SBD/September 28, 2011/Franchises

Ozzie Guillen's Move To Marlins Would Make Him The New Face Of The Franchise

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Guillen could be face of Marlins when team opens new ballpark next year
The Marlins today announced Ozzie Guillen as the team's new manager, and the franchise is "about to have the big-name manager they have craved as they head into their new stadium" next season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The White Sox released Guillen from his contract Monday night, and the Marlins are reportedly going to give him a four-year, $16M contract. The Marlins "desperately wanted a marquee man to manage their team, one that can help market their revenue-challenged team," and Guillen is "about to become the star of the South Florida show" (SI.com, 9/26). In Miami, Israel Gutierrez writes the Marlins are bringing in a "man who will immediately take the title of largest sports personality in town, and it won't even be close." Hiring Guillen is the "most glaring signal the Marlins can offer to show they're willing to not just spend to improve their on-field product, but that management is willing to change its ways if it means creating a winning product." Paying Guillen $4M annually "would signal that the purse strings will be loose now that the new stadium is set to open." Gutierrez: "You wouldn't think the Marlins are naive enough to believe Guillen alone is going to draw fans once the new stadium has lost some of its luster. So you would assume that major on-field personnel moves would follow" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/28). In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino writes Guillen "is the right man at the right time for this Marlins franchise." Berardino: "I'm not sure his name alone is enough to pack the Marlins' new ballpark after next season. ... But I'm pretty confident Guillen ... will do what it takes to make the Marlins relevant again, both on the field and off" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/28).

WELL WORTH THE RISK: ESPN’s Bomani Jones said fans will "have more interest in the Florida Marlins than they have, even with two World Series,” with Guillen joining the team. He instantly makes the Marlins more "relevant moving into this ballpark. ... You put him there, they have something to focus interest on around that team. And he can manage" ("Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN2, 9/27). SportsNet N.Y.’s Marc Malusis said Guillen “is going to raise the Q-level for the Marlins going into a new stadium” ("The Wheelhouse," SportsNet N.Y., 9/27). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said Guillen will “put people in there, fannies in the seats. He’ll make money, which is all he said he cares about” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/27). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez wrote signing Guillen is a "risk, no doubt, but it's a risk worth taking." Gonzalez: "The Marlins are all about creating a buzz, generating interest and ultimately selling tickets in this stage of the franchise's existence. And Ozzie, more so than any other manager, can help do all that" (MLB.com, 9/27). Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Todd Hollandsworth said, "They’re saying, 'We want to make this guy the face of our franchise.' How many managers out there today are truly the face of their franchise? Typically it’s a player. ... The community is going to rally around him, and they’re going to love him” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 9/27).

BUSTING THE BUDGET
: In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi reported the Marlins "plan to look at top free agents this winter as they tinker with their roster," and the team is "poised to have a franchise-record payroll next year." The team would not disclose the amount, but a source said that it "could be nearly twice its present $58 million." Marlins President David Samson is "encouraged that season-ticket sales are ahead of their budgeted pace." While Samson did not disclose any figures, he said that "many new customers have never attended a game at Sun Life Stadium." He added that the Marlins are "seeing increased group sales from Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast as well as the Florida Keys and Naples." Meanwhile, Samson said, "The whole organization views the new ballpark as having a honeymoon period of about five innings in the first game. So, in order to keep fans coming from Year 1 to Year 30 is a combination of game-day experience and on-field performance" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/27).
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