The Loria Years: $300 Million Double Double

Forbes has produced their annual MLB valuations, which gives me an opportunity to update my Profit and Loss financial statement for the Florida Marlins. BD [Before Deadspin], producing the financials was like putting together a puzzle whose contents were constantly refuted by the fittingly embarrassed ownership. By now I assume we can focus on what the numbers reveal. See below for the Profit and Loss financial statement for the Florida Marlins during the Loria ownership years, 2002 through 2010.

My financial statement is a combination of actuals [Deadspin] and estimates [Forbes]. In addition, I adjusted the Deadspin/actuals, to be consistent with the Forbes [and conventional accounting] criteria regarding operating income. I illustrate and explain the change here and here. In effect, I am adjusting for a concession MLB made to teams building new stadiums. Ideally, Forbes would address the discrepancy directly, but for now, the teeming MLB finances community is stuck with me.

Professional athletes have their milestones, owners have theirs. During 2010, Jeffrey Loria surpassed the $300 million mark in revenue sharing monies received from the MLB revenue sharing payer teams during his nine years of owning the Florida Marlins. Those teams were mostly the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Cubs. If you think that is a tough crowd to feel sympathy for, you’ve probably never co-owned a franchise with Loria.

For Jeffrey Loria, the $300 million from revenue sharing was one part of a double-double. He has also seen his investment in MLB franchises grow by over $300 million. Follow along as we trace how Loria’s investment in MLB has grown through the years:

  • 1993 – Failed in bid to purchase the Baltimore Orioles.
  • 1999 – Initial $12 million dollar investment in the Montreal Expos for a 24% interest in the franchise.
  • 2000 – Instead of putting up an additional $39 million towards a new downtown ballpark in Montreal as called for in the deal under which he entered as an investor, Loria outmaneuvered the other partners by cancelling those plans and initiating capital calls. Those capital calls result in Loria investing an additional $18 million to increase his ownership percentage from 24% to 93%. Thus Loria gained 93% of the Expos for roughly a $30 million investment.
  • 2001 – Loria threatens MLB with an antitrust lawsuit if they proceed with plans to contract the Montreal franchise without allowing Loria to continue to own another MLB team, preferably in Washington DC.
  • 2002 – MLB exchanges Loria’s ownership interest in the Montreal Expos for the Florida Marlins. The price MLB ascribed to the Expos was $120 million — a 900 percent return on his original investment, but only a 400 percent return on his total Expos ownership investment — plus a $38.5 million loan, $15 million of which was later forgiven.
  • 2002 through 2010 – Florida Marlins receive $302 million in revenue sharing monies.
  • 2002 through 2010 – Florida Marlins earn $154 million in operating income.
  • 2006 through 2010 – Florida Marlins Major League payroll is consistently one of the lowest in MLB.
  • 2009 – Local governments approve financing for construction of a retractable roof facility at the Orange Bowl site in Little Havana.
  • March 2011 – Forbes estimates the current value of the Florida Marlins at $360 million. Forbes earlier valuations of the Marlins have been very accurate.

Florida Marlins estimated Profit & Loss statement.

Please click on image to enlarge or print.

This spreadsheet addresses the discrepancy between the Deadspin actuals and Forbes estimates.

Please click on image to enlarge or print

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Larry Beinfest: Hyman Roth’s Progeny?

Tom Hagen, he of German-Irish descent, quote from G2:

Roth, he … he played this one beautifully

Hyman Roth meet Larry Beinfest. The kid’s been running molasses out of Jamestown, Greenboro, Jupiter and New Orleans. He always make money for his partners and eventually, he’ll do the same for some of his prospects. They just need to be patient.

If you’re the Marlins getting ready for 2011, there is one financial constraint you have to work around. The next prospect with a chance to continue the recent string of rookie successes — Coghlan, Sanchez, Stanton and Morrison — cannot use up a year of arbitration in 2011. Which means, as Juan Rodriguez from the Sun-Sentinel explains, that Matt Dominguez won’t make it to the majors until “probably after the late-May arbitration cutoff date.”

So these were Beinfest’s options coming into Spring Training:

  1. Announce that 3B was Emilio Bonifacio’s job to lose
  2. Announce that 3B was Wes Helms’ job to lose
  3. Announce that 3B was Matt Dominguez’s job to lose
  4. Announce that there was an open competition for the job

Option #1 would have brought threats of violence from the Sabermetric community. Option #2 would have brought threats of violence from Wes Helms. His role and future with the Marlins appears set. No need to risk a .150 average in mid-May to potentially ruin the good vibes. So it came down to option #3 or #4.

The risk with option #4 is that Dominguez has a nice spring under the radar and now the Marlins have created a PR problem — New Ballpark = Caring = PR problem — when they send him down at the beginning of the season. Think of it this way, the Marlins had to decide under which option Dominguez would perform better this Spring and then select the other option. The choice on how to handle Dominguez came down to under the radar or as a top gun.

Evidence of the top gun expectations choice is that Dominguez was touted as one of the best fielding 3B in MLB right now and that only hitting would be a question mark. Once Dominguez struggled, now the Marlins have a prospect who probably accepts that he needs additional time in the minors instead of thinking that he belongs in the majors right away.

Somewhere, likely in Hell, Hyman Roth is smiling through a persistent cough and a urinary tract infection. If the Marlins trade for a 3B before the regular season begins, please ignore all the above.

The Rodriguez article is copied in full at the end of the post.
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