Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Glorious Exit of Jeffrey Loria, the Worst Owner in Sports

Over the past 18 years, as Jeffrey Loria sprayed the stench of his naked greed across baseball like the skunk he is, as he destroyed the sport in one city and bilked another out of billions of dollars, as he tore asunder a championship team and micromanaged countless others and behaved like the lamest sort of wannabe George Steinbrenner possible, all blowhard, zero substance, the aggrieved could take solace in one thing and one alone: Some day, the game would rid itself of him.

Mercy was not the exclusive domain of the Ninth Circuit on Thursday. Early in the day, simultaneous feelings of joy and fury accompanied the Forbes report that Loria had agreed to sell the Miami Marlins to an unnamed buyer for $1.6 billion. Joy because the owner who played arsonist to his own franchise was relinquishing his Zippo. And fury because one of the worst owners in sports had turned a $158.5 million investment into something worth 10 times as much, an example other owners with similarly feeble consciences may be tempted to copy.

Whatever frustration percolated over a rich man getting even richer paled compared to the ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead giddiness expressed by Marlins players and executives past and present in texts and calls to one another. Presuming the deal goes through – plenty of pitfalls remain, a source familiar with the agreement confirmed to Yahoo Sports, and Loria would like to bask in the glow of the All-Star Game at Marlins Stadium in July, so the timing of any sale remains unclear – it will bring to an end an ownership reign that stained the sport for more than a decade.

To understand the treachery of Loria and David Samson, the team president and son of Loria’s ex-wife, one need only understand a single number: $1.2 billion. That’s how much a $91 million note from J.P. Morgan to help finance the team’s new stadium, which opened in 2012, is going to cost Miami-area taxpayers. That’s 13 times the original loan. In all, $409 million worth of loans will balloon to $2.4 billion.

And here’s the thing: That’s not even the worst part. For years, the Marlins cried poor to local politicians, saying they needed a stadium to make money. Never would they open up their financials, of course, because they would have shown the Marlins had cleared nearly $50 million in profits the two years before Miami-Dade County approved the stadium funding. Ultimately, the government cowed, and the Marlins got perhaps the most sweetheart of sweetheart stadium deals, which is saying something. They covered only a quarter of construction costs. They keep all of the stadium revenues: tickets, parking, concessions. They pay $2.3 million annually in rent – money that goes to pay off a county loan.

by Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports | Read more:
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