The Miami Marlins’ payroll-shedding trade with the Toronto Blue Jays shows that the team doesn’t want to invest in Miami, Mayor Tomas Regalado said Wednesday.
"What is important is the message that they have sent to the community that, you know, Miami invested in the Marlins and the Marlins doesn’t want to invest in Miami,” Regalado said.
Sports talk radio was ablaze at the news of Tuesday’s trade – in which the Marlins again all but dismantled their team, shipping five veteran players, including four former All-Stars, to the Blue Jays for a package of minor leaguers and spare parts.
The move will save $160 million in salary over the next five years – but any hope for a competitive season next year is seemingly dashed. This comes against the backdrop of the team’s new Marlins Park complex, which was built for $634 million, mostly through public funds.
The Marlins said that they needed a new stadium so they could field a competitive team. But a spending spree last winter yielded a grossly underperforming squad that finished in last place in the NL East in 2012. Now, the team’s payroll will almost certainly be sharply lower in 2013.
"We have to get better," Loria told CBSSports.com. "We can't finish in last place. We finished in last place. That's unacceptable. We have to take a new course."
For a first-year stadium, attendance at Marlins Park was tepid – and the promised economic impact to the area around the park minimal. The Batting Cage Sports Bar, west of the stadium, is one of the few new businesses to the area.
"The fewer people that go to that stadium, the less redevelopment opportunities you are going to have, the less retail opportunities you have,” said Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, a critic of the ballpark, in reaction to the trade.
Ballpark supporters from the political world were scarce Wednesday. But Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who voted for the stadium construction, was as disappointed as anyone.
"I was one of those pushing for the stadium,” Diaz said. “Maybe if I knew a lot of things ahead of time, like everybody being a Monday quarterback, I would have done things differently. But the stadium was built. The stadium is there. It belongs to the people. And at the end of the day we’ll make do one way or the other."