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Marlins Park
"The Fish Tank"
300px
Marlins Park in April 2012
Location 501 Marlins Way
Miami, Florida 33125
Coordinates Template:Coord
Broke ground July 1, 2009 (Start of construction preparations)
July 18, 2009 (Ceremonial Groundbreaking)[1]
Opened March 5, 2012 (HS baseball game)
March 6, 2012 (exhibition game)
April 1, 2012 (spring training game)
April 4, 2012 (regular season)
Owner Miami-Dade County
Operator Miami Marlins LP
Surface Bermuda Grass (Celebration)
Construction cost $634 million[2]
Architect Populous[3]
Project Manager International Facilities Group[4]
Structural Engineer Bliss and Nyitray, Inc. (bowl and track)
Walter P Moore (roof)
Services Engineer M-E Engineers, Inc.[5]
General Contractor Hunt/Moss Joint Venture
Main Contractors MARS Contractors Inc.[6]
John J. Kirlin, LLC.[7]
Tenants
Miami Marlins (MLB) (2012–present)
Capacity
36,742
37,442 (with standing room)[8]
Dimensions
Left Field Line344 ft (105 m)
Left-Center Power Alley386 ft (118 m)
"Bermuda Triangle" In Left-Center (unmarked) – 420 ft (128 m)
Center Field418 ft (127 m)
Right-Center Power Alley392 ft (119 m)
Right Field Line335 ft (102 m)
Backstop:47 ft (14.3 m)

Marlins Park[9] is a baseball park in Miami, Florida. It is the current home of the Miami Marlins Major League Baseball team.[10] It is located on 17 acres of the former Miami Orange Bowl site in Little Havana, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Downtown.

Construction was completed in March 2012, in time for the 2012 Major League Baseball season. The stadium is the sixth MLB stadium to have a retractable roof. With a seating capacity of 37,442,[8] it is the third-smallest stadium in Major League Baseball by official capacity, and the smallest by actual capacity. The venue has been announced to host Round 2 of the 2013 World Baseball Classic Championship game and are pushing to host the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[11]

Planning and controversyEdit

Template:Morerefs-section

BackgroundEdit

From the inception of the Florida Marlins in April 1993 until October 2011, the team played its home games at the facility currently named Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. A multi-purpose stadium originally built for football, Sun Life is also the home of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins as well as the Miami Hurricanes college football team. When the stadium was built in 1987, it was designed from the ground up to accommodate baseball and soccer. Dolphins founder Joe Robbie believed it was a foregone conclusion that MLB would come to South Florida, so he wanted the stadium designed to make any necessary renovations for baseball as seamless as possible.

Even so, Sun Life Stadium was less than adequate as a baseball venue. It was not a true multipurpose stadium, but was a football stadium that could convert into a baseball stadium. The Marlins reduced capacity to 47,600 (later to 35,000) to create a more intimate atmosphere. However, it is likely they would have had to reduce capacity in any event, as many of the seats in the upper deck were too far from the field. The issues with these seats were showcased on national television during the Marlins' two World Series runs in 1997 and 2003. Many areas in left and center field were not part of the football field, and fans sitting in those areas could only see the game on the replay boards. Sight lines also left a lot to be desired. Most seats were pointed toward the 50-yard line--where center field was located in the baseball configuration.

After original owner Wayne Huizenga sold the team, the Marlins began a concerted effort to build their own park. At the end of the 1990s, then-owner John W. Henry unveiled his vision for a new baseball-only venue. The plan included a retractable roof, believed by this time to be essential due to South Florida's often oppressive heat and humidity. During that time, several plans were developed on where a new ballpark should be built. After the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, both team management and Miami-Dade County officials announced plans to fund a new ballpark. Soon after, the city decided not to help the team pay for a new stadium. However, in January 2004, the City of Miami proposed building a baseball-only stadium for the Marlins at the site of the Miami Orange Bowl that would adjoin the existing football stadium along its northern flank.

Struggles and possible relocationEdit

In May 2004, Miami-Dade County commissioners agreed to fund its portion of a new stadium. The Miami Dolphins notified the Marlins in December 2004 that they would terminate its lease at Sun Life Stadium following the 2010 season if no stadium deal appeared imminent.

One of the biggest steps in the Marlins getting a new ballpark came in February 2005 when Miami-Dade County officials unveiled a financial plan for a $420–$435 million ballpark and parking garage for the Florida Marlins east of the Miami Orange Bowl. However, in May 2005, the Marlins' struggles with the Florida House Legislation continued, as its funding requests of $45 million for a new ballpark were rejected.

In November 2005, the Marlins' negotiations with the City of Miami officially broke down. The failure to work out a stadium deal caused the Marlins to undergo their second fire sale in franchise history, or as the Marlins called it, Market Correction. They ended up trading away much of the core of the 2003 team--including Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Luis Castillo, and Juan Pierre--following the 2005 season. In the end, the Marlins remained committed to remaining in Miami, but also explored other possible options for re-location should no stadium deal be worked out.

