Jeffrey Loria, who purchased the Miami Marlins in 2002 and owned the team for 15 years, has spoken out against Derek Jeter’s tenure as part of the team’s ownership group in a recent interview with the Miami Herald.
Loria, who sold the Marlins to the Jeter-led group in 2017, claimed that the Yankees legend “destroyed the ballpark.”
One of the central points of contention for Loria was Jeter’s decision to remove a beloved sculpture that celebrated Marlins’ home runs and victories.
The sculpture, a vibrant creation designed by artist Red Grooms, featured mechanical marlins spinning, seagulls soaring, pelicans dancing, and a lively fountain spray, all synchronized in a 29-second spectacle.
Loria criticized Jeter for “destroying public art” and called the removal a “horrible thing to do.”
Former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is still not over Derek Jeter removing the home run sculpture pic.twitter.com/hfgvDOqIWh
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 15, 2023
Loria revealed that the sculpture was a result of a $2.5 million contract between artist Red Grooms and Miami-Dade County.
The Marlins former owner expressed his disappointment that the artwork was now relegated to an outside plaza near the stadium, stating: “I asked the artist about getting it back, and I told him I would help him find a new home for it. He didn’t want to get involved. Now it will rot outside where it is…condemned to neglect and outdoor decay.”
Beyond the removal of the iconic sculpture, Loria took issue with other changes that occurred during Jeter’s tenure in the Marlins front office. Loria lamented the alterations to the ballpark’s aesthetics, including the covering up of colorful tiles imported from Europe.
These tiles, in Loria’s view, represented the cultural essence of Miami, and their replacement with blue elements was deemed “ridiculous” by the former owner.
Additionally, Loria criticized the removal of amenities like the fish tanks behind home plate, which were initially intended for young fans.
Jeter stepped down from his role as Marlins CEO and sold his shares of the franchise in February 2022. The changes made during his time in the Marlins ownership have sparked a debate over the legacy of his tenure, which is largely considered a failure.
What do you think about Loria’s comments?