Miami Marlins

Mum’s the word as reports swirl about sale of Marlins

The Marlins’ Nick Wittgren signs baseballs for young fans during Marlins FanFest on Saturday at Marlins Park, which was going on amid reports that the team is about to be sold.
The Marlins’ Nick Wittgren signs baseballs for young fans during Marlins FanFest on Saturday at Marlins Park, which was going on amid reports that the team is about to be sold. adiaz@miamiherald.com

If the Marlins have a deal in place to sell the franchise, they’re not saying.

“Time will always tell what happens,” team president David Samson said Saturday.

Samson would neither confirm nor deny reports that the Marlins have a “handshake agreement” to sell the club for $1.6 billion to a group led by Joshua Kushner, a New York City venture capitalist.

Forbes has reported that the Marlins have a preliminary deal in place for team owner Jeffrey Loria to sell Miami’s big-league franchise, while the New York Times wrote that Kushner was the prospective buyer.

Kushner is the brother of Jared Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump and is a special adviser to President Donald Trump.

Samson was asked repeatedly on Saturday whether the team was for sale and whether a deal was in place to sell the team that Loria has owned for the past 15 years.

“I think over the years there’s been so many different rumors that have gone on, and our position has been pretty standard on that,” Samson said. “We don’t address them.”

In its story, Forbes reported that Samson has told others that a preliminary agreement was in place. Samson denied that.

“I have never commented to anyone anything like that,” Samson said.

Samson acknowledged that a number of people have asked about buying the team over the years.

“I would say about 12 times a year, probably once a month,” Samson said. “And I would say every team is approached that often.”

MARLINS IN TALKS ON NAMING RIGHTS

Samson said the team is in discussions with three companies to buy naming rights to Marlins Park.

“I want to get it done before the All-Star Game,” Samson said. “But it’s such a long-term decision that I don’t want to make the wrong one.”

The All-Star Game will be played at Marlins Park on July 11.

Samson said he has also continued to speak to Fox Sports about re-working their current TV rights contract, which expires in 2020.

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

The deal provides the Marlins with the lowest local TV revenue stream of any team in the majors.

“I have great respect for Fox and the people who are there, and I think that they know and we know that our deal, [the] current TV deal is not commensurate with the revenue that should be coming to the team given the content that we’re giving,” Samson said. “But that is no fault of anybody’s but mine.”

Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour cuddles Tango, an adult male Patagonian Cavy, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, during Marlins Fan Fest with Zoo Miami's Ron Magill.

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