In 2006, the Marlins turned down an offer from San Antonio, Texas officials to approve a funding vote for a new stadium to be built there. Instead, there were new signs of hope by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina. After exploring other options at the former site of the Miami Arena and in Hialeah, the Miami Hurricanes announced they were leaving the Orange Bowl, paving the way for the stadium to be built there.

Public funding and lawsuitEdit

In December 2007, the Miami-Dade County Commission voted in favor of two initial proposals that would assist in funding. But the County Commission and Miami City Commission continued to debate.

On February 21, 2008, then MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy gave the commissioners this ultimatum during a hearing on public funding:

"I just want you to know that if you decide not to make a decision tonight, that will be the death knell for baseball in Miami. We are out of time."
City and County Commissioners appeared to take the threat seriously and within hours voted to approve funding for a new ballpark for the Marlins, in the form of a Baseball Stadium Agreement. The cost of stadium construction was expected to be approximately $525 million. The initial plan called for the Marlins to contribute $155 million all through 2 separate loans ($35 million of which borrowed interest-free from the county), Miami-Dade County to contribute $347 million (about $297 million of which would come from tourist tax dollars), and the City of Miami to contribute $23 million. The city would additionally shoulder the $10 million cost to demolish the old Orange Bowl site, and another $94 million to construct the new parking facilities.[12]

The deal was put on hold because of a lawsuit filed by auto dealer Norman Braman, the former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. Braman fought to put the public-spending proposition before voters for approval. However, on November 21, 2008, Circuit Judge Jeri Beth Cohen signed an order that said that a voter referendum was not required for the 37,000-seat stadium's financing plan. That decision was the final remaining charge of Braman's original seven arguments, and Judge Cohen ruled in favor of the Marlins in all of them.

The Marlins hoped to have had final approval on the stadium on February 13, 2009, but were blindsided by a last-minute bid by Commissioner Marc Sarnoff to secure a series of financial concessions from the two-time World Series champions. The Marlins were left in a 2–2 tie in the city commission, but stadium supporter Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones was on maternity leave and was not there to vote.[13]

On March 19, 2009, Miami commissioners approved building the new stadium in a 3–2 vote. Those supporting the stadium deal were Joe Sanchez, Angel Gonzalez and Michelle Spence-Jones. Against the deal were Marc Sarnoff and Tomás Regalado. Also approved, by a 4–1 vote, was a bid waiver for a private contractor to work around the facility. A super majority was required for the bid waiver, and Sarnoff joined the majority. The final issue before the commission, dealing with an inter-local agreement, passed unanimously. With approval by the county, the team would change its name to the Miami Marlins.[14]

On March 23, 2009, after more than nine hours of debate, Miami-Dade County commissioners answered the Florida Marlins' 15-year quest for a permanent home by agreeing to bankroll a big share of construction cost. The vote was 9–4. Voting in favor of the stadium plan were Commissioners Dennis Moss, Bruno Barreiro, Audrey Edmonson, Natacha Seijas, Javier Souto, Barbara Jordan, Dorrin Rolle, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, and Rebeca Sosa. Also, by a 10–3 vote, commissioners approved a bid waiver for the stadium's construction manager. The votes drew applause in the chamber. [15][16]

On April 1, 2009, Miami's planning board voted 6–1 to approve the overall construction permit for the Marlins' new ballpark.[17]

By June 30, 2009, the sale of construction bonds to pay for the new stadium had fallen short of expectations on Wall Street, prompting a scramble at County Hall and a pledge by the Marlins to cover the funding difference. Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess asked commissioners to rush approval on increasing the interest rate on a portion of $409 million in bonds, but said he didn't know what the final costs would be to repay them. In the early hours of July 1, 2009, county commissioners cast the final vote on a set of last-minute changes that cleared the way for the sale of higher-interest bonds, granting Burgess's request.

In the now finalized deal -- supported by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, and Burgess -- the total building cost of the stadium complex rose by a few million to $634 million. More than 80 percent of that would be paid for using public money. Analysts of the bonds sale soon publicized that -- with interest compounding over 40 years -- the total cost to the county to repay them would rise to $2.4 billion. As the Miami media and bloggers circulated reports of the staggering fiscal numbers, construction began with a ground-breaking ceremony on July 18, 2009. [18][19]

Backlash and mayoral recallEdit

The 2009 election for the next mayor of Miami became a race between two candidates on opposing sides of the controversial stadium vote. As the term-limited City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz's time in office neared its end, the Marlins endorsed City Commissioner Joe Sanchez's run for the office. Executives from the Marlins and Major League Baseball held fundraisers and donated money to the campaign of Sanchez, a leading supporter of the stadium plan. The Marlins sent their mascot, Billy the Marlin, to appear at some campaign events alongside Sanchez.[20] However, on November 3, 2009, former City Commissioner Tomás Regalado, a leading opponent of the stadium plan, was elected as mayor over Sanchez with 72% of the vote. Regalado attributed his landside victory to his public opposition to the new stadium's financing, his verbal sparring with former mayor (and stadium-plan supporter) Diaz, and his populist message. [21][22]

