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Derek Jeter: Financially challenged Marlins need change, will try to sell naming rights to Marlins Park

Tim Healey, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Baseball

Jeffrey Loria's Marlins were long a financial mess, and the new ownership group headed by chairman Bruce Sherman is in the early stages of altering the way the franchise operates financially, CEO Derek Jeter said Wednesday.

As a business, the new Marlins won't be like the old Marlins.

"We need to make adjustments. We can't continue to run the organization how it's been run," Jeter said. "So we have to change that. That's the best way to put it. If we were going to run the organization the way it was run before, we wouldn't have bought it."

The Marlins' nearly decade and a half of on-field futility since their 2003 World Series championship coincided with a bleak financial picture. Jeter said the team has been "losing money for quite some time," which necessitates change for the new bosses.

"There are some financial things we have to get in order," Jeter said. "That's the bottom line."

How, exactly, the Marlins will make more money is unclear, and Jeter admitted as much while speaking outside the Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel, where he is representing the Marlins through Thursday at the league's quarterly owners' meetings.

 

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One eventual source of additional revenue is selling the naming rights to Marlins Park, which Jeter said he intends to do. And in three years, the Marlins' TV deal with Fox Sports Florida, which at $20 million per year is well below even what other small-market teams get for the rights to broadcast their games, will expire. That will be another opportunity for improvement.

Then there are the more nebulous revenue avenues: raising attendance, a perennial problem for the Marlins, and working with corporate sponsors, which Jeter has indicated will be a focus. That can include/lead to selling tickets, luxury suite packages and advertising around the ballpark, plus the naming-rights issue.

The Marlins recently made a significant front-office hire that they expect to help on that front: David Oxfeld as vice president/head of corporate partnerships. For the previous five years, Oxfeld worked with Casey Close, Jeter's longtime agent, at Excel Sports Management, where Oxfeld was vice president of client sales and business development. He was effectively an endorsement seller for Close and other Excel agents' athletes.

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