Miami Marlins

Selling the Marlins would net Jeffrey Loria a pretty penny

Marlins closer A.J. Ramos takes questions from a large media gathering during the team’s media luncheon on Friday.
Marlins closer A.J. Ramos takes questions from a large media gathering during the team’s media luncheon on Friday. jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

Jeffrey Loria stands to turn a tidy profit if and when he sells the Marlins.

Loria, who bought the Marlins for $158 million in 2002, reportedly has a preliminary agreement in place to sell the team for $1.6 billion — a 1,000-percent return on his investment.

Miami Herald Marlins beat writer Clark Spencer talks about a report by Forbes that the team could potentially be sold on Feb. 9, 2017.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around,” said Paul Anderson, director of the Sports Law Institute at Marquette University School of Law.

But the mind-boggling numbers are real, Anderson said.

“In all honesty, it’s market forces,” Anderson continued.

“It’s what people will pay for these things. There are 30 of these [Major League Baseball franchises]. So it’s an incredibly limited supply with an incredibly high demand.”

Reports continued to reveal new details about a potential sale that Forbes first described as a “handshake agreement,” one that sources told the Herald are preliminary at best.

The New York Times revealed the potential buyer to be Joshua Kushner, a New York City venture capitalist whose older brother Jared is married to Ivanka Trump.

Jared Kusher is senior advisor to President Donald Trump.

But the Times reported that neither Jared Kushner nor his father, Charles Kushner, are involved in ongoing talks to buy the team.

Instead, Joshua Kushner and Joseph Meyer, his brother-in-law, have been engaged in talks with the Marlins for months about buying the team.

Kushner and Meyer have “devised a complicated arrangement that would include bringing in partners later” in order to buy the franchise, according to the Times.

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and President of Baseball Operations talk about the upcoming season at the pre-spring training media luncheon on Feb. 10, 2017.

NO TIMETABLE ON SALE

Sources told the Herald that Loria fully intends to sell the team at some point, but that there’s no timetable on when that might occur.

And other potential bidders have approached Loria about buying the team as well.

For the 76-year-old Loria, a New York City art dealer and overly passionate baseball fan, the financial windfall would be significant.

He bought the Marlins in 2002 for $158 million, using the income he received from his sale of the Montreal Expos for $120 million and an interest-free loan of $38 million to complete the purchase.

While the Marlins have struggled on and off the field, with low attendance and losing seasons in all but five of his 15 seasons as the team’s owner, Loria has ridden the wave of escalating franchise values in professional sports.

Stephen Ross bought the Dolphins for $1.1 billion in 2008. Forbes now estimates the worth of Miami’s NFL franchise at $2.9 billion.

Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. The team is now valued at $4.2 billion.

Franchise values have increased in baseball, too.

In 1973, George Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees for $10 million. Forty-four years later, the Yankees are valued at $3.4 billion by Forbes.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon comments on the offseason, the rumored potential sale of the franchise and his thoughts heading into Spring Training.

VALUES SOARING

TV rights deals, new stadiums, revenue sharing and inflation have driven up franchise values.

The Marlins didn’t have their own stadium when Loria bought the team.

They leased the Dolphins’ stadium until 2012, when they moved into Marlins Park, a $634 million project that was built largely with public funding.

“Can you make any sense of it? I can’t,” Anderson said.

“But it’s typical that they go up very quickly.”

The Marlins receive $20 million annually in local TV money through their agreement with Fox Sports.

The deal, which runs through 2020, provides the Marlins with the lowest local TV revenue stream of any team in the majors.

They have also failed to secure corporate naming rights to Marlins Park, which could bring in an additional $5 million per year if the team was to work out a deal.

In 2015, CBS estimated that the Marlins received $50 million annually through MLB revenue sharing.

Anderson said there are obvious incentives for someone to buy the Marlins.

“The increased potential revenue streams, that’s there, too,” Anderson said.

“It doesn’t have much to do with the success of the team. It’s a bizarre economic system that something would be valued as it is.”

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