During the 2009-10 offseason, the other MLB owners reprimanded the Marlins for purloining too much of the approximately $75 million in revenue sharing and Central Fund monies they receive annually. The news raised public suspicion that the Marlins' front office was being dishonest in their arguments to county and city commissioners that they were barely breaking even financially year after year. President David Samson, who had denied the team profited at Sun Life Stadium but would not offer any figures, said: "Very often the mistake that's made is they look at revenue sharing numbers and the team's payroll and take the difference and see profit without looking at our expenses."[23]

In August 2010, the Marlins' financial documents were leaked to Deadspin and published on the Internet which showed that the team had a healthy net operating profit of $37.8 million in 2008 alone -- an amount nearly double the league-low $21.8 million the Marlins spent on team payroll that same year.[24] The documents also showed that they were continuing to turn millions of dollars in profit in the middle of the Great Recession while receiving more revenue-sharing money than any team in baseball by 2009. Analysts extrapolated the data and some concluded that the franchise had profited by more than $91 million in the 3 years leading up to the county commissioners' passing the stadium plan in 2008. Samson immediately called the leak "a crime" while MLB scrambled to find the source of the leak. But many fans and taxpayers in the Miami area were angrier at the revelation contained within the documents. Still, Samson insisted that the Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, "didn't put a dime in his pocket," and claimed that the team was in "debt" despite evidence to the contrary. Samson later said the team showed a hefty profit in certain years when it was conserving money for its ballpark project.[25][26]

Meanwhile, word spread about expensive commissions for works by some of Loria's favorite artists inside the new stadium, including $2.5 million taken from the county’s Art in Public Places department for a Red Grooms sculpture behind center field. Taxpayers directed their outrage at the government officials who supported the public financing of the stadium during a time of high unemployment, and without a referendum. Opponents of the stadium deal charged that officials had sold out generations of South Floridians to an owner who could have contributed much more to cover the cost for his own building. [23]

On March 15, 2011, Miami-Dade County voters ousted Mayor Carlos Alvarez in a recall election, for his backing the ballpark and pushing for a higher property-tax rate. His manager, George Burgess, who helped engineer the deal, left soon thereafter. County Commissioner Natacha Seijas was recalled alongside Alvarez for largely the same reasons. The recall effort was led by the same billionaire who lost his legal challenge to the park's financing plan back in 2008, Norman Braman. A vocal opponent of the stadium deal, former commissioner Carlos A. Giménez, succeeded Alvarez as county mayor after a special election was held on June 28, 2011. [27][2]

Taxpayer furor continued in November 2011, as Miami Mayor Regalado publicized details of contract clauses in which the city will incur heavy annual charges. The charges include as much as $2 million per year in taxes to the county for the parking facilities leased to the Marlins, and the city must also pay the Marlins stadium maintenance fee of $250,000 annually. "That [parking-facilities] tax will seriously hurt the City of Miami and the taxpayer will have to foot the bill," said Regalado. "I am also concerned because in that same contract the city has to remit a quarter of a million dollars every year for the maintenance of the stadium we do not own or operate. This is a bad contract that has become a nightmare." Regalado indicated that city would legally challenge terms of the contract agreed to by the previous administration, but he would not attempt to derail the stadium project.[28][29]

Hours before the opening game at Marlins Park on April 4, 2012, team executives held a ceremonial ribbon-cutting with Miami-Dade County and city of Miami officials. Neither Miami-Dade County Mayor Giménez nor City of Miami Mayor Regalado accepted invitations to attend the photo-op in a show of solidarity with public opposers of the finance plan. "It would have been hypocrisy on my part to celebrate," Regalado said. "I wish them the best, and I hope this will bring a championship to Miami, but I still believe it was a bad deal for the city."[27]

Loria dismissed the public backlash as "naysayers... and people who just can't stop shooting their mouths off". [30] He said:

"There'll always be activists in a community who don't know what they're talking about it, who have their own agendas. There are people who do not understand that we didn't take one dime away from anybody's public services in this city. These dollars that were put into this building from the city were tourist dollars -- generated by tourists to increase tourism. And it had to be put back -- into what is called the "public-private partnership" -- into something like a ballpark or an arena. But a major-league city like Miami needed this kind of facility and they have it now." [31]

FinancingEdit

Breakdown:[2]

Miami-Dade County $376.3 million
City of Miami $132.5 million [a]
Miami Marlins $125.2 million
Cost $634 million

Template:Note label Includes $10 million towards demolition of the old Orange Bowl stadium, and $94 million to build the parking facilities.

