Miami Marlins President David Samson confirmed just about every Marlins fans' worst fears in one speech to a local business group. "I don't have to hold back now that the stadium is built," Samson told a group of about 75 local businesspeople at a Beacon Council breakfast meeting.
With the air of someone with an insatiable need to remind everyone he is a winner, Samson laid into politicians, Marlins fans, and the people of South Florida Tuesday morning, according to Miami Today.
Of politicians the team dealt with during the stadium planning process, Samson said they were "not the intellectual cream of the crop." This assessment extended to everyone else in South Florida. "We're not the smartest people in Miami," he said. "If you're in this room, you're instantly in the top 1%."
Of the Marlins' new stadium in Little Havana, Samson thinks the team will thrive even if no one shows up to their games. "We don't care if nobody comes," he said. "We'll play in front of nobody, and we'll have all the money."
So to summarize, Samson thinks his customers are dumb and unnecessary for the team's success. He embodies the fan-unfriendly persona the team has assumed in the decade since Jeffrey Loria bought the team.
For what it's worth, Samson also said the team will bear full responsibility if the new stadium does not lead to sustainable attendance growth. "We don't put any responsibility on the fans if they don't come," he said.
Not that he expects an empty stadium. "For anyone who is OK with mediocrity, we're going to blow them out of the water." The revamped roster and amenities at Marlins Park speak to this goal. Whether that creates sustainable momentum in ticket sales remains to be seen.
Samson even went so far as to complain about Miami Today's coverage of the new stadium, calling its coverage "emotions disguised as fact." Samson complained, "People with a pen can use it as a sword to destroy a project without having all the facts."
Miami Today publisher and editor Michael Lewis defended his publication, saying, "Mr. Samson is right that Miami Today was against the stadium deal. It was a bad deal for the taxpayers and we said so editorially. However, in the news columns, Miami Today is strictly neutral and fair, as well as being factual."
Regardless, with Marlins Park open for business, it is clear that the team is content to take its victory lap, confident that it will be impervious to hard times moving forward. But with a number of teams struggling to draw crowds to new stadiums (like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians, to name but a few), Samson may want to wait to see some long-term results before declaring total victory.