8:50pm: The Marlins issued a statement to Hanks indicating that the purchase agreement included language protecting the new ownership group from claims relating to the stadium agreement. “This claim has absolutely nothing to do with the [current] ownership group,” the organization says.
6:31pm: Miami-Dade County is suing the Marlins, the former ownership group led by Jeffrey Loria,and the team’s current ownership group, according to a report from Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald. The litigation will address a dispute that has arisen over the municipality’s rights to a share of profits from the sale of the organization that was wrapped up last fall.
Details of the suit are still somewhat sparse at this time. But the general parameters of the matter were laid out by Hanks a few weeks back and are touched upon in the above-linked post. The county claims “fuzzy math” was utilized to prevent it from recouping a share of the sale profits.
Generally, of course, a local government would not have a direct claim to the proceeds of the sale of a sports franchise. But Miami-Dade County forked over hundreds of millions of dollars to enable the construction of Marlins Park. As part of the 2009 agreement that led to the new stadium, the county (along with the city of Miami) is entitled to a five percent share of certain profits from the franchise sale. Loria now claims that the $1.2B sale did not leave him with any profits within the terms of the contract.
It’ll surely be interesting to see how this litigation plays out. The current ownership group (led by Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman) will necessarily be involved, given that it now owns the entity that inked the original contracts, though its potential exposure to liability is not clear at this point. While it’s always possible that things could end up being settled out, the discovery process could lead to the airing of quite a lot of fascinating information regarding the Marlins’ finances. That possibility, no doubt, will also play a role in how things shake out.
Whether or not the team will be impacted moving forward, the suit also promises to be of quite some relevance to the ongoing debate over the public financing of stadiums. The Marlins Park episode has long been cited by opponents as a prime example of the harms the public can suffer when municipalities pay for the facilities utilized by sports teams.