PALM BEACH — There’s trouble afoot for Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush in their bid to buy the Marlins, and it’s trouble of the deep-pocketed variety.
Palm Beach billionaire Charles Dean Metropoulos, the Twinkie-tycoon with a buyout firm in control of Hostess Brands, who has a $7.5 million pad on Chilean Avenue, is looking seriously at the Marlins with an eye toward purchase, an involved source has said.
Metropoulos—with a net worth of $2.4 billion according to Forbes—certainly has sufficient wealth to be a contender in the process, and has reportedly been interested in buying a sports team for his sons Evan and Daren.
Bush—who seems to be making a habit of underestimating his competition—rebuffed Metropoulos when the billionaire approached him recently at The Breakers about making a joint offer on the team, casting his lot instead with Jeter.
Metropoulos isn’t the only problem for Bush and Jeter, though. Tagg Romney, son of yet another former presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, is also heading up a bidding group for the Marlins purchase.
Bush and Jeter are targeting an offer of just over $1 billion for the team, and would seem to have the advantage over Romney, who is still on the prowl for investors. Of the interested parties, only Metropoulos has the means to buy the team individually and outright if desired. His position of having more wealth and less debt may well make him the most attractive buyer.
Metropoulos’s interest comes with the string attached that either he or his sons would become the general partner in the event of a purchase; MLB will only recognize one general partner per team.
“I think it’s bad news for Bush and Jeter,” concluded one sports banker who weighed in on the subject.
Bush, with confidence that has proven unfounded, opined earlier in the week that his group would likely be the exclusive bidder.
According to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, “The next step for the Marlins is to decide who they want to sell to. We hope that happens in days and not months.”
As recently as a few weeks ago, none of the bidding groups had reviewed the Marlins’ financials, but it’s no secret that the Florida club is one of MLB’s worst-performing teams, with losses of greater than $50 million per year, due in no small part to a poor record on the field that contributes to low game attendance.
Metropoulos appears undeterred by the Marlins’ record, be it financially or on the scoreboards. It would not be the first time he’d invested in a then-losing brand.
Like the Marlins, though, Metropoulos doesn’t win ‘em all. He was in the running to buy the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, but was outbid by Naples, Florida auto-tycoon Shahid Khan, who ended up paying $770 million.
Whether Jeb manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again remains to be seen.