Things in South Florida just got more interesting both on and off the field. Known for a small payroll, the Florida (now named Miami) Marlins have signed two of the top free agents for next season. This is prior to opening a brand new stadium beginning next season.
Last week, a story by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued subpoenas to the Marlins organization to understand the agreement reached by the city and the team on a new stadium. Among items that the SEC wanted to see was the Marlins financial records, communications with the MLB commissioner, other meeting minutes, and campaign contribution.
Passan outlines the Marlins story up to the SEC subpoenas. The Marlins wanted a new stadium because they were supposedly losing money. The Marlins threatened to relocate the franchise if the city did not provide the team with a new, baseball only, stadium. The local government requested financial records from the Marlins but were denied. However, the government still voted to build the new stadium which also gives the Marlins all stadium related revenue. The stadium is expected to cost the city 2.4 billion dollars. When Deadspin posted team financial statements last year, the financial statement of the Marlins showed that the Marlins made tens of million of dollars. Now the SEC has stepped in to investigate. As Passan writes:
While the subpoenas issued by the SEC do not explicitly detail the purpose of the investigation, the feds’ motives are evident: They want to understand how, exactly, a group of county commissioners agreed to fund 80 percent of the Marlins new stadium, which cost more than $600 million, without ever seeing the team’s financial records – and whether bribes had anything to do with it.
It remains to be seen what the SEC investigation will conclude. This situation has the potential to be very ugly for the Marlins, the city, and Major League Baseball.