Statements show Marlins made $49M in 2008-09

The Florida Marlins made big profits with baseball’s smallest
player payroll in 2008-09, and team president David Samson says the
income was needed to ensure being able to borrow money for a new
ballpark.

Team financial statements acquired by Deadspin.com show the
Marlins netted $49 million during the two seasons, with operating
income of $37.8 million in 2008 and $11.1 million in 2009. Samson
didn’t dispute the figures during a conference call Monday.

”It was critical for us as a team to make sure we had enough
money to put into the ballpark,” he said.

The Marlins had the lowest player payroll in the major leagues
both seasons – $22 million in 2008 and $37 million in 2009. Last
winter they reached an agreement with the players’ union to
increase spending in the wake of complaints team payroll had been
so small as to violate baseball’s revenue sharing provisions.

Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the franchise has always claimed
payroll matches revenue. In explaining the 2008-09 profits, Samson
said there was another part of the equation: the need to borrow
money for ballpark financing.

”We had to show that we were a healthy company that was not
overleveraged, having too much debt,” he said.

”The information that is now public basically confirms
everything that we have said over the years in terms of how we have
operated the team with an eye toward one thing, and that was making
sure that baseball would be secure in South Florida, and we would
be able to contribute what was required in order to consummate a
stadium transaction.”

The Marlins’ profits in 2008 came after they traded All-Star
slugger Miguel Cabrera following the 2007 season, one of many
cost-cutting moves under Loria.

”We could have had Cabrera and no ballpark,” Samson said.

Florida’s new home is expected to open in 2012. Total cost of
the project is estimated at $609 million, with the Marlins paying
more than $120 million.

While Samson said the financial statements support what he has
said in the past, he said he was disappointed the numbers had been
made public. When asked why, he said: ”It’s just that we’re a
private company. … ‘Disappointed’ is the exact word. Not angry.
Not putting our head in the sand. Not denying it. Not kicking and
screaming like petulant children. Disappointed.”

Samson said the leaking of the documents was a crime.

”It will be followed up intensely by Major League Baseball and
its member clubs,” he said.

The Marlins’ financial statements became public one day after
The Associated Press reported that the cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh
Pirates made nearly $29.4 million in 2007 and 2008, according to
team documents.