The Miami Marlins finally have a new owner as Jeffrey Loria agreed to sell the team for $1.17 billion to an ownership group. This could signify a potential rebirth for one of baseball’s more hapless franchises.
The ownership group is primarily financed by venture capitalist Bruce Sherman, who according to the Miami Herald, made his money founding a wealth management firm called Private Capital Management based in Naples, Florida. But the most famous member of this group is not Sherman, but Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
Jeter has not been shy about his desire to own a baseball team. He attempted to purchase the Marlins earlier this year as part of a different ownership group led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush. While Jeter will only contribute $25 million for the Marlins purchase, Sherman will allow Jeter to run the Marlins both on the business and baseball side.
To go from the famous Yankees to the struggling Marlins will be a significant challenge for Jeter. After winning the World Series in 2004, the Marlins have won zero playoff series since then and have been in the cellar of the National League most of the time. If that was not problematic enough, the Marlins have ranked bottom in attendance for 11 of the last 12 seasons despite playing in a major American city.
Others have pointed out that there is a major difference between being good at playing sports and being good at running a sports team, using the example of Michael Jordan and his ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets. Can Jeter really compete with the analysts, businessmen, and technocrats who run most MLB teams today?
But for most Marlins fans, just punting Loria out the door is a victory in and of itself. The Marlins owner acquired a reputation as a cheapskate who was more obsessed with making a profit than fielding a winning baseball team. There is also how Loria managed to get the city of Miami to essentially give him hundreds of millions, according to Deadspin, to build a new baseball stadium in 2012.
Finishing up Details
However, it may be too early for Miami fans to celebrate just yet. The owners of the other MLB franchises will have to meet and approve the agreement, which will not take place for at least a month. Furthermore, other ownership groups attempted to purchase the Marlins earlier, only for the agreement to fall through for various reasons.
But it does appear that the sale is much more likely to happen than it is not. And while the Marlins have struggled and are losing money, Loria was still able to sell them for the second largest amount ever paid for a MLB franchise. The Marlins have a new stadium, are in a potentially valuable market, and there are far more rich individuals who want to buy a sports team than there are available teams.
[Featurted image by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]