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.