The total cost is: $2.4 billion, spread over 40 years, to repay $409 million in bonds that will primarily, though not exclusively, cover stadium construction. Roughly $100 million will refinance existing bond debt and another $9 million goes into a debt service reserve fund. The result is $300 million for stadium construction, financed in two ways.

One portion, underwritten by Merrill Lynch totaling $220 million, has an interest rate of 6.4 percent and requires immediate repayment. In October 2010 the county must pay $9.6 million, though there are questions over whether tourist taxes will meet that. Annual payments run through 2049 and climb as high as $71 million per year.

The second portion, underwritten by JP Morgan, is for $91 million, $80 million of that for construction. That carries an 8.17 rate, but repayment doesn't begin until 2025. Yet that grace period comes with a big price: $83 million a year for three years starting in 2038. Then, starting in 2041, six years of payments totaling $118 million annually. Total cost to retire the debt: $2.1 billion.[32]

Not listed in the breakdown are the annual charges that the city is required to pay for the lifetime of the contract, which are as much as $2.25 million per year for the parking-facilities taxes and maintenance fees of the stadium.

The Marlins received an interest free, $35 million loan from the county that it will pay back through yearly rent beginning at about $2.3 million and increasing 2 percent each year.

SEC investigationEdit

The Miami Herald reported on December 2, 2011 that the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) had issued subpoenas to the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County, requesting financial records, meeting minutes and communications with executives from the Marlins and Major League Baseball dating back to 2007. The executives named in the subpoena include baseball commissioner Bud Selig, ex-MLB president Robert DuPuy, Loria and Samson. The investigation may revolve around the Marlins' claims that the team needed public help because it could not afford to pay for a new ballpark.[33]

Under examination are the nearly $500 million in bonds and the circumstances surrounding their sale. Another issue specifically mentioned by the SEC is the $2 million in property taxes that the city is required to pay the county for parking garages operated by the Marlins. Also under investigation are any campaign contributions from the Marlins organization and MLB to local and state elected officials. (Jeffrey Loria, Loria's wife, Robert DuPuy, and DuPuy's spouse are known to have donated to the failed mayoral campaign of city commissioner Joe Sanchez, among others.)[34][20]

A former lawyer for the SEC said the watchdog agency likely wants to know whether the purchasers of stadium bonds were given full disclosure of the financial status of the borrowers involved, and also whether there may have been any "pay for play" involved on behalf of the parties. If the SEC finds wrongdoing in the investigation, it can choose to bring a civil suit against parties involved, issue fines or refer the case to the United States Department of Justice for possible criminal charges.[35]

DesignEdit

Contemporary architectureEdit

Marlins Park has the distinction of being the first MLB park designed in what stadium planners are calling the "contemporary" architectural style. The architecture is intended to shout a statement about the present-day culture of the city in which the stadium stands: Miami. It rejects the nostalgic idiom of the 20 consecutive new (plus 3 renovated) retro ballparks that opened in the 2 decades after Camden Yards was built. Owner Jeffrey Loria, who spearheaded the design, wanted his building to be "different and experimental". Loria said, "I thought it was time for baseball to be innovative."[36]

File:Marlins Park north side.jpg

In early 2008, Loria happened to be in London at the same time as some architects from Populous who were there on another project. The group met in a hotel lobby to begin discussing design ideas. Loria described the meeting:

"When it all started, the architects came to me and asked what I had envisioned. Was I looking to have a retro stadium? Did we have that in mind? I said, 'No retro, no art-deco, no looking back. Miami is a spectacular city, looking ahead. We need to be looking forward. I'd like to see us build a great, contemporary building...' [37]

"We had to think about some kind of design for it and what it might look like... I really did not want it to be just another ballpark. I wasn't interested in a 1970s or '80s doughnut ... I wanted it to be a statement of what Miami is all about -- a contemporary city. Miami is an important American city and architecture makes your city great. The idea was to create something very contemporary." [38]

Loria then sketched his idea of a round building on a napkin and told the architects to bring him back some real drawings. Exec architect Earl Santee, who was present at the meeting, said, "Mr. Loria told us to make a piece of art." [39]

The architects returned to their Kansas City offices and began brainstorming in April 2008. "We were waiting for a client willing to break the [retro] mold," said Greg Sherlock, the project's lead designer at Populous. [40] Loria "sort of let us do our thing and explore something unique. We knew from the beginning that this was going to be something new and different." [41] As a result, classic elements such as redbrick, limestone, and muted forest-green seats or fences, would not be found anywhere in Marlins Park. Any visible steel trusses would be functionally required to be that way, unlike retro-style trusses which tend to be exposed and bare for aesthetics. According to Sherlock, the structure would convey "that a ballpark doesn't necessarily have to be bricks and steel to translate a message about its location. It can be interpreted in a fresh way."[40]

The stadium would also not be symmetrical like the "cookie-cutter" stadiums of the pre-Camden, modern era. But eccentricities to the seating bowl and fences need not appear as contrived as those meticulously added in to some of the retro parks (such as "Tal's Hill" in Minute Maid Park, or the "Mo's Zone" in Citi Field).

