Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is suing a former season-ticket holder in order to recoup funds the Marlins say they lost when the fan decided not to continue paying for his season tickets. Seriously. This franchise appears to have deep rooted problems on and off of the field. With a poor win/loss record, most savvy owners would focus on ways to improve the team and retain fans. This is not that story.
Loria is attempting to seize a $725,000 building owned by the fan as compensation. Rarely do you hear of a team suing their own fans but this isn’t the Marlins first legal battle with season-ticket holders who chose to renege on their season ticket contracts.
According to The Miami New Times, the Marlins have sued at least nine season-ticket holders and luxury suite owners since 2003. Loria’s actions against his own fans as an owner is unheard of. Daniel Rose, an attorney representing another former season-ticket holder locked in a legal battle with the team said he doesn’t understand how Loria is allowed to behave like this.
“I don’t understand why Major League Baseball continues to allow Jeffrey Loria to behave like this,” Rose said. “At the end of the day, what is the motive to go after fans like this? It just shows their greed and a complete lack of respect for their fan base.”
Even though the fans broke their contracts, it seems like the fans have good reasons for doing so. For one the team hasn’t had a winning season since 2009. They’re also being accused of failing to contractually uphold their promises on included perks such as pre- and postgame buffets, free parking, and VIP entrances at their new ballpark – which was opened in 2012.
Mickey Axelband, the fan being sued by Loria for his property, signed a four-year contract for season tickets in 2012 at $16,200 per ticket for a total price of $129,6000. Axelband argued that the Marlins failed to live up to their side of the bargain and did nothing about it.
“I didn’t want my money back or anything, but I said, ‘Please give me back the stuff you promised,'” longtime fan Mickey Axelband told New Times. “The answer I got back was basically, ‘Yeah, we know we took it all away, but tough shit.'”
Miami Marlins season-ticket holders typically pay a deposit for season tickets and can pay for full-season, half-season, or mini plans. Contracts on season tickets vary, but if the Marlins made promises and didn’t come through with those promises the fans will have to prove that.
The Marlins season-ticket page doesn’t say much about fans who stop paying for their season tickets. It does, however, talk about the Marlins ability to take your season tickets away from you.
“Miami Marlins, L.P. reserves the right to decline, reject, and/or cancel any purchase or purchaser for any reason in the Marlins’ sole reasonable discretion, including but not limited to, purchases not made in accordance with the Marlins’ applicable ticket sales policies, the terms and conditions applicable to ticket packages and ticket purchases of certain types, and the terms and conditions printed on the back of each ticket.”
Team owners in every major league sport reserve the right to take away season tickets from their fans for numerous reason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently revoked the membership of a 15-year season ticket holder for selling too many tickets online.
Most teams would normally just revoke the season ticket holders memberships a move on. But Loria has taken things to a new level, as he typically does.
According to New Times reporter Tim Elfrink, Loria has basically destroyed the relationship between the team and the fans. It’s so bad that he’s not sure the city will ever be able to recover.
“The Marlins have so deeply ruined the relationship with their fans that it’s a fair question whether professional baseball can ever recover in Miami,” Elfrink said.
The Marlins are currently last in attendance in the National League.
Kenneth Chase, a D.C.-based attorney representing the Marlins in the lawsuits, declined to comment on the situation. The Marlins have also remained quiet and have yet to release a statement.
Ironically, a lot of people will have their eyes on Miami and the Marlins this week as they are set to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game festivities. The Home Run Derby will take place tonight and the All-Star Game will be tomorrow.