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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Marlins Threaten To Sue Longtime Season-Ticket Holders Who Complained About View-Obscuring Sign

“Pooped on Fans’ Feelings” grab it fast or I’m naming my next spychedelic band!

First, the Marlins alienated every taxpayer in Miami with their stadium deal. Then they pissed off every casual fan with a mass offseason firesale. Now, the team is burning bridges with the only true-blue Fish fanatics left—their longtime seasons-ticket holders.

That’s how Jan and Bill Leon are feeling, at least. The couple has paid tens of thousands for front-row season tickets since 1998. But last year, after the team installed an obtrusive billboard that blocks their view and dangerously obscures ground balls, the Leons asked to move into a different section. Their reward? A lawsuit threat.

“They’ve pooped on fans’ feelings for years,” Jan Leon says. “These seats are not what we paid for.”

Jan and Bill Leon may well have seen more Miami baseball in person than Billy the Marlin. The couple are baseball fanatics—Bill used to coach elite teenage club teams—passionate enough about the game to sit through dozens of rain delays a summer at Sun Life Stadium. They attended every World Series game during the good years and plenty of sweaty 95-degree blowouts in the bad years.

“I’d go to 81 games a year if I could,” says Jan Leon, who estimates she actually makes at least 40.

So when the Marlins moved to their new home in Little Havana last year, the Leons—who own a real estate company—made what they thought was a verbal agreement with a sale rep: They’d buy a two-season package (for $25,000 a year) with the option of changing seats after the first year if they didn’t like them.

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:15 PM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, marlins

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4391394)
Q: Why did the scorpion bite the frog even though he would drown?
A: Because he is a scorpion.
   2. GregD Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4391395)
Is there a better-run organization in baseball today?
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4391407)
A misleading headline (the fans are being threatened with a lawsuit for not paying for the tickets they committed to buy, not for complaining about the sign) but still this seems like a terrible business decision. It's not like there's a shortage of other empty seats you could move these fans to.
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4391411)
The story leaves a lot of useful stuff out. They have a picture of the view these folks had before the billboard went in but not one with the new view. Also, I assume the Leons are not paying their season ticket bill and that is what they are being sued for. Without seeing how much the view has changed it's impossible to say that they are in the right (though it's Loria so they probably are).
   5. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4391421)
They have a picture of the view these folks had before the billboard went in but not one with the new view.


The second picture is the new view. The "obstruction" makes the fence maybe three inches higher.
   6. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4391422)
How does that work? They had a meeting and then somebody (Samson?) suggested they should sue the Leons and everybody thought this was ok? How can that be?
   7. Cris E Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4391427)
#5 has it, and it's not a big deal.

ON THE OTHER HAND...

...Samson is running a business with a pile of unsold merchandise, an image problem, and a dwindling number of loyal customers. What the Hell is going on?
   8. Randy Jones Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4391431)
I agree that the obstruction is pretty damn minor, still, they apparently asked to change their seats (Which they believe they could do as part of the contract) and were turned down. Why not just let them change seats and keep them happy?
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4391433)
Why don't they take that whole ####### franchise and just put a torch to it? Whose bright idea was it to locate a Major League team in Florida in the first place?
   10. spycake Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4391434)
I wonder if part of the problem is that there aren't comparable seats to move them to. From the photos, these are front row roughly in a straight line with the pitcher's mound and first and third base. Are the fans willing to move back a row? Or further down the line, or to the other side of the diamond?

The "option" to change seats sounds reasonable, but even for the Marlins, I'm guessing front-row season tickets aren't too easy to come by, particularly in this section of the ballpark.
   11. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4391441)
Why don't they take that whole ####### franchise and just put a torch to it


And give up all that guaranteed free money in perpetuity? Surely you'll never become a fabulously wealthy hero of capitalism with that attitude.
   12. McCoy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 01:57 PM (#4391442)
Why not just let them change seats and keep them happy?

Probably because there are no other front row seats available either in their price range, to their liking, or up for sale.
   13. JJ1986 Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4391445)
I am quite curious how the writer got "dangerously obscures ground balls" from those pictures.
   14. John Northey Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4391449)
One would think they'd try their hardest to find an alternate seating arrangement, even if there wasn't the sell off and horrid publicity this past offseason. C'mon, how hard could it be?

I just checked for opening day tickets - 2 seats, best possible, and got row 20 behind home plate. How crazy is that? I mean, that is the game everyone wants to go to, even Montreal would get big crowds for that game. It only moves up 6 rows for the 2nd game - normally one of the lowest attended games. Ick.