Populous began conducting feasibility studies for their "primary design objectives". The top objective was creating "a ballpark that is quintessentially Miami", which meant, according to a list of adjectives that the architects drew up: "palms, destination, diverse, recreation, and beach". A similar list was drawn up for the Little Havana neighborhood around the future park: "Cuba, pastels, canopies, organic, and everything is unique." They created a presentation for the Marlins tailored to Loria's background in the art business with concepts such as "the site is a gallery space with the ballpark representing gallery walls", and "pure art... pure color... pure baseball". Four different initial designs were presented, all of which were stark departures from previous ballpark architecture. Both the Marlins' and Populous' favorite choice was a design of an angular white-curves-and-glass facade -- a metaphor for the "water merging with land" landscape of the Miami area -- which was close to what eventually became the final design.[39]

"For the first time, you can embrace art and architecture and baseball in one building form," Santee said. "It's not just the art in the building, but the building itself is a piece of art."[42]

"If you're looking for a label, I'd say contemporary," Sherlock said. "In this particular case, we didn't adopt anything stylistically. It's sculpture quality, and with sculpture, there are no rules. We wanted an experience that connects the fan experience to the city of Miami and its people and its climate and culture."[40]

"All about Miami"Edit

The ballpark is intended to embody Miami so much that its emblematic features would look out-of-place if they were put in other cities.

"We used Miami as an excuse to do things that other cities couldn't get away with," team President David Samson said. "Everywhere you look, it's things that if they were anywhere else, people would say, 'You can't do that.' In Miami, people say, 'Oh, that's Miami.' You have to take advantage where you are."[42]

File:Marlins Park parking garage wall tiles.jpg

"Marlins Park is all about Miami," said Sherlock. The exterior is a sculptural monument consisting of gleaming white stucco, steel, aluminum, and glass. The inclining elliptical form avoids creating many rigid, right angles. Angled, cantilevered pedestrian ramps also form interesting geometric shapes. "It’s consistent with the essence of the buildings that are down here -- white plaster and graceful forms, which are somewhat of an abstraction of the look and feel of Miami Deco," Sherlock continued.[41] Even the parking-garage walls are tiled in Miami-Deco pastels that connect with Little Havana.

As visitors walk from the outside in, they step right on metaphors for Miami's topography, including concrete pavers that in general are either green or blue ("grass" or "sea"). They walk past landscaping that evokes the "beach" -- there's even sand -- in places. There's cobalt-blue glass at eye level ("ocean"), the stucco and concrete ("land" or "buildings"), and the paler blue-gray glass at the upper levels ("sky"). The seats are also cobalt-blue, facing the naturally green, Bermuda grass field.[36]

When Marlins fans first realized that the original colors of the team would not appear on the seats in the new stadium -- and ultimately not on the new uniforms either -- some angrily started a petition known as "Project Teal". But Samson said it was necessary to ignore fans' complaints: "I think any time you do something new and different, the knee-jerk reaction from bloggers or people who post comments is negative. But we have blinders on. This ballpark would have never been built if we had listened to the negativity."[37]

File:Marlins Park mosaic walkways.jpg

Loria, a notable art dealer, took the four bright primary colors off the palette of the late Catalan surrealist, Joan Miró, to conveniently label different zones around the park -- green (outfield), red (third-base line), yellow (first-base line) and blue (behind home plate). "If you look carefully, in those sections, they dissolve into the next color, and the colors mix," Loria said.[37] Wide open plazas at the east and colorful west ends of the building, as well as a 360-degree concourse inside called the Promenade encourages fans to walk around -- and to intermingle at stops such as the bars or the bobblehead museum. Dazzling colors are found throughout the interior, including florescent lime-green fences, and in modernist & contemporary works of art -- including the much-debated animatronic home-run sculpture -- that relate to baseball and Miami.

"My idea was to have people use their eyes and encourage them to use their eyes," said Loria. "We wanted a ballpark filled with great baseball, great entertainment, and occasionally, some images to be seen and enjoyed. It's not about an art gallery. But it's about images relating to the game. There are a few of them in the park."[37]

A nightclub featuring loud music and a swimming pool just beyond the left field fence brings a touch of South Beach into the park. Taste of Miami food court includes such local cuisine as Cuban sandwiches, pork sandwiches, and stone crabs. There's even an aquarium inside the walls of home plate backstop containing live, tropical fish.[40]

Marlins Park transfers over "The Bermuda Triangle" quirk of Sun Life Stadium's outfield fence as a nod to their team's early years. However, instead of straight lines, the new "triangle" is a wave-like shape that smoothly curves upwardly around the base of the large home-run sculpture, making the nook appear necessary to the design of the asymmetrical fence. The height of the tall wall varies from {{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} feet ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|(Expression error: Unexpected < operator.)|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} m)Template:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ to {{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} feet ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|(Expression error: Unexpected < operator.)|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} m)Template:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/.

