Fishy Decision for Miami’s Marlins

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White Marlin in North Caorlina, by flickr user Dominic Sherony, licensed by Creative Commons.

Gone Fishin’

The beauty of sportsmanship is trying to out-perform and out-think the competition. A baseball team based in Florida is now trying to claim that, legally, their ownership group is based in the British Virgin Islands. This would mean that any governance by the United States or Florida would not have jurisdiction, and any decisions would have to be filed in Island nation. This would also take a recent lawsuit brought against the Miami Marlins and their former owner, Jeffrey Loria, and essentially throw it overboard. Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami itself are seeking compensation after Loria allegedly over-promised, under-delivered, than sold the Major League Baseball franchise for $1.2 billion.

The ownership group, Abenue Ltd. is the overall parent group which eventually trickles down to the holding firm of the baseball team itself, which was formed by former New York Yankees shortstop and future MLB Hall of Famer, Derek Jeter (among others). Abenue Ltd. happens to be based in the British Virgin Islands, which is a legitimate loophole that many companies use to find tax relief in the United States. Judges and law-makers in Florida are not thrilled with the proposed counter-move by the Marlins former and current ownership groups. Reports are saying they are “laughing it off”. While no number was specified, the lawsuit is seeking several million dollars.

It remains to be seen how quickly city, county, or state will find a victory over the Marlins, who were recently renamed from “The Florida Marlins” to “The Miami Marlins”. The team built a brand new stadium, and redesigned their logos and uniforms, seemingly to renew fan interest which had been fading for several years. The sentiment in south Florida was that the owner, Jeffrey Loria, was concerned only with money and running the team as a business, instead of trying to build a successful on-field product that resulted in winning baseball. The sale of the team for over $1b puts to rest any claims by Loria’s lawyers that he took at least a $100m loss in the team’s sale (if that were true, I would suggest someone hire an accountant, or better lawyers). Doubtful that the Marlins can get away with claiming residence in the British Virgin Island; it seems very much like a swinging strike 3.