Just checked, in their last season the Expos got just 14k to opening night. I suspect the Marlins will paper it to ensure they aren't that low, but next year? In 2002 the Expos had 34k for opening night - bet the Marlins don't beat that (would need a near sellout with 36k seats).
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4391481)
The "obstruction" makes the fence maybe three inches higher.


They should've asked David Samson to sit in the seats - he wouldn't even be able to see the field.
   16. OsunaSakata Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4391511)
Jeffrey Loria is getting advice from Dan Snyder.
   17. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4391516)
Bad PR, but you'd think real estate people would get their option to move in writing.
   18. crict Posted: March 19, 2013 at 02:56 PM (#4391565)
Just checked, in their last season the Expos got just 14k to opening night.


That was in Puerto Rico. The first game in Montreal was April 23rd that year, when the team was already 4-12. Attendance was 30,112.
   19. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4391649)
That’s how Jan and Bill Leon are feeling, at least. The couple has paid tens of thousands for front-row season tickets since 1998.

Well, you know what they say: A fool and his money...were lucky ever to have come together in the first place.
   20. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:44 PM (#4391653)
I keep waiting for Jeffrey Loria to take his rubber mask off and reveal himself to actually be Rachel Phelps
   21. Willie Mayspedes Posted: March 19, 2013 at 03:50 PM (#4391664)
The second picture is the new view. The "obstruction" makes the fence maybe three inches higher.


Ya plus about ten camera people lollygagging around!
   22. John Northey Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4391686)
Thanks crict - forgot about those Puerto Rico games. Wonder if the final Expos home opener will be higher than the Marlins 2013 opener? 30,112 is the number to beat.
   23. Bhaakon Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4391712)
The second picture is the new view. The "obstruction" makes the fence maybe three inches higher.


If the drink holders on the wall are at roughly armrest height, then I could see those 3 inches being a big deal for spectators of below-average height. Not view ruining, but enough that you'd have to crane your neck to get a clear view of a close play at third, which is certainly far less than one would expect for 25K.
   24. dr. scott Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4391722)
Well I guess they feel if they move these guys, then everyone will want to move. It's a big billboard.

I'm guessing these people are a bit short.
   25. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 19, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4391748)
If the couple say they are afraid of getting hit by a batted ball, I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt, particularly if they are elderly.

And here is the original article, which adds additional info, including an update containing the Marlins response.
   26. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4391764)
Are the fans willing to move back a row? Or further down the line, or to the other side of the diamond?
Yes
So when the season ended, she let the sales staff know they wouldn't pay for their second season's seats unless they were moved farther down the third-base line, away from the sign.
   27. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4391765)
And the Marlins' classy response

Really, if the seats are really worth $25K/yr, you'd think the Marlins would have someone else ready to buy them.
   28. Bhaakon Posted: March 19, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4391811)
Really, if the seats are really worth $25K/yr, you'd think the Marlins would have someone else ready to buy them.


They might have been worth 25K a year when they couple signed the contract. I think the couple reveals some of their true feelings in this quote:

"I have no intention of renewing. They're a Double-A team now. It went down the toilet when they sold off all the players."


Which is to say that, legitimate complaint or not, the couple's preferred outcome is to be let out of their two-year contract.
   29. Shredder Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4391845)
Loria and Samson have crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy.
   30. McCoy Posted: March 19, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4391857)
I'd say the billboard is just an excuse to get out of the contract. The couple doesn't say they can see plays being made. They claim that they have to lean in a bit to see baseball on the ground in foul territory near the fence.

They locked themselves into a package of tickets because the team got a shiny new park and a bunch of shiny FA came to town so they thought they were getting a deal.
   31. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4391864)
so they thought they were getting a deal.


They've apparently been season tix holders for quite a few years...

Also for most teams if a season ticket holder wants out the team lets them out, but then again most teams can re-sell the same package to someone else.


   32. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:13 PM (#4391874)
Uh, am I missing something, that's like a really small difference in height. Besides, I'd be happy to have the extra protection for my beer and nachos that I can put on the wall behind the padding.
   33. John Northey Posted: March 19, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4391891)
Someone is fibbing it seems - Marlins say they have offered alternate seats, the couple says they are willing to move yet no agreement has occurred.

