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On March 7, 1990, Wayne Huizenga, CEO of Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation, announced he had purchased 15 percent of the NFL's Miami Dolphins and 50 percent of the Dolphins' home, Joe Robbie Stadium, for an estimated $30 million. Huizenga stated his intention to pursue an expansion franchise aggressively. MLB had announced a few months earlier that it intended to add two new teams to the National League. It was a foregone conclusion that one of them would be placed in Florida; the only question was whether Huizenga would beat out competing groups from Orlando and Tampa Bay. Orlando fielded a very spirited campaign bolstered by its family-oriented tourism industry. Tampa Bay already had a baseball park—the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, completed in 1990. However, on June 10, 1991, the National League awarded a Miami-based franchise to Huizenga for a $95 million expansion fee. One name considered early on was the Florida Flamingos.
For the first 19 years of its existence, the team has played its home games at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens where they will stay until 2011. In 2012, they will move into newly constructed Marlins Ballpark in Little Havana, Florida, where the Marlins will change their name and uniforms and become the Miami Marlins in their 20th season in Major League Baseball.
During their history, the Marlins have won two World Series titles (1997 and 2003), two National League pennants (1997, 2003), all via the Wild Card. The Florida Marlins have yet to clinch a National League East division title in their history. Their two championships equal the tally of the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets for the most titles among expansion teams.
The Marlins have been notorious for low attendance figures in recent years, especially in the new millennium. After being within the top ten in the National League in attendance for the first five seasons, they have been 13th or worse since 1998, primarily stemming from the teams first fire sale shortly after the 1997 World Series. In 1998, the team slumped to 54–108, the worst record in the major leagues that year, and the most losses in franchise history. They are the only team to lose 100 games a year after winning the World Series. Wayne Huizenga soon sold the club to John Henry, a commodities trader from Boca Raton, during the off-season.
The Marlins had the second overall pick in the 1999 draft and drafted Josh Beckett from the state of Texas. The franchise was a non factor in the standings for the first part of the new millennium. In 2002, as part of an orchestrated move with Bud Selig and then-Marlins owner John W. Henry sold the Marlins to Jeffrey Loria for $158.5 million, including a $38.5 million no-interest loan from MLB. The deal was approved by the other owners before Loria and Henry even signed a contract, and paved the way for Henry to buy the Boston Red Sox. New ownership (Jeffrey Loria) and front office (Larry Beinfest, Michael Hill and David Samson) began a remodeling of the franchise. The team acquired players Juan Pierre, Carl Pavano, and Dontrelle Willis through a series of trades following the new front office but 2002 was also the same season where they team had the lowest annual attendance in the history of the Marlins.
During the 2003 season, the Marlins were ready to compete but started off slow, firing their manager Jeff Torberg and hiring Jack McKeon who delivered. The franchise pulled off one of the most important deals in the history of the ballclub by dealing their number one draft pick from the 2000 draft, Adrian Gonzalez, to the Texas Rangers for Ugueth Urbina who would prove to patch the Marlins bullpen down the stretch. In 2003, the Marlins won their second World Series title and it brought back hopes for a new stadium deal to be approved. When talks broke down in 2005, the franchise pulled off the infamous "Market Correction", which included a series of trades. The franchise has been last in the National League in attendance since the Market Correction.
The Market Correction yielded a wave of new players which would signal a new era in Marlins history. In one of the trades, considered one of the best in team history, the Marlins acquired Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez from the Red Sox for World Series MVP Josh Beckett and fan favorite Mike Lowell. The Marlins would be a sub .500 team for two seasons (2006, 2007) following the Market Correction and in a span of three seasons (2005–2007), the team had three different managers (Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi, and Fredi Gonzalez). The franchise got back to .500 baseball in 2008 and 2009, staying in the playoff chase until the middle of September. In 2010, the Marlins continued the same trend in having a new manager when they fired Fredi Gonzalez midseason and gave Edwin Rodriguez the job through the remainder of the season and the 2011 season.
Since 2006, the Marlins have built their team on a young nucleus of players which has included Dan Uggla, Mike Stanton, Chris Coghlan, Logan Morrison, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Chris Volstad. Still the franchise has become notorious for dealing players when their contracts grow larger than the team can handle, this included the blockbuster deal which had fan favorites Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis dealt to the Detroit Tigers for six players. The deal has been dubbed by many fans and writers as the worst trade in franchise history considering the Marlins have since dealt the key pieces to the trade, pitcher Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin. The Marlins have also traded players such as Mike Jacobs, Scott Olsen, Josh Willingham and the aforementioned Dan Uggla who denied a team offered contract extension over the length of it. With a new stadium on the horizon, the 2010 offseason marked a change in direction for the franchise, as they became buyers all over in anticipation of a higher payroll and more revenue, bringing in several relief pitchers (Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb, and Michael Dunn among them) to revamp a depleted bullpen, All-Stars John Buck and Omar Infante, as well as veteran starter Javier Vazquez.
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