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New York Developer Reportedly Has 'Handshake Agreement' To Buy Miami Marlins

Marlins Park in Miami

The Miami Marlins could be the next professional sports team to wind up in the hands of a real estate magnate.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who bought the team in 2002 for $158M, has a "handshake agreement" to sell the team to a New York-based real estate developer for $1.6B, Forbes reports. The developer reportedly would have to buy the team with "more debt than the MLB is comfortable with" because his assets are tied up in real estate holdings, not cash.

One of New York's most prominent developers is Related Cos. chairman Stephen Ross, who's leading the construction of the country's biggest development, Hudson Yards. Ross is the majority owner of the Miami Dolphins, but considering Related's portfolio and the smashing financial success of Hudson Yards, it is hard to envision him being described as lacking liquidity.

Major American sports teams changing hands, particularly baseball teams, is a rare occurrence. The last team to be sold was the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 for $2B to a group of partners led by hedge fund Guggenheim Partners. The Dodgers were placed on the market after their co-owners, Frank and Linda McCourt, filed for divorce.

Loria has been publicly floating the idea of selling the Marlins since last year. The team plays in Marlins Park, which was paid for entirely with taxpayer money. Since moving into the park in 2012, the team hasn't posted a winning record, and game attendance was last in MLB in 2016.