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Have the Marlins sunk the Cubs' plans?

November 18, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

The Miami Marlins' losses might wind up being the city of Chicago's gain, specifically when it comes to the millions in taxpayer dollars the Ricketts family is eyeing to help fund Wrigley Field renovations.

That's because Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria all but ensured the end of taxpayer-funded stadiums last week by holding a fire sale.

For years, Loria had said the team needed a new ballpark if it was going to be competitive in free agency, and the Marlins were initially. Heading into their first season in a new stadium that will eventually cost cash-strapped Miami-Dade County billions (that's with a "B") of dollars once all the debt is paid off, the Marlins made an attempt at being competitive by signing a number of big-money free agents.

However, when it became clear the Marlins weren't going to contend for a playoff spot in 2012, the team began shedding salaries.

Early last week, the roster demolition became complete.

The Marlins traded nearly everyone making any kind of money, including former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, to Toronto in exchange for what amounts to a hill of magic beans. In the process, Miami's payroll plummeted from over $100 million on Opening Day 2012 to around $20 million today.

The trade accomplishes two things, neither of them good. By ridding themselves of most of the team's stars, the Marlins infuriated nearly every single taxpayer who helped fund that stadium, thus ensuring the stadium they paid for will remain empty next season.

They also ensured that local municipalities will be more wary of teams that claim to need taxpayer funding and return a big fat lemon once they receive that investment.

For that, Mayor Emanuel owes Loria a fruit basket this holiday season.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, on the other hand, could be forgiven if he were seen on Loria's front porch with a bag of dog poop in one hand and a cigarette lighter in the other.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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