Forbes: Marlins Worth $520 Million

The Miami Marlins' franchise value grew 16% in 2012, despite an operating loss of $7 million

By David Hill
|  Thursday, Mar 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:18 AM EDT
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The Miami Marlins were a bust in the standings in 2012, but the team's value rose 16% thanks in large part to the opening of Marlins Park.

Financial publication Forbes released its annual baseball franchise valuations Wednesday, and the Miami Marlins were once again one of the least valuable teams in MLB.

Forbes valued the Marlins at $520 million, the 26th most-valuable team in the league.

But that was up 16% from the previous year, before the opening of Marlins Park in Little Havana. If that seems like a huge jump, the average franchise value rose 23% last year, so the Marlins actually underperformed the competition (not a new theme for the team).

The Marlins are the fifth-least valuable franchise in baseball, ahead of only the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays. The team also has the seventh-highest debt load, at 29% of franchise value.

Miami was one of the worst performing teams in the standings and the financials. The Marlins lost $7.1 million in 2012, according to Forbes' calculations (all while finishing 69-93, at the bottom of the NL East standings). Only the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels lost more money last season.

Still considering the fact that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria bought the team for $158.5 million in 2002 (with a $38.5 million interest-free loan from MLB to help finance his purchase), it's pretty clear he has done well with his investment, averaging an 11.4% annual return on a compound basis.

Forbes' numbers show exactly why the team executed a series of payroll-slashing deals over the last year. Even with a new stadium that boosted ticket sales and increased concession and merchandise revenue, the team still could not turn a profit in 2012. Cutting payroll to the bone might not increase ticket sales, but it reduces the team's breakeven revenue point significantly.

The New York Yankees were once again the most valuable team, at $2.3 billion. The Los Angeles Dodgers were second at $1.6 billion.

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