Marlins Execs Predict Operating Loss For '13; Records Show $47M Deficit In '12
While the Marlins this offseason cut payroll to "produce profits, the added debt and operating costs" of the $634M Marlins Park have left Marlins execs "predicting another loss on top of last year’s team record" $47M operating loss, according to Hanks & Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The team appears to be "in the baseball equivalent of a foxhole, waiting to fight another day." Payroll is "estimated" at $45M -- with only the Astros paying less at $32M. Marlins President David Samson said that attendance "needs to increase at least a third from last year for the Marlins to afford a mid-range payroll" of $80M in the coming seasons. But Hanks & Jackson note would-be ticket buyers "don’t seem eager to forgive" Owner Jeffrey Loria for cutting costs "so quickly after occupying a stadium set to cost taxpayers" $2B over the next 40 years. Season-ticket sales have "fallen by 60 percent to around 5,000," and the Marlins "recently became the only major league team using" Groupon to sell Opening Day tickets. Records show that since Loria bought the Marlins in '02, boosting the payroll has "failed to bring the spike in ticket revenue needed to turn a profit." The records showed only when Loria "slashed player costs did the team record a cash surplus." Debt is "eating into the Marlins’ income, and that is one of the reasons the team doesn’t expect to turn a profit despite paying players so little this year." However, all teams are "supposed to see a significant boost next year from MLB’s richer television contracts." But the Marlins in the short term offer "no signs of encouragement." Samson said that the Marlins could "afford to pay a team the league average" of about $80M a year -- but only if average attendance "hovered at around 30,000 to 35,000 a game." Last year’s "tally" came in at 22,000 (MIAMI HERALD, 3/31).
DISCONNECT GROWING BETWEEN OWNERSHIP, FANS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Rodriguez & Davis noted while the Marlins are entering their 21st season, they have "yet to make a firm dent into the South Florida fabric as the other professional franchises have achieved." The Marlins have yet to "establish an identity due to constant player turnover rate." Even the "dawn of a brand-new stadium has not created the attraction needed to become a foothold in the community." Weary Marlins fans have "grown tired of the franchise's excuses to constantly discard high-priced veterans" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/31). In West Palm Beach, Joe Capozzi noted attendance at the home opener "might serve as a public referendum on how fans feel" about Loria. ESPN's John Kruk said, "If I was a fan of the Marlins I would be confused, upset and not sure I’d be willing to spend my money anymore to go watch them" (PALM BEACH POST, 3/31). In Miami, Greg Cote writes Loria "cares about winning, supposedly, but sells off his best players (again) and presents a team young and (most importantly) cheap." Samson is "what you’d expect: A loyal lieutenant to his boss and former stepfather." But he also "personifies the disconnect continuing" between the team and fans. Marlins ownership "moves forward as if fans should be so enamored of the new ballpark that the players inside the uniforms hardly matter" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/1).