Florida Marlins' 2003 fiscal projections portray dire need for stadium, huge debt
By Risa Polansky
A 2003 Florida Marlins projection shows a team $141.1 million in debt, with equity declining until it gets a new stadium.
Equity, at the time $28 million, was projected to fall to $7.2 million by 2005.
Marlins officials declined to comment on their 5-year old financials or update details.
The team is in line to put $120 million plus $2.3 million a year rent toward a $515 million ballpark.
Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami are to fund the rest, though a preliminary document shoulders the team with cost overruns up to at least $20 million.
Deal opponent Norman Braman has for months protested that the team could not afford to pay for the deal.
He tried through a lawsuit this summer to have the team's financials made public, but Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen wouldn't allow it.
The Marlins asked Mr. Braman to invest in the team in 2003, he said, but he declined.
"They have no tangible net worth, only debt. That was the decision I made not to invest at that time."
The financial pro-forma showed the Marlins at a $66.3 million net loss in 2003.
The Marlins expected losses to shrink over the years and predicted an $8.5 million profit in 2007, the first year they thought they'd be in a new stadium.
The documents reveal also that, in a new ballpark, the Marlins planned to charge above-average ticket prices and pay players below-average salaries.
"Everything should be a concern to the public," Mr. Braman said.
Sports management experts also raised concerns over charging high prices and building a quality team.
"What a stadium does is that it gives you potential revenue," said sports economist Andrew Zimbalist. "You don't get the revenue unless you put people in the seats."