Former Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has a lot of criticisms about Derek Jeter — and they’re not about his baseball prowess. Loria slammed Jeter for the “silly” changes he made to the Marlins’ LoanDepot Park.
“Jeter came in and destroyed the ballpark,” Loria, 82, told the Miami Herald in an interview published on Monday, August 14. Jeter, 49, was CEO of the Miami Marlins from 2017 until he announced his departure in February 2022.
When LoanDepot Park opened in 2012, it featured a colorful home run sculpture behind center field, which was removed during Jeter’s tenure with the team.
“Destroying public art was a horrible thing to do,” Loria told the Miami Herald, referring to the sculpture made by his friend and artist Red Grooms. “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.”
The $2.5 million sculpture featured fountains and aquatic figurines which came to life every time a player hit a home run. In October 2018, Miami-Dade County gave Jeter permission to move the sculpture outside the stadium.
“It’s still outside of the park. So, you can go see it. Actually, moved it because we needed the space,” Jeter told Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast in September 2022 about the controversial move. “I think you talk about sports nowadays, fans don’t want to sit in their seats and talk to the person in their left or their right. They wanna move around and have more social spaces. So, it was removed then because we needed the space in center field. We didn’t tear it down, we removed it.”
However, Loria’s qualms with Jeter went way beyond the art. He was upset with all of Jeter’s changes to the stadium, including the “the color we put into the building” among other aspects.
“They covered up all the [colorful] tiles, which we brought in from Europe. To me it reflected the culture of Miami. Now it’s all blue. It’s ridiculous,” Loria added. “The amenities, like the fish tanks behind home plate — they were there for the kids — and they got rid of them. It’s silly.”
Loria, who further criticized Jeter in his book, From the Front Row: Reflections of a Major League Baseball Owner and Modern Art Dealer, felt that Jeter was simply unprepared to run a team.
“He was a magnificent player, and he should have asked for some advice or not been so hasty,” Loria told the Miami Herald. “Playing shortstop doesn’t translate to success in a business environment. You have to learn, you have to ask questions.”
He continued, “I think Derek felt what he was doing was right. You have to admire a guy who wants to work hard at it, but you have to have experience before you make those executive decisions. Many of their [decisions] didn’t work out.”
Jeter has yet to publicly acknowledge Loria’s claims. However, he explained his departure from the Marlins organization explaining that “the vision for the future of the franchise is different than the one I signed up to lead,” in a February 2022 statement. “Now is the right time for me to step aside as a new season begins.”