Jeffrey Loria isn’t happy with what Derek Jeter did to LoanDepot Park.
The former Marlins team owner slammed Jeter in a rare interview with the Miami Herald on Monday. His issues with Jeter have nothing to do with how he ran the Marlins when he was the team’s CEO from 2017-2022, but rather what he did to the ballpark.
“Jeter came in and destroyed the ballpark,” Loria said. “Destroying public art was a horrible thing to do.”
Loria is referencing the old iconic home run sculpture that used to sit behind the centerfield wall. Loria commissioned the colorful sculpture from a friend as part of a $2.5 million deal with the county, and it used to light up, start spinning and spray water out of fountains, among other things, every time there was a home run.
Jeter removed the sculpture in 2018. It now sits outside the stadium.
“I asked the artist about getting it back, and I told him I would help him find a new home for it,” Loria said. “He didn’t want to get involved. Now it will rot outside where it is… condemned to neglect and outdoor decay.”
It’s not just the sculpture Loria is upset about.
“I was fastidious about all the color we put into the building and it was changed; it didn’t have to be changed,” Loria said. “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. 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, now 82, owned the Marlins from 2002-2017. He sold the franchise to an ownership group that Jeter was part of in 2017 for $1.2 billion. Jeter, a Hall of Fame former Yankees shortstop, sold his stake in the Marlins in 2022 and stepped down as the team’s CEO.
Loria’s team won a World Series title in 2003, but the team struggled in the back half of his time as owner. They didn’t make the postseason again with him at the helm, and had a losing record in each of their last eight seasons before he sold. The Marlins have been to the playoffs just once since winning the World Series two decades ago.
While the team’s success is obviously more important than a few cosmetic changes to the stadium, it’s clear those tweaks have stuck with Loria even after Jeter left the organization.