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Industry News

Marlins Park at heart of lawsuit over MLB franchise takeover

A financing agreement struck for the development of Marlins Park is at the centre of a lawsuit launched by Miami-Dade County against former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and the new ownership group of the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.

The lawsuit relates to last year’s $1.2bn (€981.2m) takeover of the Marlins by a group led by billionaire businessman Bruce Sherman and New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter.

Miami-Dade County’s lawsuit claims that the takeover hasn’t resulted in the activation of a 2009 agreement which called for the county and the City of Miami to receive a share of profits from any sale of the team. This deal was connected to the level of public investment that went into the development of Marlins Park, the team’s ballpark which opened in 2012.

The Miami Herald newspaper said Loria claimed a $140m paper loss on the takeover deal, which was sealed in October, based on the calculations allowed under the original deal with Miami-Dade and Miami attached to public financing for construction of the $615m Marlins Park project.

The county has named the former and current owners of the Marlins in the suit. Emilio González, city manager for Miami, told the Herald that the city also plans to file its own suit against Loria.

The Marlins said in a statement: “This claim has absolutely nothing to do with this ownership group. This county-city equity payment is 100 per cent an obligation of the previous ownership, and it was specifically excluded as part of our purchase of the team. We expect the previous ownership and the county to resolve this dispute in an expeditious manner.”

The Marlins are said to have refused to make a five per cent equity payment as promised should the team change ownership.

Image: Don Ramey Logan