MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Miami Marlins Owner, Baseball's Cronyism All-Star, Is Suing His Team's Own Fans

Loria is determined to squeeze every last dollar out of any fan foolish enough to believe his promises.

Pedro Portal/ABACAUSA.COM/NewscomPedro Portal/ABACAUSA.COM/NewscomMajor 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When the team tanked and many of the promised perks were withdrawn, at least nine of the season ticket holders who tried to get out of their commitments were sued, according to the New Times.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.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I assume these six figure agreements were for luxury boxes.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Miami Marlins Owner, Baseball's Cronyism All-Star, Is Suing His Team's Own Fans

    I'm sure this will ingratiate the fans toward Loria.
    Why is it millionaire and billionaire owners of sports teams expect their fans (and others) to pay for their stadiums?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Because they have, the are, and they will.

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    A lot of it boils down to civic insecurity--people are afraid they won't be looked on as a "world-class city" if they lose one of their professional sports-ball teams. Having at least one is supposed to be a mark that you live in a city that matters. The media pushes this line of bullshit, too. Witness all the hand-wringing over Los Angeles not having a football team for 20+ years, yet these same writers shake their heads that St Louis and San Diego won't need to waste billions on a Jerryworld-style sports palace.

  • JFree||

    On the bright side - Loria is indirectly responsible for breaking the World Series curse of both the Red Sox and the Cubs. Without his cronyist crap of selling the Expos to the league and using the proceeds to buy the Marlins, John Henry doesn't buy the Red Sox and the Yawkey Trust remains in charge and Theo Epstein remains a serf in some front office

    On the dark side - the league turned the Expos into the Nationals - in order to ensure that Congress can always be bought off and the anti-trust exemption can never be overturned - so 5000 or so minor leaguers will continue to play for a couple bucks an hour and taxpayers of even minor league towns will continue to get screwed by MLB owners/teams.

    On the hopefully bright side - Loria has certainly earned his place in at least six of the nine circles of hell.

  • ||

    1994 shafted the Expos.

  • ||

    After 1994 Loria and Montreal shafted the Expos. Quebec should get a second hockey team long, long before they ever get another baseball team.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "I don't understand why Major League Baseball continues to allow Jeffrey Loria to behave like this," says Daniel Rose

    Because they don't give a shit about their fans either?

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    There's nothing wrong with the professional sports leagues that some good old-fashioned franchise foldings wouldn't fix. Unfortunately, the shitty teams are propped up by TV payouts so they don't suffer the pitfalls of their mismanagement. The result has been a consolidation of top talent in a few select areas.

    Even the NFL with its strict salary cap is top-heavy--just about every AFC championship in the last 20 years or so has featured one or more of the following squads: Denver, Pittsburgh, New England, or Indianapolis. The NBA is limited to about 4 markets that players want to go. The American League East is fucking Boston and/or New York every damn year.

  • creech||

    Yet the worst team in MLB plays in the largest monopoly market. Some teams suck for years and then their high pick draft choices come through for them big time. Others use their high picks to acquire pitchers who are always on the DL or can't get their curve ball to fool anyone higher than a Double A player. And what kind of luck gets the Damned Yankees to corral a rookie who looks like the next Hank Aaron?

  • Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting||

    And what kind of luck gets the Damned Yankees to corral a rookie who looks like the next Hank Aaron?

    Just for kicks, I looked up Judge's home/road splits--not that his power stats aren't eye-popping, but 21 of his homers have come at Yankee Stadium, which is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in MLB. If he played for the Rockies instead of the Yankees, the media would be ragging on him for having Coors Field-inflated stats. Funny how that never applies to a stadium with one of the shortest fences in MLB.

  • Sevo||

    Red Rocks Baiting n Inciting|7.11.17 @ 6:51PM|#
    "There's nothing wrong with the professional sports leagues that some good old-fashioned franchise foldings wouldn't fix. Unfortunately, the shitty teams are propped up by TV payouts so they don't suffer the pitfalls of their mismanagement."

    There is a strange (to me) concept of "loyalty" among those in the 'sportin life'; you're not considered a "fan" unless you root for a team when it sucks.
    So that TV income you mention is just those who do exactly that, and if they choose to do so, I choose not to watch that sport when it's the 'usual suspects' at playoff time.
    I live in SF and watch the 9ers when they play well. You can tell the advertisers haven't been making money off of my eyes the last X years.
    Oh, and all the whining about Kaepernick? Pretty sure he's not being ignored for his grand-standing; he's being ignored because he stinks as a QB. Brady could probably go to NK and hug Young-un and still have a job.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    This is exactly the kinda guy that makes people want to eat the rich. I think most people, even all but the most hardcore progs, don't mind someone doing doing well by being useful. But it's people like this who don't add one fucking atom of value to society, and throw in the stadium subsidies and he's a net drag. This is the kind of guy that gives success and wealth a bad name.

  • Trigger Warning||

    You can't see California without...?

  • Dan S.||

    Relatives of two Republican Presidents are prominent among the potential buyers of Loria's team. What is wrong with this picture?

  • Sevo||

    The Clintons are too cheap?

  • Longtobefree||

    Lose the election, lose your revenue stream.
    Besides, too many deplorables in the stands of a baseball game.

  • creech||

    Imagine what the Miami franchise would be worth if relations with Cuba were normalized and the Havana "Sugar Kings" were awarded a NL franchise.

  • Trigger Warning||

    Bill only slaps other men on the ass to tag them out of the orgy?

  • gah87||

    Bread and circuses. Now, just circuses.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Obama's agent better get busy, good ol' Mr. Influence won't just peddle himself.

  • IceTrey||

    Loria must be a fan of "The Producers".

  • ||

    Miami deserves this, to believe this assclown and not to factor in the very public and very known (and public) revenue sharing schemes of MLB...You are just sheep for Loria to sheer or devour. I'm really wondering what idiots or well bribed city officials agreed to this, especially after Montreal.

  • jdgalt1||

    Who does this bozo think he is? Charlie O. Finley?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online