Despite a horrendous season with players and fans, the Miami Marlins approach Opening Day worth more than ever, according to Forbes.
The financial magazine on Wednesday released its annual estimates on the financials of Major League Baseball, and the Marlins recorded a 16 percent gain to be worth $520 million.
The boost came thanks to the gains that a team gets with a new stadium. But the bulk of the gain came from a rising tide generally lifting all teams. That includes a richer revenue stream from MLB’s television contracts, increasing dollars from MLB’s online ventures, and even an investment windfall from an endowment set up with proceeds from the league’s 2006 sale of the Washington Nationals, according to Forbes.
Still, last season was a money-loser for the Marlins, Forbes said.
According to Forbes, the Marlins now are ranked 26th out of 30 teams in the league in terms of franchise value. The best: the New York Yankees, with an estimated value of $2.3 billion. The worst: the Tampa Bay Rays, worth $451 million.
The Forbes list probably comes at an unwelcome time for the Marlins, who are grappling with fan ire over owner Jeffrey Loria jettisoning star players after the team’s first season in a tax-funded ballpark. According to the Forbes list, just as Loria cut more than $60 million from the payroll, his team’s value shot up about $70 million.
A rise in value does not mean an increase in cash, and the Marlins say horrendous ticket sales have left them losing money in recent years. Indeed, the Forbes ranking puts the Marlins’ operating loss at $7 million last year. The Marlins cut a payroll of about $100 million during last year’s losing season to about $40 million this year, according to team estimates.
The fire sale of players came in response to big misses in revenue projections for the debut season in the new stadium. A 69-93 record made a bad situation worse, and the Marlins aren’t sure they can even sell out their home opener on April 8.
A Marlins spokeswoman was not available for a comment Wednesday, but team executives have scoffed at the Forbes numbers in the past. Still, they’re considered a fairly reliable look at the pecking order on the balance sheet of professional baseball.
According to Forbes, the Marlins brought in about $195 million in revenue last year, seventh from the bottom. The top was the Yankees at the $471 million and the bottom was the Rays at $167 million.