As the curtain rises on Major League Baseball's first All-Star Week in South Florida, the sun may be setting on a couple of prominent suitors in the quest to buy the host team.
The group headlined by Tagg Romney, son of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has dropped out of the bidding and Derek Jeter's quest for the team is on shaky ground after losing a major investor, the New York Post reported Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the day Marlins president David Samson dodged a question about the status of the potential sale during a preview tour of All-Star FanFest at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
"This week from now till Wednesday it's really about the All-Star Game," Samson said. "It's about the focus on the great players we get to watch. There's events truly all over the South Florida community. So that's really my focus on that."
Jeter, the popular former New York Yankees shortstop, has been considered the favorite of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to purchase the team, but he has struggled raising enough money to meet asking price of $1.3 billion. Jeter's desire to control the operation of the team despite only contributing a limited amount to the bid was reportedly the reason former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush abandoned their partnership in May.
The same issue may have prompted the departure of Chicago billionaire Richard Chaifetz, the New York Post wrote. The paper quoted sources saying that Bruce Sherman, a co-founder of Legg Mason's money management firm Private Capital Management, will pick up some of the void.
But if Romney is out — his group also included New York financier Wayne Rothbaum and Bush — and with Jeter struggling for weeks to gather funding, the door may be open for Miami billionaire Jorge Mas, who emerged with a separate bid recently, a source confirmed to the Sun Sentinel.
Mas is the Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of MasTec, an infrastructure engineering and construction company based in Coral Gables, and Chairman of the Board of the Cuban American National Foundation. He's one of three sons of the late Jorge Mas Canosa, a Cuban-American immigrant who founded MasTec and CANF.
The major question with Mas is whether he is willing to meet Loria's asking price.
Loria, 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry. The Marlins confirmed in February the team was for sale.
The MLB commissioner's office wants the purchasing group to demonstrate it has enough cash both to close the deal and operate the team.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that he was hoping to know the identity of a new Marlins owner by late July.