What $1.2 Billion Buys in Miami: For Baseball, a Major Distraction

What $1.2 Billion Buys in Miami: For Baseball, a Major Distraction

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“There needs to be more events,” said Javier Erazo, who tried last week to entice drivers to park with a sign that read “Cash Credit Debit.” “I don’t think there’s a whole lot of support for baseball.”

The Batting Cage, a neighborhood restaurant on game days that turns into a club at 10 p.m., opened in 2012 to cash in on fans coming to the stadium. But Mike McKinney, the manager, said the restaurant was busy only when the Mets, the Cubs and other popular teams were in town. “We don’t survive on baseball,” said Mr. McKinney, whose bar had only a sprinkling of patrons last week before a Mets-Marlins game. “One month of baseball nights doesn’t equal a single Friday or Saturday night” in the club.

Like many Marlins fans, Mr. McKinney says he is frustrated with how the team has generally fared under Mr. Loria.

The Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, and his wife, Julie, at a home game in June. His team is expected to fetch nearly eight times what he paid for it in 2002.

Credit
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Mr. Loria bought the Marlins in 2002 with the proceeds from his sale of the Montreal Expos and a subsidy from Major League Baseball. A year later, the Marlins won their second World Series title, beating the Yankees.

But Mr. Loria angered fans by promptly trading away some of the team’s stars. And for years, Mr. Loria said he did not have the money to spend on big-name players because the Marlins played in an outdoor stadium without a roof to keep out the rain and seal out South Florida’s stifling humidity. Consequently, the argument went, too many fans stayed away.

Mr. Loria eventually persuaded local lawmakers to pay for most of Marlins Park, yet attendance remained poor, even though the owner’s laments about the weather were addressed with a roof that is often closed.

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