When looking for a dishonest business owner who has contempt for his customers, look no further than Miami Marlins owner (at least for now) Jeffery Loria. After running the Montreal Expos into the ground, and lucky to land a championship from the 2003 then-Florida Marlins team, he has developed a relationship of shortchanging team growth and competition, lying about his team’s financial fortunes, and going after his fans. When trying to convince public officials in Miami of the need for taxpayer money for a baseball stadium, Loria and other Marlins associates sobbed about the financial struggles the team supposedly had…before financial documents showed such a story to be spurious. The team had been making tens of millions of dollars of profit from MLB’s revenue sharing scheme (http://deadspin.com/5619235/florida-marlins-financial-documents/; http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2010/08/4271_mlbleakgate_wat_4.html). Such news ultimately led to backlash from the public, leading to the dismissal of many public officials, including the recall and replacement of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, who had unquestionably backed the plan. After such dishonesty, and putting together a mediocre team, Loria set up a fire sale that sold most of the team’s top talent to other teams (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/marlins/2012/11/13/blue-jays-marlins-trade-jose-reyes-josh-johnson-mark-buehrle/1703283/). Finally, to add insult to injury, he now has decided to punish fans through lawsuits…over reneging on a deal concerning season tickets that the team already violated (http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-marlins-sue-fan-to-seize-his-property-in-broward-county-9475661). Most teams would avoid such a public relations nightmare, but given what Loria has done over the last few years, such a thing is a given by him.
I use to be a Marlins fan, enjoying what the team had to offer and basking in the glow of what was a fun championship season in 2003. However, as I began to become aware of what took place beyond the baseball field, it became clear how much the team under Loria’s direction couldn’t care about growing the franchise to new heights. He was more concerned with fleecing taxpayers and enriching himself than that. Learning about the dishonesty turned me off from supporting the team, and I haven’t been back since. Perhaps that will change as new leadership is set to come…whatever that is. However, perhaps I can’t be too harsh to Loria in one respect…he was perhaps the catalyst for helping me realize the cronyism inherent in the drive of teams lobbying public officials into supporting sports stadiums, and why such initiatives aren’t worth the support. While the conventional belief goes that public financing of sports stadiums will promote economic vitality and expansion, the economic data and the historical record shows such a thing to be far from the case…with many such expenditures not leading to any such bump in economic success, and empty husks left in their wake (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/if-you-build-it-they-might-not-come-the-risky-economics-of-sports-stadiums/260900/; http://www.businessinsider.com/2004-athens-olympics-venues-today-2015-7; http://www.businessinsider.com/brazil-world-cup-stadiums-one-year-later-2015-5). Never again will I support such sleaziness, which will cost Miami-Dade taxpayers more than $2.4 billion with interest by the time all bonds are paid off (http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Marlin-Money-Pit-to-Cost-County-24-Billion.html).
Loria’s actions should also serve as a reminder of the threat that occurs when we involve the intervention of public officials in the private sector. By himself, Loria would have been nothing more than a sports joke. Thanks to public officials, he became even more of a parasite. Insulated by taxpayer money, he had even more reason to not put his own money behind his useless promises. What is left is an empty shell of a franchise as he gets set to jump ship. Hopefully other teams don’t fall for such a con man.