Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Marlins in Vegas? Like it. Don’t Like It.

If the Florida Marlins were smart they would be packing their bags for Vegas next year, if Major League Baseball would let them. Sure, there are plenty of risks involving moving a franchise to Vegas: Gambling, prostitution, excessive drinking and drug use, but common, I couldn’t imagine anything better for this franchise. Who doesn’t want a fan base filled with coked-up and drunk tourists who don’t really give a shit about the team? Wait a minute…that’s right, they want to go to Vegas to change the way things are.

Why Vegas?

For one thing, a move would look good for such a young and talented franchise. The Marlins have rid themselves of old, excess baggage such as Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado, and Mike Lowell, and can now start fresh—marketing a young franchise in a “juvenile” city. I know people of all ages go to Vegas, including kids, which still baffles me, but it is called the “adult playground” for a reason. Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez and Jason Vargas are young, talented players people enjoy watching, even tourists. This year the New York Mets have chosen an awful 1980's theme rap song,"our year, our time," as part of their 2006 marketing campaign. I could see it now: The Marlins entering the field to Madonna's "Like a Virgin." A match made in heaven.

Secondly, the team’s mascot could be any number of animate and inanimate objects ranging from a grimy 67-year-old hooker with no teeth, to a friendly Cowboy, or even a playing card, such as an Ace. Currently, the Dodgers have a farm team in Vegas called the 51's (after Area 51, apparently), which has your stereotypical pasty-white-giant-headed-black-eyed alien as their mascot. This is pretty lame, especially since this alien has baseball seams on its giant dome. My personal preference would be for The Jokers—comical, yet still intimidating.

Las Vegas also has an estimated 569,838 locals, and if you include the entire Las Vegas Metropolitan area, 1.6 million people. Las Vegas’ rapidly growing population has surpassed cities who already have ball clubs such as Washington D.C., Denver, and Boston. It also has over 30 million tourists visiting Sin City each year. That’s a lot of fucking people to support a ball club.

Right now, the Marlins/Jokers have a terrible lease with Wayne “I’d do anything I can to fuck you over” Huizenga. Huizenga owns the stadium, and television rights to the Marlins/Jokers, essentially, stripping Marlins/Jokers current owner, Jeffrey Loria of any, and all profit. Huizenga’s stadium lease ends in 2010, but even if the Marlins/Jokers move to Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter, have to pay Huizenga anyway. Basically, the Jokers would have to produce a shit load of revenue to turn any sort of profit. And there’s really only one city in the world capable of turning nothing into something. After all, that’s what this city was founded on, a plot of desolate, isolated sand where people could do whatever they want. I.E., drink their faces off and bang loose women all for a friendly day’s wage.

So here’s the plan. Loria would need to sell half his club to one of the Major Vegas players: the MGM group, Wynn, Sands Entertainment who can afford to build a stadium, but not just any stadium, a monstrosity of unholy debauchery. The capacity of the stadium is unimportant, so I’d keep it low, somewhere around 30,000 people. Not only will this make the stadium appear hip, but won’t get in the way of the stadium’s real revenue making source, the giant baseball themed gambling hall and hotel. That’s right—blow this thing up, turn it into a spectacle. There’s an Italian, Middle Eastern, French, and even treasure themed casinos, but there’s no baseball one. I realize that a lot of the focus would be taken away from the team, yet, I don’t doubt that people will still watch the games and love their franchise. In fact, it would probably increase the team’s popularity. Maybe only 30,000 pay for a ticket to watch the game, but there’s still another 30,000 inside the “stadium” to soak in advertising. Stadium club seats could surround the outfield ala the Chicago Cubs fans who pay the Tribune company for their outfield apartment seats. Put the stadium just off the strip with free, and frequent, bus rides. It would be perfect.

Except for…

Among other things, this would cause turmoil between other baseball franchises that aren’t seeing any of the revenue generated from the casino and hotel. That’s why none of the profit from gambling could be used towards building the team in any way—players, advertising, etc. Instead, the team would have to build their club around the revenue generated from ticket, merchandize, and beverage and food sales, just like every team. Where I see this plan working is that the Casino/Hotel could attract people who may eventually become fans. It sticks with Vegas’ main themes. For instance, when the MGM grand hosts a Heavyweight Title Fight, not only is the grand arena bumping, but MGM as a whole. The event helps advertise the casino, and the casino helps advertise the event. The two feed off each other.

Why not?

Christ, it’s not like the above plan would ever actually fly. As much as it is among one of my dirtiest fantasies to think about shooting craps and drinking martinis between innings, and then screwing a prostitute during the seventh inning stretch legally (just kidding mom), I’m a realist, and this plan ain’t real.

Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue when the Royals come to town? Mike Sweeney leaving the Church of Latter Day Saints for a Thaiwanese hooker with a fat ass; Zach Greinke scavenging the city for a Brad Pitt look alike, and the rest of the team getting as drunk as humanly possible to forget that they play for the Royals.

I don’t think a move to Vegas would be a good idea because the only way I see it working is with the scenario I explained above (way above, section 1). Las Vegas is a city based on tourism. While it certainly has enough local fans to support a home team, a majority of that population is working strange and long hours for the city itself, and aren’t the ones the economy relies upon. Tourists would be the ones going to most of the games, and I don’t see many people skipping on Rain (below) to go see the Jokers play the Indians under normal circumstances in a normal stadium.

This is ultimately why it will never work in this city, and should stop being considered as a destination for the Marlins. Baseball is known as a game filled with integrity and pride. It is America’s national pastime and therefore, the league is frightened, for better or worse, to make a move like this to a city known for…well, what it’s known for. Look at how steroids have scared the league all ready. There’s only one way to go Vegas—and that’s hard. If you don’t go hard, you might as well not go at all.


Anonymous Pete said...

Good stuff, but 11 paragraphs. As you would say "I mean common!"

10:08 AM  
Blogger Sandro said...

If it's too intellectually stimulating for you geekboy, tough luck.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

Its too intellectually stimulating for me....but then again I write fucking treatises on my blog that I'm postive no one reads beyond paragraph 6. Fight the good fight Sandro, fight the good fight.

3:48 PM  
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