Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is “receptive to the possibility of selling” the organization, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Loria has at least floated the rather lofty price tag of $1.7B, Mike Ozanian of Forbes reported yesterday, though Jackson says that he dangled a lower asking price (by how much isn’t known) to one prior would-be buyer who checked in.
While the news is notable — as Jackson says, Loria previously has balked at the idea of a sale — it’s important to recognize its limitations. For one thing, the current ownership group has not hired a firm to broker a deal. For another, it has reportedly already failed to progress in talks with several interested suitors in recent months.
As has been rumored, one of the entities to pursue the Marlins was Mitt Romney’s Solomere Capital, which brought an offer of less than $1.7B to the table and was rejected. It’s not immediately clear where the market might land for the Miami organization (along with its stadium-rights agreement and other revenue sources), though Jackson cites one “potential buyer” who says he’d consider paying something in the neighborhood of $1.3B — nearly double Forbes’ $675MM valuation.
Of course, that paper valuation doesn’t necessarily reflect the market situation; MLB organizations are obviously in high demand and can deliver long-term returns to owners that aren’t strictly tied to annual earnings. There may be some untapped potential in the Marlins’ franchise, too, though surely another stadium bonanza won’t occur again for some time. Stadium naming rights and a new TV rights deal (which would go into effect after the 2020 season) certainly hold out the promise for a cash-flow boost. And it’s at least worth wondering if other prospective owners see opportunities to boost attendance, which continues to lag behind most of the league, or otherwise enhance the margin.
Ultimately, whether a serious bidder emerges for the Marlins remains to be seen. And Major League Baseball would certainly need to be involved in approving any sale that ultimately is arranged — which, obviously, has not yet occurred. But it’s interesting to consider that the controversial Loria could seriously weigh a divestiture of his interests in the organization, which he is said to have purchased for $158.5MM back in 2002.