Marlins Trade Away Top Players - And Fans' Trust

Nov 20, 2012

The Marlins latest fire sale is official: Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig approved the trade of 5 of the team’s top players.  

Most fans reacted angrily to the news, which prompted some to re-evaluate the wisdom of the 2009 deal to create the new, half-billion dollar mostly taxpayer-funded Marlins stadium in Little Havana.

With the Marlins purge, does Miami have a bit of buyer's remorse over the mostly publicly-funded stadium?
Credit ItsL_E

Olga from Miramar writes that although she supported the 2009 stadium deal, the Marlins trade, “proved our worse fears to be true.”

The city of Miami spent $119 million to build parking garages around the new stadium, while Miami-Dade county covered most of the costs, pitching in nearly $400 million from tourist taxes. The Marlins contributed $120 million towards construction.

This trade saves the team over $160 million in payroll. 

Putting aside the trade, some fans who wanted the new stadium were disappointed by the final product.  Jonathan from Casselberry writes that:

[H]aving sat through games at…Dolphins Stadium would make a person nuts enough to believe in whatever's necessary. [But t]he neighborhood surrounding the [new] stadium has not stepped up in terms of aesthetics, and the stadium operations had multiple bugs, including never having certain concession stands open.

Rhonda from Miami admits that she loves the new stadium and its amenities, but the development hasn’t done much to revitalize Little Havana nor bring in revenue:

[E]ven if the fan base grew, it would probably be a decade or more for there to be a vibrant atmosphere outside the new structure. I don't believe it will ever come close to offering the restaurants, bars and shops that surround (for example) Denver's stadium that could possibly expand the tax base.

The purge has provided more evidence for some to repeat, “I told you so.”  Jeff from Miami says:

It confirms my previous position of how it is crazy for a city that already is financially challenged to use public funds to build a ballpark for a privately owned sports team and turn over the income produced to the owner of the team. It really is insane.

But the fact that the Marlins did do so badly this season may actually be a good reason for the trade, and not a sign that the team's owner, Jeffrey Loria, is trying to cash out.  Diogenes from Miami says:  

I'm glad we did built [the stadium], better here than Broward. And if the players we had made us come in dead last, maybe the new meat might be better.

A fair point: why pay top dollar for a losing team?  No one wants to pay for a loser, but everyone is willing to pay for a winner.  So if building the stadium was a winner, then why did the city and county need to step in?   No matter how the Marlins do, the stadium may have been a losing proposition before it even broke ground.