Is that a dark cloud rolling away from Marlins Park in Little Havana? It there a double rainbow arching above its futuristic dome?
Yep. It’s a new day for the Miami Marlins. The team and stadium are getting new owners, pending approval of Major League Baseball. This shouldn’t be anything but a slam dunk when the team owners meet in October to consider the sale, the mixed sports metaphor aside.
This is an opportunity for South Florida fans to forgive and embrace — and fill that beautiful stadium.
Welcome Derek Jeter and New York/Naples businessman Bruce Sherman, who a decade ago played a pivotal role in the sale of the Miami Herald, then owned by Knight-Ridder, to McClatchy.
Jeter and Sherman have tentatively purchased the Marlins and its stadium for $1.2 billion.
We have a wish list for the new owners:
▪ We need to you to help us fall in love with the Marlins again — as we did during their World Series days.
▪ We need you to make the team feel like its part of the community.
▪ And we need you to help heal the wounds between fans and the team.
There are those who have never forgiven Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, the most reviled local team owner, from finagling a stadium out of Miami and Miami-Dade so that his privately owned, money-making team got a shiny new place to play largely financed with taxpayers money. Well, they can put the hatchet away.
For those who never forgave Loria for the fire sale of talent following the 2003 World Series win? It’s time for them, too, to chill. Ditto for those who disliked the ownership’s dismissive attitude toward fans.
Jeter now stands to become the face of the Marlins. He had the staying power to best former Gov. Jeb Bush, businessman Jorge Mas, apparently still looking to get in on the deal, and other boldface names. It’ll be a boost to have an owner who is baseball royalty. Throw NBA crown prince Michael Jordan into the mix as a minority owner and the star power is undeniable.
The betrayal taxpayers felt from the Marlins ownership rattled the community when they learned that the bulk of the stadium debt fell on them, thanks to the sweetheart deal approved by both Miami and Miami-Dade politicians who feared Loria would take his team and leave.
The 2009 deal said the Marlins would contribute only a fraction of the cost. But the team’s financials were leaked, revealing it was, in fact, making money on taxpayers’ backs.
There’s still fallout: David Beckham is still trying to get a stadium built for a Major League Soccer team, but repeatedly hit a wall over the cost — even though he says it would be privately financed. Ironically, the Beckham group didn’t want to build next to Marlins Park, calling the venue “spiritually tainted.”
The same happened to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross in his efforts to get state money to overhaul Hard Rock Stadium. Ross found closed doors in Tallahassee, and the billionaire had to personally pay for the stadium’s renovation.
But now the community should start with a clean slate for Jeter and Sherman, even though the horrible death of ace pitcher Jose Fernandez will be one bit of sadness that will be near impossible to wipe away.
The Miami Marlins just need to start winning. There’s great karma sweeping out the bad. Let’s rally ’round under that rainbow.