A group led by New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter has won the race to acquire Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Miami Marlins after striking a deal worth $1.2bn (€1.03bn).
Marlins president David Samson confirmed on Saturday that a deal had been reached for current owner Jeffrey Loria to sell to the group led by Jeter (pictured) and billionaire businessman Bruce Sherman, with their bid prevailing over a rival offer from Miami businessman Jorge Mas. A rival offer headed up by Tagg Romney, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had earlier fallen by the wayside.
MLB owners are now set to discuss the takeover at meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. Three-quarters of club owners must approve the deal, but this vote is expected to take place in a few weeks’ time. The Sherman/Jeter group reportedly has about 16 investors, according to the Miami Herald newspaper, with MLB.com reporting that Jeter is sinking $25m into the purchase. The Associated Press news agency added that NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Bobcats, has secured a small stake as part of the ownership group.
Samson said, according to the Herald: “Bruce Sherman truly is a man that has a passion for baseball and a love of baseball. Derek Jeter is an incredibly capable individual. Forget what he did on the field; that’s not relevant anymore. He’s incredibly capable off the field. I’ve gotten to know him through this process, and he is an incredibly interesting, articulate, smart, contemplative individual. Forget Hall of Famer. It’s not about that. It’s about his ability to run a team and his desire to run a team. It came through so clearly what he wanted and we were able to finish a deal. Thinking about what it would mean for our community and our fans, it just made the most sense.”
Samson also moved to reject talk that Mas will be part of the Jeter/Samson ownership group. “Jorge Mas is a personal friend, someone I’ve known for 15 years who I’m close to – he is not part of the group (and) he will not be part of the group,” Samson said. “There are no discussions for him to be part of the group. He was a competing group. He did not prevail.
“That doesn’t change the fact he’s an important part of this community, an important member of our fan base, a season-ticket holder and just an important man in this community. But he is not part of this group. Jorge Mas is not part of the group that Major League Baseball will be voting on in the coming weeks.”
Loria acquired the Marlins for $158.5m in 2002 from John Henry, who is part of the ownership group at rival MLB franchise the Boston Red Sox.