MIAMI -- When Caroline O'Connor joined the Marlins in October 2017, she quickly discovered how passionate the fanbase can get in the tight-knit South Florida community.
O'Connor, who is entering her sixth year with the organization, will try to drive that forward in her new role as president of business operations. She will oversee all of the club’s business operations, including sales, partnerships, marketing, human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion, finance, legal, communications, community outreach, technology, security, ballpark facilities and special projects.
"I've always worked for first-class organizations, and that's certainly what [chairman and principal owner] Bruce [Sherman] wants to see here and really what the mandate is," O'Connor said. "I think using best practices and being the kind of organization that people want to work for and want to support the community, that's exactly what we want here, and a lot of where I came from."
With O'Connor and general manager Kim Ng at the helm, the Marlins are led by two of the highest-ranking women in professional sports -- becoming what the organization believes to be the first team to have women operating the entirety of the team day-to-day business.
Unlike Ng, O'Connor didn't begin her professional career in the sports realm. She spent five years as managing director at Morgan Stanley and six years as director at UBS Investment Bank before being named Miami's senior vice president and chief of staff in 2017. She later climbed to chief operating officer in '19.
"I think it's huge," O'Connor said. "I think we're a really special organization. Bruce's put a lot of trust in us, and he really looked at merit and who can do the job. I'm really excited about it. I think it makes our organization unique and stand out, and shows what women can do and the roles that they can hold."
Under O’Connor’s leadership, the Marlins have found ways to increase revenue streams and exposure to Marlins baseball and the loanDepot park experience.
Attendance increased 12 percent during the 2022 season compared to '19 -- the last time there was year-round open seating -- to signify one of the largest jumps in Major League Baseball. Initiatives consisted of member base growth (season-ticket holders) and single-game ticket offers like $1 kids nights on Mondays and the return of 4 for $44. loanDepot park, meanwhile, will become the first venue to host every round of the World Baseball Classic in March and will hold the Caribbean Series in February 2024 -- the first time the event will take place at a MLB facility.
O'Connor helped spearhead the Marlins' investment in improving baseball facilities in South Florida and the Dominican Republic. A member of the Florida Council of 100 and the Board of Directors of the Florida Sports Foundation, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade County, O'Connor was recognized in 2021 as an Influential Businesswoman by the South Florida Business Journal.
"We are fortunate to have someone with Caroline’s business acumen and vision leading our day-to-day business operations," Sherman said in a release. "Her passion and drive for success is unmatched in our game and the South Florida market. Her leadership will continue to guide the Marlins organization toward our goal of sustained success while strategizing additional new ventures to grow our business and enhance our brand recognition."
Arguably O’Connor's greatest impact has come via the Marlins' focus on community outreach, including the tee-ball initiative that has nearly doubled in size since its establishment in 2019. Count O'Connor's youngest child among its participants. In order to grow the game and interest in the hometown team, the Marlins are reaching out to the younger generations.
"I think what I'm most proud of is just the connection we've made with the community, and the way that is starting to play out in our attendance," O'Connor said. "We're pretty deep with the tee-ball and the Youth Baseball League, the activities that we do with the schools around the community. We were seeing a lot of young Marlins fans out in the community and at our games, and that's really exciting for us. We need to keep pushing on that and keep getting the larger community coming to our games as a regular event when they're thinking of what to do on their nights and weekend."