A critical design point addresses the subtropical climate of South Florida summers. Fans are provided with the comfort they longed for at Sun Life Stadium with the daunting 5.27-acre retractable roof, retractable-glass wall panels that offer a panoramic view of Downtown Miami, and a huge air-conditioning system. The stadium is also said to be designed to withstand strong hurricanes.

Technology and going greenEdit

Instead of framing new technology with nostalgic elements as in retro parks, Marlins Park emphasizes the future. Besides electronic mixed-media artwork, technology is also unmistakably used for commercial purposes. As a way to market to Latino fans, many digital menu boards on the concession stands continuously switch from English to Spanish and back. Also, there are no hand-operated advertisement signs; ads are all computerized.

File:Marlins Stadium near completion 3.jpg

Santee explains: "It's really just how technology is everywhere. You don't see any static ad panels in this building. It's all video-based, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)-based. It's all connected. The technology is the blood of the building. It flows through every vein, every piece of building.

"What it means is that [stadium operators] could run a third-inning (concession) special and it would pop up... You could have the whole building with one sponsor for one moment, if you wanted to. Or you could do zones. It gives them maximum flexibility for however they want to present their partners as well as themselves."[42]

As part of its forward-thinking design, the venue is an efficient, environmentally-friendly green building in its use of materials, waste, and operation. The selection of building materials included sealants, paint, and adhesives with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) to maximize good indoor-air quality. A white rubber membrane lining the roof reflects rays to reduce "heat-island effect". The extensive glass facade allows in natural light during the day and reduces reliance on artificial light. The suites are built with replenishable bamboo paneling instead of hardwood. Most construction waste was hauled away to recycling centers during the building phase.[43]

Palm trees and other native plant species around the building encourage biodiversity. Levy Restaurants, which runs some of the kitchens, gets most of its fresh-food supply directly from local farms that are within a 100-mile radius of the stadium. Approximately 6 million gallons of water a year are saved with the use of 249 waterless urinals.[44]

An early aim of the new ballpark was to become the first retractable-roof ballpark to be Silver Certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).[45] On May 25, 2012, Marlins Park surpassed that goal by officially becoming the first MLB stadium -- and the first retractable-roof stadium in any sport -- to achieve LEED Gold Certification, anointing the facility as the most sustainable ballpark in MLB.[46] The LEED-NC (New Construction) rating system credited the stadium with 40 points toward certification, the highest total of any LEED-certified park in the majors -- the retro-contemporary ballparks of Target Field (36 points) and Nationals Park (34 points) are the only others to achieve LEED certification.[47]

Although they were publicly seeking silver, Loria had privately challenged engineers to shoot for the higher gold certification. The most difficult aspect of achieving gold, though -- and one the design team had doubt it would be able to accomplish -- was concerning the energy required to operate the retractable roof. Populous thought renewable energy would be a part of the sustainability equation but the park opened without solar panels. However, engineers optimized lighting, mechanical controls, and electrical aspects enough to achieve a 22.4-percent reduction in energy usage, which exceeded the 14 percent required for certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council noted an innovation which earned the facility three credits: Throughout areas of the stadium, including the clubhouses, the floor is made of a synthetic pouring made from recycled Nike shoes. The Council presented Loria with a plaque to signify the entire gold-certification achievement.

"A lot of people have often thought this [LEED Gold Certification] is an award. I'd like to think about this as 'the organization has earned its Ph. D,' because earning one of these is not an easy task. The team that's up here did some amazing things to bring this plaque to the building." -- Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of U.S. Green Building Council[46]

"It was our desire from the onset to not only build America's greatest new ballpark, but also its most environmentally friendly," said Loria.

Problems with grass and retractable roofEdit

File:MarlinPark.jpg

Since first laying down sod in early February 2012, the grass has had difficulty growing under the frequently-closed roof. Planners had selected a strain of Bermuda grass -- named Celebration -- for its reputation of doing well in the shade. [48] Even so, with the grass receiving only about 4 hours per day of sunlight, some of the sod keeps turning brown. The worst-affected area is in deep right field where patches of dead sod have been replaced multiple times. Groundskeepers are attempting to point grow lights on the area to nurse it to health on non-game days. [49]

During the first months of games played at the new park, at least 4 or 5 leaks showed themselves in the retractable roof. Fans sitting in at least 4 seating sections still got wet under the drippy roof on rainy days. Leaks have progressively appeared under different spots as stadium workers kept plugging them by opening up the roof panels and patching the joints.

