The Miami Marlins have had quite a month.
They were THE talk for much of the Winter Meetings. It seemed every big name free agent was linked to the Fish at some point. And they indeed made a big splash by signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell as well as very nearly signing Albert Pujols. The new Marlins stadium was shown to the world. There was the debut of the new uniforms. They even changed their name from “Florida” to “Miami”. But there was one story that broke this month that I am sure the new-look Marlins would love to bury.
It was reported in the December 3 edition of the Miami Herald that the SEC was looking into the financing of the new ballpark. The manner in which the stadium built was so controversial that it resulted in the recall of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez. It seems the taxpayers in the area will be on the hook for nearly 80% of the over $600 million in costs associated with the project. When you also factor leaked financial information to Deadspin and that they had to be pulled kicking and screaming to spend their revenue sharing money on payroll, it is clear something is rotten near South Beach.
As for the team itself, there is no guarantee that even with a new stadium the Marlins will have long-term box office success. For 20 years, the Dolphins had the professional sports market in South Florida all to themselves. However, I remember being in Ft. Lauderdale one time and all week it was reported the Dolphins may be blacked out because there were plenty of seats still available. Did I mention this was a playoff game and Dan Marino was still the QB? And trust me, wait until you see all of the empty seats at Miami Heat home games….unless of course if the Knicks and Celtics are in town. The novelty of the new stadium will wear off and when it does the Miami Marlins will not have the weather to blame anymore.
I used to champion the Marlins as a good organization. No matter how much they were downsized, the club always managed to stay somewhat competitive. I know how much Major League Baseball wants the Marlins to succeed in Miami. However, the people of Dade County have been given the shaft by the organization because of the stadium boondoggle. Its fans have been hoodwinked into believing their team was poor when the reality is they put little money into the product. With the SEC starting to turn up the heat, the Miami Marlins may cease becoming Miami Nice. Not even Crockett and Tubs will be able to bail them out.