The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the deal made between the Miami (neé Florida) Marlins, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County for the building of the Marlins new stadium.
In short, the deal called for the city and county to pay for 80 percent of the new stadium through $500 million in bond sales. By the time the bonds are paid off, the city and county will have paid $2.4 billion over 40 years for the new stadium, with the Marlins paying less than $200 million.
At the time, the Marlins claimed they were breaking even and couldn’t afford a new stadium. However, when the Marlins financial documents were leaked on Deadspin.com, it painted a different picture.
So, how does this impact the Rays?
The Rays want/need a new stadium. And back in 2007, when the Rays proposed the waterfront ballpark, the Rays were expected to contribute $150 million of the approximately $400 million for the new stadium.
That was a lot considering that in 2008, Matt Silverman said the Rays were losing money (his exact words were “we’re cash-flow negative”). And earlier this year, Stuart Sternberg said, “[the Rays] can’t lose money year in and year out, hand over fist.” But like the Marlins, the Deadspin.com docs showed the Rays were actually turning a profit.
When it comes to finally getting a new stadium, we have seen glimmers of hope for the Rays in recent months. If the Rays could somehow convince the city of St. Pete to let the team move across the bay, Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa may be willing to fork over some money for a new stadium.
But now, if that ever does happen, the city and county are going to want proof that the Rays can’t afford to contribute more to the cost. And to do that, the Rays will have to open their books. And that is just not going to happen. Even if Stuart Sternberg was willing, Major League Baseball won’t allow it.
In the end, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami may have gotten swindled into paying $2.4 billion for a stadium at a time when the city is “working so hard to get back on its feet financially.” And now, the Marlins will receive almost all of the revenues, including non-baseball events.
Now that the SEC is investigating the deal, you can be sure that the people of both Tampa and St. Pete are going to make sure the same doesn’t happen to them. And that means the hopes for a new stadium just took a big hit. And if there is no stadium, the Rays will be gone, one way, or another.