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| Columns |

Jeffrey Loria Owes It to Miami to Sell the Marlins Before Next March

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Jeffrey Loria is about to get away with the heist of the century, and there is nothing anyone can do. With the Marlins reportedly on the verge of a sale that would net the team's owner more than $1 billion in profit off his initial $158.5 million investment in 2002, Loria is the big winner.

The City of Miami and Marlins fans will fist-pump in joy when the deal is finalized, but both are the big losers after funding his boondoggle of a ballpark. For the entire Loria ownership era, all they got was this expensive stadium, a splashy new logo, and a T-shirt. Being robbed blind never felt so good.

But there is one way Loria can at least leave everyone some nice flowers as he darts off to a random European art show with his big black bag of cash: He can sell sooner rather than later. In fact, Loria owes it to Miami to sell the team before next March, when he is no longer contractually obligated to pay the city a dime out of the proceeds.

According to the Miami Herald, any sale of the team before March 2018 would mean the City of Miami is entitled to 5 percent of any profits the team makes in a sale. Profits would be based on a $250 million valuation of the team in 2009, growing by 8 percent a year.

This number has been gradually declining for years, so it's a shock to no one that Loria is suddenly running to the cash-out window the moment all of his winnings are his to keep. It doesn't have to be this way, though.

Loria is well aware he is hated in Miami. He is looked at as a cancerous owner who time and time again let his greed and ego get in the way of what was best for the team and, in a larger sense, the health of baseball in South Florida. He's also, rightly, viewed as a serial liar who deliberately underplayed his profits to bilk taxpayers for a new stadium.

The Marlins have long gone well past the stage of regularly outraging their fans (probably somewhere around the point when the team began regularly suing them). These days, most Fish fans feel something closer to rock-bottom apathy. Many South Floridians who grew up loving baseball and the Marlins now barely bother to catch the scores of the games on social media. To many, Loria murdered their love for the sport.

At the very least, he owes Miamians a minimal cut of the huge profits he'll make to offset the massive bill they will have to pay for decades to come. Sure, for Miami that would be like finding a thank-you card filled with $500 after someone robbed our life savings, but at least we'd have something to show for the worst financial con in city history.

If Loria wants to wait until March 2018 to sell the team so he can keep every last dime of the profits, no one would be shocked. But if he cares anything about the city that made him a billion dollars, he would let us in on a small part of the deal.

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