No matter what it looks bad on the Marlins in the end, even if the couple did decide to be pains and refuse any other seats.
   34. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 19, 2013 at 08:13 PM (#4391918)
ok, how many seat disputes of a similar nature have been posted on bbtf? like fans in pittsburgh at some point didn't feel like they got short shrift? kansas city? seattle? chicago cubs? mets?

don't recall any. why? because clubs, like most other businesses, don't let things escalate to this level because they understand that one customer b8tching to high heaven offsets the many who are satisfied

i think the posters here throwing stones at teh couple are just looking to be contrary. and failing miserably in the attempt
   35. RollingWave Posted: March 19, 2013 at 08:58 PM (#4391982)
not sure if this is more ugly or the Astro owner's asking fans to write him a check so he can spend more on the team.
   36. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 19, 2013 at 10:38 PM (#4392108)
i think the posters here throwing stones at teh couple are just looking to be contrary. and failing miserably in the attempt


Well since this appears to be directed at me, then I'm happy to respond. No, I'm not just trying to be contrary.

First of all, I agree that the Marlin management has done a horrible job at handling this situation. They should have addressed the couple's needs on the quiet and come up with a workable solution.

However, from those photos in the link, the height difference is tiny and I think the couple is being pedantic. If those were my seats, and I'm basing this on the photos, that extra few inches wouldn't make a difference to me at all.

Now if the couple wants to complain about how they sold off all their good players besides Stanton, then that I will listen to.
   37. Sunday silence Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:37 AM (#4392194)
this couple is not doing their argument any favors by complaining about the quality of the team. It makes them sound like they just dont like the club and the view thing is an excuse.

The other argument I dont understand is they are saying that there is a danger of balls hitting the warning track and bouncing into the stands. But that didnt come about because of the sign did it? I guess they are saying that the sign makes it harder to see line drive fouls coming down the line? But it seems like this would have always been a danger.
   38. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4392498)
1. People pay $25,000 a year for Marlins season tickets??? They should get padded seats, for multiple reasons.
2. How 'bout just keeping those tickets, but when you get to the game, sit in the empty row directly behind your seats. Or the empty row directly behind that one. Or the empty row directly behind that one. Or the empty row directly behind that one...you see where I'm going with this.
   39. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4392511)
hugh

it was directed at multiple posters

but it's not uncommon for seats like that to be recessed down meaning that when you sit down a few inches take you from a clear line of site of the playing field to having your view cropped. (i do not know if that is the case here)

if so then the view shown may not be entirely accurate.

and what if he and she are both short? if someone is 5'6" those few inches make a difference versus if they were 6'

and if the view is cropped then what they mention about foul balls in their direction does become germane.

and again, the marlins have a long history of not being consumer friendly. i think in any dispute between this club's management and a fan one has to put the club in the position of defending their position versus poking small holes in the fan's view of the disagreement.

i also think the couple has been targeted because they are more forthcoming in their version than the club



   40. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4392549)
and if the view is cropped then what they mention about foul balls in their direction does become germane.


Or maybe the raised padding gives them more protection and stops a ball or two that otherwise would have gone into the seats. Any ball they supposedly can't see would be low to begin with, the padding very easily could be a net positive for safety.

   41. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4392568)
jacksone

possible. but that isn't the reason the padding is there. it's part of some advertisement setup. nothing in what i have read on this matter has the marlins club stated a safety aspect

i ask, why are folks seeking to invent justifications for the marlins to impair a fan's viewing experience?



   42. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4392577)
People pay $25,000 a year for Marlins season tickets??? They should get padded seats cells

Fixed.
   43. bobm Posted: March 20, 2013 at 01:36 PM (#4392578)
<I>why are folks seeking to invent justifications for the marlins to impair a their fan's viewing experience? 

FTFY
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4392753)
That was what I was alluding to, RMc.
   45. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: March 22, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4394472)
Why is Loria allowed to own a baseball team in the first place? He's repeatedly proven himself a pustulent scab on the ass of MLB, and just keeps getting worse.

   46. villageidiom Posted: March 22, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4394544)
However, from those photos in the link, the height difference is tiny and I think the couple is being pedantic.
I agree that they're being pedantic, in that the game view is not materially obscured with the change. The team's path to victory has become obscured, and that's probably a larger sticking point.

But I'll give them this: The change not only raises the padding a couple inches, but it extends it out a foot or two. That will make it harder to see the foul territory, as they claim.

It's also worth noting, however, that the second photo is taken further back from the wall, which alone will obscure more of the foul territory. How much is obscured by the sign, and how much by the photographer's choice, I don't know. But that's not worth figuring out, because they have an excellent view with or without the sign. It's the team they have to view, and the price they have to pay for it, that is the real issue.
   47. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 22, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4394570)
I am against the Marlins, what are we discussing?

Seriously if there is any team that doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt it is that one. Of course the thread was won with the very first post which is brilliant.

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