Major League Baseball's All-Star Game will be played Tuesday night in Marlins Park in Miami, a stadium that taxpayers built with more than $500 million.
The main culprit in one of the worst stadium deals in American history—the stadium will actually cost more than $2.4 billion with interest by the time all the bonds are paid off sometime in the mid-2040s—is Marlins owner Jeff Loria.
Loria's not yet done fleecing fans, though. On Monday, the Miami New Times reported that the Marlins are suing some of their very own fans in order to squeeze even more money out of them.
"Loria's team is suing a fan named Kenneth Sack in Broward County to take a $725,000 building he owns in Oakland Park — all as part of the same ugly dispute that has led the team to sue at least nine season ticketholders and luxury-suite owners since 2003," the paper reports.
A professional sports franchise suing its own fans seems like a pretty good way to drive away any potential future fans, but that logic only holds up as long as you assume that Jeff Loria cares what people think of him or his team. He's made clear that he does not.
Loria bought into Major League Baseball in 1999 with a $12 million investment in the Montreal Expos. He flipped that ownership stake to take control of the Marlins in 2002. Now he is looking to sell the Miami franchise for as much as $1.7 billion—one potential buyer is former Florida governor Jeb(!) Bush, another is Ivanka Trump's father-in-law.
Loria has done well for himself, but hasn't done much of anything for the team or its handfuls of fans. In return for having the public build a stadium for the team, Loria promised to open his wallet and spend enough money to turn the always-disappointing Marlins into a contender. He did that, for exactly one season. After a disappointing inaugural season in the new ballpark, Loria held a fire sale and traded away most of the team's top line talent.
In 2012, when the Marlins opened their new park, the organization forced season ticket holders to sign multi-year, six-figure agreements. The team tossed in sweeteners like pre-game buffets and other perks.
When the team tanked and many of the promised perks were withdrawn, at least nine of the season ticket holders who tried to get out of their commitments were sued, according to the New Times.
"I don't understand why Major League Baseball continues to allow Jeffrey Loria to behave like this," says Daniel Rose, an attorney representing a former season ticketholder locked in a legal battle with the team told the paper. "At the end of the day, what is the motive to go after fans like this? It just shows their greed and a complete lack of respect for their fan base."
One one hand, it's hard to be too sympathetic towards people who willingly signed a deal with a historically mismanaged franchise owned by one of the worst executives in professional sports. On the other hand, fuck Jeffrey Loria and his taxpayer-funded "festering, silver-plated pustule, a grotesquely huge can opener, or just an obscene ode to wasted cash," as the New Times once described Marlins Park.
Loria schemed his way into a lucrative long-term investment, thanks in no small part to civic officials who bought Loria's sob stories of financial struggle. He and the rest of the Marlins' ownership claimed the club's financial records were "trade secrets" and said the team had lost money for years.
When those top secret financial documents were leaked online in 2010—they revealed the team had turned tens of millions of dollars of profit every year, largely because of Major League Baseball's revenue sharing scheme.
By putting a bare bones team on the field year after year, Loria spent less money than other owners and pocketed revenue Major League Baseball dictates must be shared among all the teams. That's a pretty good analogy for communism and ideology supposedly devoted to equality historically abused by unscrupulous, power-hungry individuals.
Local officials made a half-hearted attempt to rescind the stadium deal after the financial documents leaked but gave up. Carlos Alvarez, the mayor who signed off on the deal, was recalled by voters. The Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Loria, but never took legal action against him.
After fleecing taxpayers and suing fans, Loria is apparently determined to squeeze every last dollar out of any fan foolish enough to believe his promises. There's no doubt that, in a league full of crony capitalist owners, Loria is a true all-star.