Why Marlins Are Trying To Claim Citizenship In British Virgin Islands

Marlins co-owner Derek Jeter

Photo via Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports Images

If you ask Derek Jeter, the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t the only international team in Major League Baseball.

The Miami Marlins have filed a claim that the team actually is a corporate citizen of the British Virgin Islands, the Miami Herald reported Monday. According to the Herald, team lawyers argued to a federal judge that at least one corporation that owns part of the team is based in the small Caribbean island chain, technically making the Marlins a “citizen of the British Virgin Islands” under federal law.

So, uh, why are the Marlins doing this?

It’s essentially a legal maneuver related to the team’s dispute with Miami and Miami-Dade County. Those entities sued the Marlins back in February in an attempt to recover a share of the profits from former owner Jeffrey Loria’s $1.2 billion sale of the team to Marlins Teamco, the group Jeter and majority owner Bruce Sherman formed to buy the club.

A local judge currently is presiding over the case and already sided with Miami and Miami-Dade in a preliminary ruling. If the Marlins are recognized as a British Virgin Islands citizen, though, the case would get transferred to a federally-appointed judge, giving the Marlins hope of going to arbitration rather than pay up.

It’s a pretty bold tactic — and one that’s fatally flawed as long as any of the other corporations with a stake in the franchise are based in the U.S., according to lawyers representing Miami-Dade County.

“If even one of the Jeter Marlins’ members is a United States citizen, then the Jeter Marlins is a United States citizen,” the county wrote.

The lowly Marlins are 3-7 through 10 games with dreadful attendance numbers, so we can’t blame them for wanting disassociate themselves with the States.

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