Buying the Miami Marlins is one thing. Making the investment a success if another. While the news of which ownership group will be awarded the South Florida team isn’t known yet, one former professional sports owner is offering a bit of advice to whomever wins the bidding war.
Dallas businessman Frank Zaccanelli sees similarities in the challenge he undertook as minority owner of the Dallas Mavericks when a group headed by Ross Perot Jr., took over the then-moribund franchise from 1996 until 2000. In a piece by Sun Sentinel reporter Craig Davis, Zaccanelli outlines what has to happen for this deal to work for the organization, Major League Baseball and the fans.
To say the relationship between current owner Jeffrey Loria and the fans in Miami is rocky is being kind. Loria is regarded as one of the most hated men in sports and one of the worst owners of any professional sports team in America.
“I would say the Marlins situation is not quite as bad as what the Mavericks’ situation was, but it’s not good. When a team is not doing good over a long period of time the culture becomes bad. It becomes a losing culture,” Zaccanelli said in a phone interview Wednesday. “That was the biggest hurdle that Ross Perot Jr. and I faced.”
In Zaccanelli’s opinion, the group headed by Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush would be best equipped to accomplish that. He acknowledges ties to the Bush family, though he is better acquainted with former President George W. Bush than Jeb, and says he has no direct knowledge about the bid to buy the Marlins.
There are others involved in the process. Bush said he does believe a decision on ownership will be made soon. Davis wrote Jeter and Bush are among a syndicate vying for the team against a group headed by Tagg Romney that includes Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. A source told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday that the Romney group has submitted a bid slightly higher than the $1.3 billion bid of Bush and Jeter.
Before approving a sale, Major League Baseball will weigh the competing groups’ financial resources not only for purchasing the team but for being able to run it effectively.
The news of Loria’s intention to sell the team was made known as early as last year when there were reports that Mitt Romney may have interest himself in being part of a group that bought the team. Bush made inquiries into buying the team as far back as 2013.
Once the sale is complete (needing 75-percent approval from MLB), then comes the part where the ownership group must change the culture in Miami. The fans deserve a better brand, with an organization what wants baseball to succeed in the city and in the community. Both groups are tasked with having to make changes for the better.
Zaccanelli acknowledges it will not be an easy task.
“There are only two ways to change the culture,” Zaccanelli said. “One is you have to change some of the people. You don’t have to change all the people but you have to change some of the management team in order to make that happen.
“As owners you have to be able to instill into the team that you put together the understanding that you’re going to do everything that it takes in order to win. That includes, in professional sports, you’re going to have to spend a little bit of money.”