It’s good to be the owner of a professional sports franchise. Really, really good. Particularly if you’re Jeffrey Loria. The Marlins owner destroyed one franchise when he owned the Montreal Expos, deflated that fanbase by accelerating the fire sale of players post-strike, and then essentially traded for the Florida Marlins in a three-way swap that gave John Henry the Red Sox and sent the Expos into the hands of MLB, which moved them to D.C.
Loria then proceeded to assemble a team to win the World Series in 2003, held the second post-championship fire sale in the franchise’s 15-year history (Wayne Huizenga did the same after the 1997 championship), and deflated yet another baseball fanbase, proceeding to blame it on Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin Stadium (which is admittedly bad). Now, according to the Miami Herald, he’s been rewarded — as the Miami-Dade County Commission has given its OK to a $525 million stadium, taxpayer-financed of course, to be built on the old Orange Bowl site and scheduled to open in 2011 (the lease at Dolphin Stadium, held by former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga, runs out in 2010.)
This approval by the county and the city of Miami — as the Herald claims the team will be renamed the Miami Marlins — will be followed by pleas to Loria by the press to pay for a real team, one that can actually compete in the NL East. Why should Loria do any of that? The city and the county essentially squandered hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money in the hopes of Loria being competitive. Shouldn’t he prove that he isn’t still the NL’s Peter Angelos first?
I doubt Miami is any different than most major cities: it’s got its own financial problems and difficulties, and the current economy probably isn’t helping. So, where do city council folk and county commissioners get off giving away more than $600 million to a man who’s already rich and probably not losing as much money as he claims to every year?
Another city, hoodwinked, blindfolded, and robbed by the league and its owners.
(Hat tip to Sports by Brooks.)