Miami Marlins: How Packers public ownership model could save fans from Loria


The solution to the Marlins problem is community ownership. Jeffrey Loria is the ‘Bane’ of  existence for many fans and there seems to be no clear way of seeing that he will ever correct his misled ways, or even sell the team.

Loria asked and received $640 million dollars from the City of Miami to build Marlins Park and the franchise has done nothing with their promise to Miami-Dade county tax payers, which was that the new park would revitalize Little Havana, bring more fans to the games, and field a competitive team.

Sure they spent money in the winter of 2011 – signing Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and hiring Ozzie Guillen to steer the ship. That experiment quickly failed and led to yet another “market correction.” 

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The winter of 2014 took much the same shape as the winter of 2011 – Giancarlo Stanton signed the biggest contract in North American sports history – they also signed Christian Yelich to a solid long-term deal, but all of this was surrounded by a bevy of questionable decisions.

The Dee Gordon trade which is currently the current bête noire among a certain portion of Marlins fans and media exemplified by this very website. Gordon may very well be a very good player but was he worth trading away what the Marlins did to get him?

I for one say no.

It is a question of value and Marlins ownership doesn’t seem to understand this.

Marlins management made moves to win now and they mortgaged the future to do it. The experiment failed and the tax payers of Miami-Dade County as well as other Marlins fans are stuck with a team that has no hope of being competitive, a $640 million palace dedicated to waste and philosophy and process that is stuck in the twentieth century.

So what can be done?

Loria and Samson are ultimately the problem. Their priorities are all wrong and it seems as if that they are in baseball not to win, but to make money

How else could one explain the Mike Morse trade to the Dodgers and the fact that Marlins use the Dodgers and Yankees as a way to subsidize their payroll? 

Marlins ownership makes the team actively less competitive and works against the main interest of its fans, disregarding what it promised the City of Miami or Miami-Dade County. At the moment they’re little more than thieves who happen to own and run a baseball team.

I have been mulling this idea around in my head and have come to only one reasonable solution.

The City of Miami has to buy the team and sell shares in it like the Green Bay Packers.

This article from Mic proves it. Even Newt Gingrich called for it in response to the Donald Sterling controversy a few years ago.

The Green Bay Packers model, where there is no single owner to meddle in the baseball personnel side, is ultimately the best solution for a franchise that has been historically beset by so many questionable personnel decisions regardless of if they came from the owner’s office.

Aug 3, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive back Micah Hyde (33) practice during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers are undeniably one of the most prestigious and successful franchises in the NFL and players genuinely seem to want to play in Green Bay despite all of the obvious drawbacks.

The Packers have a President and CEO that has ultimate decision making power over business and football decisions. The President is elected by the stockholders who are more often than not residents of Green Bay themselves. This obviously is no guarantee that the elected president will act with the best interest of the stakeholders in mind but he better if he wants to stay on the job.

Public ownership is also interesting because it works to make the stakeholders more involved and interested in the success of their own franchise. The Packers are seen as much more than a just football team they are seen as integral part of the culture and civic life of Green Bay.

Currently, the fans, the people of Miami, and the residents living around Marlins Park are alienated from their team. They don’t see them as source of joy but just as a mistake and problem that is better left ignored.

What is also intriguing is that in the act of buying the team from Loria and then selling shares to the public the City of Miami stands a possibility of recouping some of the losses incurred in funding Marlins Park. The Marlins are currently worth $650 million dollars, second to last in franchise value next to the Tampa Rays at $625 million.

Aug 4, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder

Yoenis Cespedes

(52) rounds first base after hitting a single during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Most IPOs even one as unique as the one I’m proposing are done by setting a certain stock price and a limited number of shares usually dictated by the what the Market could bear.  I don’t see any reason why the City of Miami couldn’t stand to make a profit from a Marlins IPO.

Finally come the politics of it. The Marlins Park deal is unpopular and Loria and Samson are not exactly beloved. Anyone running for mayor of Miami-Dade County with this as one of the primary planks on their platform would have a huge signature piece to run on and could make themselves very popular to a certain voting bloc. Running Loria out of town would be a universally supported idea.

There is no guarantee that this plan would make the Marlins competitive, given all of the other circumstances faced by a small market team, but it would be a start. The new leadership would have to go to using analytics as using a way to close the gap, but at least the corrosive influence of Loria would be gone.

I for one can’t wait for the public option to come.

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