For both parties involved, the Miami Marlins sale could be a great idea and come at an opportune time.
Miami Marlins Sale: It’s a Great Time to Buy Any MLB Franchise
For a moment, put all the problems with the Marlins aside. Shut your eyes to all the local indifference (perhaps indifference at best), poor on-field performance, the fact that the brand just lost perhaps its most marketable asset in Jose Fernandez, the chorus line of fired managers, and the enormous contract that the franchise badly needs Giancarlo Stanton to opt out of when the time comes.
The reality is that even Miami is a legitimate franchise, as far as Major League Baseball is concerned. That fact alone makes kicking the tires on buying the team worth the time of someone who has the assets necessary to pull it off.
The reasons are simple: MLB is about to eclipse a major milestone in total revenue that no other North American professional sports league – yes, even the “mighty” National Football League – has. The public relations spin that could be given to the sale could mean a favorable opinion of the franchise in South Florida again.
The revenue that the Marlins will receive just for being a MLB franchise, completely independent of any improved performance at the ticket booth or a new broadcasting contract (the current deal, which is the worst in MLB in terms of annual value, expires in 2020), is quite significant.
MLB is set to become the first North American professional sports league to post an annual total revenue that surpasses 11 figures in 2017. Continued increases in broadcasting rights contracts, stable total league attendance figures, and the explosion of MLB Advanced Media are big players in that drama.
As one of MLB’s 30 franchises, the Marlins will get their cut, even if their league-worst figures in TV money and ticket sales continue in perpetuity. Exploring the dynamics of a potential sale doesn’t negate those benefits, and there’s even an opportunity lying in wait.
Why It’s a Great Time to Buy the Marlins
You can open your eyes and take in the whole picture again. There are problems that any potential new owner, rumored to be the Kushner family, will have to deal with. Aside from the aforementioned issues, there’s stroking current owner Jeffrey Loria’s ego in the negotiations, dealing with a local political atmosphere that is unfriendly to the team because of its taxpayer-funded stadium, and convincing Loria to sell now instead of waiting.
There is one reason why now might not be the best time for a sale, and it’s not insignificant. The lease deal on Marlins Park, which still bears that name despite the naming rights to the stadium being available for nearly six years, states that Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami receive a percentage of any sale of the team that happens in the first 11 years of the lease. The lease was signed in 2009, so if a potential buyer and Loria were to wait four more years until 2021, whichever party that would be on the hook (fishing pun absolutely intended) for paying that money to the city/county now would get, well, you know.
Waiting four years to avoid paying a small percentage to the city and county would be fiscally backward, however. That would be sacrificing dollars to save pennies, and in that interest just sticking a middle finger up to the local political community which is already adverse to the business. Those are obviously the people that a new ownership group would like to be on good terms with.
The 2017 MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by Marlins Park, creating a scenario which would not only will create some additional revenue from that event, but would allow a new ownership group to sell its marketing of a new day in Miami to the baseball world at large.
It’s that message of a new day for the Marlins that could be a new ownership group’s best potential ally. A new ownership group could be seen as the party which “saved” the franchise from Loria, who is one of the least-favored owners of a professional sports team in any league. That alone could cause an initial spike in attendance, but sustaining that would probably require doing what Loria has struggled to do: building a sustainable winner in Miami.
An ownership group marrying itself to the Marlins will be like any other marriage: full of baggage and issues. However, there are definite perks to the relationship, which might outweigh those problems. Miami is a MLB franchise, and that alone makes it worth considering a commitment.