A group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter has won the auction for the Miami Marlins baseball team with a $1.3 billion bid, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person requested anonymity because the sale contract hasn’t been signed. The person also wouldn’t name the group’s other investors, though Bush’s network of donors to his unsuccessful presidential campaign was vast.
Wayne Katz, the Proskauer Rose attorney representing the team, and Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment. Jeter’s agent didn’t immediately return an email request for comment.
Other bidders for the team owned by New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria were Quogue Capital LLC founder Wayne Rothbaum, and Solamere Capital co-founder Tagg Romney, whose group included former All-Star pitcher Tom Glavine. Loria had been close to a deal with the Kushner family, relatives by marriage to President Donald Trump, but no agreement was reached.
Loria bought the team in 2002 for $158 million. Forbes said the franchise was valued at $940 million.
Any change of ownership requires approval from MLB. It probably won’t be an issue for Bush, a former presidential candidate whose brother, former President George W. Bush, once owned the Texas Rangers, and Jeter, a future Hall-of-Famer and Florida resident who has said for years that he wanted to own a baseball team.
In the Marlins, Bush and Jeter get a franchise with a relatively new ballpark, Marlins Park, which opened in 2012. The team hasn’t consistently drawn large crowds, playing before an average of 24,313 fans this season, placing the Marlins 24th out of 30 clubs.
The money-losing Marlins can add to their bottom line in a couple of key ways. First, the team is seeking a naming rights partner for its stadium, which will host the All-Star game in July. Also, team executives have said they’re exploring a reworked local television contract. The current deal with Fox expires after the 2020 season, though it can be renegotiated. According to the Miami Herald, the team gets about $20 million a year from Fox, the lowest in MLB.
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Scott Soshnick