At last, the much-maligned Marlins fans got some positive news on Monday morning. Jeffrey Loria announced that he had reached an agreement with Miami Heat owner and Carnival Cruise owner Micky Arison to sell the Miami Marlins for $680 million – $100 million more than Forbes Magazine’s recent valuation of the team.
Pending league approval, which could happen as soon as the last week in April, Arison will enter the baseball market, hoping to built an MLB dynasty much the same as he has in the NBA.
“Really, truly, I never had any intention to do this,” Loria explained to reporters softly on Monday morning. “You all know I love owning this team, and I intended on owning it until I was put in the ground. But when Micky and I began talking, and he made an offer…you know, I’m 72 years old, and it’s just time. I couldn’t be selling to a better person.”
Instantly, the sale of the team, though not yet completed, boosted ticket sales. Loria mentioned to reporters that the team had sold 16 season ticket packages Monday morning alone – not a huge number, but a big jump for just a few hours.
“Look, I know I’ve been much-maligned in recent months,” Loria continued, “but you have to believe my intentions were pure. This was never what I set out to do.”
Following the closing of the sale, Loria will owe both the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County some money. According to the terms of the ballpark deal, Loria will owe 7.5% of his profits, which the city and county will split. Taking into account his $158 million investment, that means the two entities wil split about $39 million.
Once the sale is complete, and Arison is installed as owner, he will have a sports monopoly the likes of which have not been seen in south Florida since Wayne Huizenga. The Heat are the hottest commodity in basketball, and the Marlins will almost certainly have a new-found interest level with an owner who is willing to spend at all costs to win.
“Owning a Major League Baseball franchise is a dream of mine. This team is going to be one of the best in baseball, and the Marlins and the Heat will make South Beach the sports capital of the world for decades to come,” Arison told reporters.
Less than 24 hours before the announcement of the sale, the Marlins announced that young pitching phenom Jose Fernandez would start the year in the rotation. The team has certainly been making headlines for the right reasons this week, as opposed to the headlines it made over the winter.
Surely, with Arison as owner, there will be many more positive headlines to come.