To understand the treachery of Loria and David Samson, the team president and son of Loria’s ex-wife, one need only understand a single number: $1.2 billion. That’s how much a $91 million note from J.P. Morgan to help finance the team’s new stadium, which opened in 2012, is going to cost Miami-area taxpayers. That’s 13 times the original loan. In all, $409 million worth of loans will balloon to $2.4 billion.
And here’s the thing: That’s not even the worst part. For years, the Marlins cried poor to local politicians, saying they needed a stadium to make money. Never would they open up their financials, of course, because they would have shown the Marlins had cleared nearly $50 million in profits the two years before Miami-Dade County approved the stadium funding. Ultimately, the government cowed, and the Marlins got perhaps the most sweetheart of sweetheart stadium deals, which is saying something. They covered only a quarter of construction costs. They keep all of the stadium revenues: tickets, parking, concessions. They pay $2.3 million annually in rent – money that goes to pay off a county loan.
Amazingly, one could argue that what Loria did to the Marlins wasn’t nearly as bad as his systematic slaughter of the Montreal Expos. In 1999, he spent $12 million for a quarter of the Expos. Over the next few years, he built up his stake in the team to nearly 100 percent. Then he asked for a new stadium, couldn’t get traction and made a choice: He would sell the Expos to MLB – and sell out Montreal fans who knew the league wanted to move the team – for the rights to purchase the Marlins. All it would cost was $158.5 million – the $120 million MLB paid for the Expos and the $38.5 million interest-free loan the league gave him.