Marlins Prez Plays Hardball Over Stadium Cash

No money will be given to county despite $40 million profits: Samson

By Jeff Burnside
|  Thursday, Aug 26, 2010  |  Updated 7:16 AM EDT
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Florida Marlins President David Samson defends the team's finances.

Florida Marlins President David Samson defends the team's finances.

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Florida Marlins’ president David Samson decided to play a little hardball during his weekly appearance on the Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket Wednesday night.

Saying "a contract is a contract,” Samson insisted that the baseball team will not be giving any more money to Miami-Dade County despite the revelation this week that the team, which negotiated with the city and county claiming it had no extra money to contribute to the new stadium, actually made a nearly $40 million profit recently.

"Did you lie?" asked sports talk host Dan LeBatard bluntly.

"Absolutely never,” Samson replied. “Not one time."

Samson did not dispute the accuracy of 40 pages of leaked financial documents, posted on the website deadspin.com, but said just because a company makes a profit doesn’t mean that money goes into the owner's wallet.

"Jeffrey Loria did not put a dollar in his pocket,” said an exasperated Samson. “These statements show that. That's the funny part. The outrage, I understand it, but Jeffrey didn't put a dime in his pocket."

"Where did the profit go, David?" asked LeBatard.

"It actually goes to pay down debt,” explained Samson. “We had way too much debt and we were in violation of the debt service rule. If you're over-leveraged, you cannot access the credit markets."

He also said the money was and is designated for “brick and mortar,” referring to attempts to build the new Marlins stadium at other locations. And he said some of the money went to the Marlins’ minor league operation.

The phone lines lit up with angry callers, although radio show producers said they would not put someone on the air who they feared would curse or show disrespect to Samson, who comes on the show every Wednesday.

But one caller told Samson: “This scandal that's coming out with the finances, when is it gonna stop? When are you guys gonna actually start spending money on the players and bring us a team?” Samson was cordial and tried to explain some of the team’s recent player personnel decisions.

“Do you understand why, David, people don't trust or believe you guys?” asked LeBatard.

“Of course,” Samson said, “because we run a major league baseball team.”

The Ticket also receives emails and text messages that post onto monitors in the control rooms. Most were laden with anger and expletives.

Also unhappy are several Miami-Dade County Commissioners including Rebecca Sosa, who voted for the stadium deal.

Today, Sosa sent a memo about Samson to county administrators that concluded the Marlins had more money on hand than they declared during negotiations. "I hereby request that you explore,” said her memo, “the possibility of securing a greater financial contribution from the Marlins towards the stadium construction."

"Have you seen this letter from Commissioner Rebecca Sosa?” LeBatard asked Samson. He had not, but spoke with Sosa just prior to the memo being written. “A contract is a contract,” said Samson. "At the end of the day, Commissioner Sosa is a politician. And is doing things a politician would do."

Sosa says she still supports the stadium deal. "The only thing that would have changed for me, knowing additional information, is more pressure for more money," she said.

"The listeners just want to hear you say that you lied,” said the radio show co-host who goes by the name “Stugotz."

"Well, Stu, I didn’t lie," replied Samson. "And if people don’t want to believe me, I'm sorry. I wish they would, but it’s just the truth."

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