 and '09, "which was used to pay down debt and secure financing for a new ballpark." The team in a statement said, "While it is impossible to respond individually to all the misleading information and rumors contained in media reports related to your Marlins, the recent reports about the team's financial statements are so misleading that the record needs to be set straight. Financial statements of the team were recently released and have been widely misunderstood and inappropriately analyzed." The Marlins added attempting to "draw conclusions of a baseball team's financial health is very hard to do by only taking a cursory look at a two-year snapshot." The team continued, "Reducing the debt was and remains critical so that we can fulfill our contribution to the new ballpark. ... The reduction of debt was a critical component of the team's operation, because losses from previous years had led to excessive debt balances. This large amount of debt would have made it impossible to contribute to the ballpark's construction and would have put baseball in Miami in jeopardy. The promises made during the ballpark negotiations have all been met, and in fact, surpassed" (MLB.com, 8/28).

WHOSE TO BLAME? Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez said, "The profit wasn't so much my concern. We're putting up all the money, I want to see the finances to see can you afford this? ... Not only could they have done that, they could have put a hell of a lot more money in than they did." County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez said that he "blames county administrators, not the team, for the ballpark deal." Gimenez: "The Marlins job was to make us pay as much as possible. The administration's job was to pay only what was equitable" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/28). ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote if the Marlins are "guilty of blatantly lying to the representatives of taxpayers, then the Marlins' would-be customers -- who are footing the bill for the ballpark -- sure as hell have the right to know." The taxpayers "can't get their money back but, at the very least, they should have the right to know whether the Florida baseball franchise is operated with integrity or whether the Marlins got their public funding through deception." Olney: "Somebody in power needs to call a hearing. Somebody needs to send out the subpoenas and administer some oaths. Somebody in power needs to start asking questions. Sounds like a job for an attorney general" (ESPN.com, 8/29).

KEEPING SCORE AT HOME? In Miami, Rabin & Beasley noted the team's leaked financial documents reveal that the Marlins reaped more from MLB's revenue sharing "than the team paid for player salaries the last two years -- a disparity fueling the $52 million in operating income the franchise pocketed in that time." The Marlins received $92M in revenue sharing the last two seasons, "enough to cover the team payroll in that time with close to" $20M "left over to go toward ballpark construction or other costs." The documents also show that the Marlins "were last in concession sales and next to the bottom in television and radio revenue." In addition, the Marlins paid $5.4M in '08 and '09 to Double Play Company, whose partners include Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria and President David Samson. Samson said that "some of that money covered expenses like the hiring of architects and engineers." The documents also show that Loria collected $16M "from the team the past two years." Samson said that the money "represented repayment of a loan Loria provided the team to help with stadium costs." Samson: "The team needed money. Jeffrey lent the team money and the team has to pay him back" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/29). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde wrote, "One winner from the Marlins' finances going public last week was Forbes magazine's valuations of sports teams. The Marlins lied for years about the kind of money Forbes insisted the team was making" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 8/29).

DOUBLEHEADER: YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote Samson has "perfected the art of doublespeak," and "lies are simply part of how the Marlins do business." Loria and Samson during the Marlins' quest for a new ballpark "made statement after misleading statement and got away with it." Loria is an "excellent businessman, and he knew the repercussions." The Marlins "hoodwinked local politicians so caught up in the excitement of keeping the team in Miami, they forgot with whom they were dealing" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27). In Miami, Dan Le Batard wrote Samson is the "voice for this team on sensitive issues, and that voice can be condescending and snarky." He is "very presidential in practice, but not very presidential in presentation." Le Batard: "I can't figure it out, as fans shout and the media feeds, if the Marlins are guilty of anything other than good business and bad PR. But, in this sport, this climate, this America, are you going to trust him?" (MIAMI HERALD, 8/29).

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