Miami Marlins: Are They For Sale?

BY Fansided and s.a. rose/FanSided via Call to the Pen • December 17, 2016

There has not been a franchise sold in baseball since 2012 but according to multiple sources, Jeffrey Loria could be looking to sell the Miami Marlins.  Many Marlins fans would welcome a new ownership group but is Loria’s rumored asking price going to scuttle any potential deal going forward?

In the world of multi-billionaires (which is likely foreign to 100.1% of people reading this), the humblebrag that Jeffrey Loria must do about owning the state of Florida’s most valuable baseball team is kind of like what it must mean for the rest of us to be the fastest sprinter in an old folks home or taking first place at a Fugly Christmas sweater party. There are other things you would rather be known for, although in Loria’s case, it is probably the nicest thing South Floridians can think of when referring to him. It is certainly nicer than the assertion that Loria is the “Most Hated Man in Baseball”.

All the love isn’t stopping Loria from endearing himself even more to his Miami fanbase by floating a trial balloon of sorts to see who would be interested if he put the Miami Marlins up for sale for the low, low price of $1.7 billion. (Sale and Price in the same sentence are now unwelcome words for baseball fans everywhere but Red Sox nation). Miami fans would be very happy for Loria to make his exit but there is a worrying amount of doubt that a deal can be made with a price point that seems unreasonable – especially when comparing it to the most recent franchise sale in MLB when the L.A. Dodgers were sold in 2012 for just over $2 billion.

Even at the time, the purchase of the Dodgers was a shocking number and this was for an iconic franchise in one of North America’s most valuable markets. The Guggenheim Baseball Management paid a premium of about 53.6% above the most recent (2011) Forbes’ valuation of $1.4 billion before their purchase. Making a comparison to a potential Miami sale of $1.7 billion dollars with Forbes’ valuation in 2016 and the premium that Loria is expecting to receive is 252% or 2.5 times the assessment from Forbes.  It seems prudent to say a sale at that valuation won’t happen but in this day and age, would a multi-billionaire group paying for the privilege of ownership really surprise anyone with a shocking, overinflated purchase when a team rarely comes on the market any more?

What do you get for the low, low price of $1.7 billion?  A two-time World Series champion with a new-ish stadium (“owned” by the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County but receiving very little of the generated revenues – it has been called the “Worst. Deal. Ever.” and been the center piece of a John Oliver report on publicly funded stadiums) in a top-8 market in terms of population.  Other items for potential owners to like would be categories where the Marlins lead the entire major leagues: the $142 million received in revenue sharing (2011-2015) and over $40 million in payroll difference between the Marlins and the 29th highest payroll in baseball. The bar has been set low and there is an excellent opportunity to turn this around with a different client-centered ownership group.

Who will line up to pay up for the Marlins?  When he is not busy dining with the President-Elect, Mitt Romney and his investment firm were busy putting together a bid in the summer that was ultimately rejected by Loria. Other mystery owners will come out of the woodwork to make an offer and it is still to be determined whether the public scrutiny of a $1.7 billion dollar valuation will strategically work in Loria’s favor or against him in getting the dollar amount he is hoping for.

Hosting the 2017 All-Star game this year at Marlins Park is likely the flashy exit Loria requires before signing off and leaving MLB for good.  If Loria succeeds in getting anywhere close to $1.7 billion, his initial investment of $20 million into the Expos in 1999 will be grudgingly slow-clapped as a financial windfall but his legacy and what he will ultimately be remembered for was his ability to turn two MLB fan bases against him in Montreal and in Miami.

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