Samson said it will take time to work out the kinks: "We knew going in that other retractable-roof ballparks had to make adjustments for one or two years to get their field right. We hoped that we'd get it right the first time. So far it’s not right. We're going to keep working and find a way to make it better." [50]

FeaturesEdit

File:Marlins Park windows open.jpg
File:Marlins Park home run feature.jpg
File:BudClevelander.jpg

The Marlins' front office commissioned several works of art and other notable features around the stadium.

  • Retractable Roof and Outfield Glass Panels: The retractable roof consists of 8,300 tons of steel. The Marlins covered it with a white membrane because “we want to make sure we’re not absorbing heat in the roof,” said Claude Delorme, the Marlins’ executive vice president/ballpark development. Separate retractable glass panels offer uninterrupted views of the downtown Miami skyline, and also allow in a natural breeze when they are open. The six panels are a combined 240 feet long and 60 feet high. A mammoth air-conditioning system will cool the average temperature to a comfortable Template:Convert/°FTemplate:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ with the roof and glass panels closed. The Marlins expect for the roof to be closed for about 70 of the 81 home games and likely to remain open on some dry nights in April, when the weather isn’t too hot. It takes approximately 14 and a half minutes to open the roof, and seven to eight minutes to open the transparent outfield panels.[51]
  • Home Run Feature: Center field has a home run feature akin to Citi Field's Home Run Apple but different in design and feel. The piece, designed by Red Grooms, is located behind the left center field wall, and visible during a game. It is between {{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} feet ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|(Expression error: Unexpected < operator.)|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} m)Template:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ to {{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} feet ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|(Expression error: Unexpected < operator.)|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.}} m)Template:Convert/track/abbr/Template:Convert/track/disp/Template:Convert/track/adj/ tall, with bright pink, blue, aqua, and orange colors along with many moving parts. The art feature rises from a pool of Grooms-designed water and is dotted with clouds, flamingos, seagulls and palm trees. Marlins jump and laser lights shine for roughly 30 seconds. The home run feature was budgeted at $2.5 million with funding provided by the county's Art in Public Places department.[23][52] The pricey sculpture sparked heated conversation among Miami-Dade taxpayers well before the park opened and has since continued. The Miami Herald reported that many fans thought it was "tacky" or "ugly," while others felt it captured the "essence of Miami."[53][54] Marlins players wondered if the upcoming sculpture could cause a distraction to left handed batters.[55] However, MLB officials have approved the batter's eye (after a separate area in dead center was repainted from fluorescent green to black) and, so far, the sculpture has not been an issue for hitters.[56] The Herald held an unofficial contest to name the sculpture and selected the "Marlinator" as the winning submission from their readers.[53]
  • Clevelander Bar and Swimming Pool: The Clevelander is a South Beach-themed nightclub that takes its name from a 100-year old Miami institution. It holds approximately 240 guests, offers a variety of food selections, entertainment (dancers, DJs and body painting), field-level seating, and a swimming pool. The new poolside bar and grill is available on gamedays for private events for by groups, on a per-game basis.[58]
  • Bobblehead Museum: A display showcases hundreds of bobblehead dolls from all over baseball, jiggling in unison.
  • Parking Complex and Trolley Service: The stadium is surrounded by 4 main parking garages along with 6 other lots, with a combined capacity of about 5,600 vehicles. The garages extend the contemporary design of the park with walls of pastel, Miami-Deco tiles. Garages are conveniently color coded with pennant banners to match its corresponding color quadrant of the stadium: blue for home plate, yellow for first base, red for third base, and green for center field. In addition to the main commemorative marker, three mosaic panels from the old Orange Bowl hang on the facade of the southwestern garage, and a few of the old bowl’s plastic seats punctuate a small plaza in front of the parking structure, as a nod to the past. As final public art project, large scale bit-map paintings of children peering through a ballpark chainlink fence are being installed on the garages. Parking tickets are pre-purchased like seating tickets, raising the probability that parking spaces could be sold out even before game day. Due to the limited public transportion at Marlins Park, free trolleys shuttle fans to and from the downtown Miami civic center or a nearby train station on game days only. [60][36]
  • Entrance/West Plaza Paving: Pathways are paved on the west entrance plaza of the stadium are created by Venezuelan-born and Parisian-based, kinetic-op artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. It's entitled Chromatic Induction in a Double Frequency and uses tiny one-inch tiles to form a rhythmic pattern that perceptibly changes for visitors as they walk on it and at times almost seems to vibrate. [36]
  • Column Illumination: Daniel Arsham/Snarkitecture were also selected for the lighting of the four super columns which support the retractable roof. The lighting is designed to give the illusion of the columns being concealed and revealed through programmable LED lights that fade up and down the columns in subtly shifting patterns, evoking the rhythm of a human breath.[61]
  • Modern/Contemporary Artist Replicas: A large, ceramic-tile reproduction of a Joan Miró mural (1930's) is on a promenade wall behind home plate. A reprint of renowned pop culture artist Roy Lichtenstein's painting of "The Manager" (1962) is displayed near the main concourse. A nearly 40-foot reprint of Kenny Scharf's mixed media work “Play Ball!” (2011) is in a corner behind the team store. [37]
  • Sports & The Arts Graphics: In addition to other artwork, California-based consultant "Sports & The Arts" was retained to curate the photography and wall/column graphics components. Nearly 500 pieces of photography and over 15,000 square feet of wall/column treatments were planned.


