Rumors have been swirling for months that Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Miami Marlins, was looking to either sell or relocate the team. According to the Associated Press, Loria reached a sale agreement on Thursday with an unnamed buyer, reportedly a New York real estate developer. The sale is far from final and could still fall through, as the prospective buyer has yet to complete due diligence. Other potential buyers remain in the mix.
Preliminary Agreement for Marlins Sale in Place
As first reported by Forbes, Marlins president David Samson has said there is a handshake agreement in place to sell the team for $1.6 billion. If that is indeed the case, Loria will have made a large profit off his initial investment in the team.
Back in 2002, Loria sold the Montreal Expos to Major League Baseball for $120 million. With those funds and a $38 million loan from the league, Loria purchased the Marlins from John Henry, now the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $158 million. Since then, the value of the franchise has increased dramatically, as has the value of every team.
Thanks to increased ticket sales, huge TV deals, and other revenue streams, Major League Baseball and its individual franchises are more lucrative than ever. When profits from MLB Advanced Media, owned in equal shares by all franchise owners, are factored in, the value any team gets an additional boost.
The Marlins have enjoyed some success in the Loria Era. As the Florida Marlins, they captured the 2003 World Series title after vanquishing the heavily-favored New York Yankees. However, the team hasn’t had a winning season since 2009. In 2016, it looked for much of the season as though they might make a push for a Wild Card spot, but a late-season fade spoiled any hope of that. The Marlins also tragically lost Jose Fernandez, one of baseball’s brightest stars, on September 25. The team will, undoubtedly, be playing for his memory this season. Hopefully, under the new ownership, they find some measure of success.