Last week, the state of Florida dealt with one of the worst hurricanes since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean and tore through Florida, resulting in over 80 deaths and lots of flooding.
Just like with Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, many have done extraordinary things to help those in need, and sports teams are no exception. Particularly in Miami, the local pro sports teams have donated millions for their neighbors who now have to rebuild. The Miami Marlins are conspicuously absent from all this goodwill.
This isn’t to say the Marlins have done nothing. For Harvey relief, the Marlins helped raise money and took in goods for the Red Cross to give to those in Texas. And for Irma, the Marlins offered free tickets to local first responders. But compared to what other teams are doing, the Marlins are looking incredibly cheap.
As noted by the Miami New Times, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is donating $1 million and plans to raise more with AARP for low-income and retirees in the area affected. The Florida Panthers donated $1 million, and the Tampa Bay Lightning and NHL players union joined for a $2.7 million donation. Miami Heat owner Micky Arison is donating $2.5 million that will go up to $10 million through the Heat’s charitable foundation and Carnival Cruises, which Arison also owns.
The Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria, however doesn’t seem to have donated a dime for hurricane efforts. Everyone knows Loria is a terrible sports owner, and many don’t like him as a person either, but is he really that terrible of a guy to do the bare minimum and only offer tickets to first responders and let players’ families travel with the players?
Maybe the impending sale of the Marlins to Derek Jeter’s group is the reason why Loria isn’t donating. Two possible explanations could explain it. One could be that with the sale pending, Loria and the team cannot donate, though I find that unlikely. The other explanation is that because of the pending sale, Loria’s goodwill of donating money to those in Miami would go toward the new owners, so that great PR would go to waste.
Maybe Loria donated privately because donating is the right thing to do and whether he receives credit or not is irrelevant. But I kind of doubt that, when news about giving first responders free tickets and flying family members of players wasn’t kept private very long. It seems that either nothing was donated or something would have leaked by now.
Let’s just call it for what this is. Jeffrey Loria is a businessman, and likely has the mindset that any kind of goodwill gesture needs to be publicly rewarded in good PR. Just about anything he’s done since buying the Marlins would tell you that. Granted, Loria isn’t the only sports team owner who has that mindset, but if the other Miami owners do, they still donated. And whether they are donating millions because it’s the right thing to do or because they only want positive PR, the money still goes to those who need it.
For Loria, apparently you can ask the people for half a billion to build a new stadium in order to sell your team for profit, but when the people ask you for some money, suddenly you’re nowhere to be found.