The Miami Marlins, a Ponzi scheme operated by Major League Baseball's premier flip-phone enthusiast, made national headlines last week after New Times reported that the team was suing at least nine season ticket holders and even trying to seize one fan's building. The team is such a noxious trash heap that it's natural to overlook the transgressions of every other franchise in town.
But the Miami Heat and their multibillionaire owner Mickey Arison have also screwed over Dade County from time to time. Arison, who is worth more than $9 billion, spent years avoiding paying the county millions in rent for a stadium on public land by using creative accounting to claim losses on his hugely successful basketball team.
And now, sure enough, the Heat is also suing at least a couple of fans in Miami-Dade civil court over season ticket disputes.
Before the anti-Loria crowd marches on American Airlines Arena, though, there are a few important caveats to the Heat lawsuits. Many of the season ticket holders sued by the Marlins walked away from multiyear pledges because they say the team reneged on promises, like private stadium entrance and premium parking, after the Marlins' first year in Little Havana.
That's not the case in the Heat's two open lawsuits, which were filed by Basketball Properties Ltd., the Miami Heat offshoot that runs the stadium.
The first case, filed in March 2016, targets Arnaldo Hernandez and Transworld International Services Ltd., which signed up for a three-year season ticket package starting on July 1, 2013, for $37,400 per year. Hernandez didn't pay for the 2015-16 season, the Heat claims in civil court. The two sides agreed to mediation last month.
The second case, filed last August, is against Brandy Coletta, who is managing partner at Design District restaurant MC Kitchen. The Heat says she owes $321,364.41 on a season ticket package she bought in 2013.
Neither a Heat spokesperson nor Robin Moselle, the lawyer representing the team in the lawsuits, responded to multiple messages from New Times. Coletta likewise didn't respond to multiple messages left through her restaurant; Hernandez's attorney declined to comment for this story.
On the surface, these suits appear substantially different from Jeffrey Loria's latest attempt to win the title of America's greediest sports owner. Nothing in the court filings suggests that either fan felt the team didn't live up to its season ticket promises. And the Heat isn't fresh off destroying taxpayers in perhaps the worst stadium deal in American history.
Still, Miami sports teams, stop suing your fans.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.