It is official, as members of the Marlins brass and other dignitaries have broken ground on the new Marlins stadium. Present at the groundbreaking were the Florida Marlins, representatives from Major League Baseball and southern Florida officials. (Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson)
The stadium, which is being built in Miami’s Little Havana area, is scheduled for a 2012 opening. The Marlins are hoping that the long-awaited ballpark will reinvigorate the city’s youthfulness and recapture the attention of baseball fans worldwide. “We have a special vibe,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said. “Our architecture is bold and exciting. And it was always clear to me that this ballpark must capture and mirror the special feeling of Miami. It’s the feeling of cool.”
The location of the new facility resonates with baseball boosters.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is sacred ground in athletics,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez said. “Now it’s the Miami Marlins turf.”
Dolphin Stadium, which was recently renamed Land Shark Stadium after a single-year naming rights deal, has been home to the Florida Marlins since their inaugural 1993 season and has seen monumental success in the teams short history (Word Series Championships in 1997 and 2003), but has also seen mixed results in the standings over its history. The club has found that gaining public subsidy is no easy feat, which curtailed the new stadium for more than a decade.
The new stadium is designed to keep the fans very comfortable despite the hot summers that fans and players alike are accustomed to. According to the Sun Sentinel, “The venue is designed to be breezy and comfortable, with wide concourses and plenty of concession stands for fans to get food and drinks quickly, Loria said. The concourses will overlook the field, so fans won’t miss the action when they get up for a beer or hot dog.”
The retractable roof will be a clear break from all previous ballpark designs. “The three-paneled roof closes in less than 13 minutes. When it is open, glass panels behind left field will also be open. Unless it’s closed, the roof’s panels will be parked above the giant plaza on the ballpark’s west side. The plaza, which will be the length of three football fields, will serve as gathering spot for game-day activities and other programs for the community, even when games aren’t being held.”
Clubs tout new ballparks as gaining new revenues for the organization and the surrounding businesses. According to Philip Bess, director of the graduate architecture program at Notre Dame and author of City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense About Cities and Baseball Parks, he advocates ballparks that are built in “traditional neighborhoods”.
“A neighborhood is a place where people live and a mix of uses are within pedestrian proximity and it’s fine for a ballpark to be one of those uses, he said.”It implies it is adjacent to residences and restaurants and retail and schools and churches. To the extent the new Marlins stadium does that, I think that’s good.”
Populous, formerly knows as HOK Sport has had a hand in the construction of 17 of the 21 Major League parks that have been built in the past two decades, including the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park and Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park. Earl Santee, senior principal of Populous, sees the new look of the Marlins stadium as something that the fans, even tradionionalists should be proud of. It doesn’t look like any other ballpark,” he said. Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, said that he challenged Populous to give the stadium a new look, a sleek modernistic style, “For me, Miami is a really cool place to live … it’s a cool place to visit, it’s a cool place to work in, and I wanted the stadium to have that feeling, which is why I wanted to look forward, rather than looking backward.”
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
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