HistoryEdit

2012-presentEdit

Marlin Park hosted a trio of soft openings prior to Spring training. The first baseball game took place on March 5, 2012 with a high school baseball game between Christopher Columbus High School and Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. The Marlins played an exhibition game on March 6 against the Miami Hurricanes (defeating the Canes 7-6) and on March 7 against the FIU Golden Panthers (defeating the Panthers 5-1).[62] The Marlins then hosted two spring training exhibition games at the new ballpark against the New York Yankees on April 1 and 2, 2012.[63]

Before a sellout crowd, the Marlins played their first regular season game on April 4, 2012, against the St. Louis Cardinals (losing to the Cards, 4-1). The inaugural game was nationally televised on ESPN. As part of the Opening Night fanfare, players were announced onto the field while escorted by scantily-clad Brazilian dancers in full headdress. Muhammad Ali threw out the ceremonial first pitch after he was carted out to the field alongside Jeffrey Loria. [64]

In the previous season, the Marlins ranked just 28th in the Majors during their final year at Sun Life Stadium. With a brand new ballpark and their dramatic payroll expansion (resulting from the signings of free agents José Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell, and trade acquisitions of Carlos Zambrano and later Carlos Lee), team officials expected their attendance to skyrocket.

 

"With the team we are putting together, we expect there to be very few empty seats at this ballpark ever," David Samson told reporters. "We have always told ourselves build it small and sell it out, and that’s what we’re going to do."

The Marlins went on to finish the ballpark's inaugural season 18th in MLB attendance, averaging 27,400 per home game. The increase was a significant improvement, but far short of expectations. In fact, Marlins Park had the smallest first-year attendance of the 11 ballparks that had opened between 2001 and 2012. [65] The disappointing figures are largely attributed to the team's poor play on the field, as they finished in last place (69-93) in the NL East Division. Other cited explanations as to why some fans stayed away include opposition to the stadium’s Little Havana location, and resentment over the use of public money to build it. [66]

As the team underperformed both on the scoreboard and at the box office in their new ballpark, the Marlins traded away the face of the franchise, Hanley Ramirez, and 3 other veterans with contracts (Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, and Randy Choate) in exchange for lower-salaried prospects in midseason 2012. The moves caused more tension with fans and made headlines around baseball that the Marlins had begun the third fire sale in team history -- except this time it followed the opening of a new stadium instead of a World Series championship. [67][68] But General Manager Larry Beinfest insisted that trades were not signaling a "fire sale" or a "white flag," despite the sudden drop in payroll. "We understand there's skepticism here," he said. "Yes, we have our history [of fire sales], but that's not what's going on here. This was about the current mix wasn't winning, so let's try something else." [69][70]

In retrospect, the team's brief honeymoon in their new home made this preseason quip from Manager Ozzie Guillen sound foreboding: "It's like having a beautiful house and your marriage stinks. We have a beautiful house here, but if the people who live in it are not good, you're not going to have fun." [71]

Marlins Park is scheduled to host Pool 2 during the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic on March 12-16, 2013. [72]

Ballpark firstsEdit

Statistic Spring Training Exhibition
April 1, 2012
Opening Night
April 4, 2012
Attendance 27,152 (limited) 36,601 (sellout)
Ceremonial first pitch   Muhammad Ali
First pitch Ricky Nolasco (hit) Josh Johnson (strike)
First batter Derek Jeter Rafael Furcal
First hit Derek Jeter (double; 1st inning) Carlos Beltran (single; 1st inning)
First out Curtis Granderson (groundout to 1B) Rafael Furcal (groundout to SS)
First home run Gaby Sanchez (solo) off C. C. Sabathia N/A
First strikeout Mark Teixeira (swinging) by Ricky Nolasco Josh Johnson (swinging) by Kyle Lohse
First win George Kontos Kyle Lohse
First loss Chad Gaudin Josh Johnson

Notable and technical firstsEdit

Statistic Date Player(s)/Team(s)
First game March 5, 2012 Christopher Columbus High School 6, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School 4
Ceremonial first pitch March 5, 2012 Ex Mayor Manny Diaz and Archbishop Thomas Wenski
First home run (regular season) April 13, 2012 J. D. Martinez (Houston Astros) off Edward Mujica
First Marlins home run (regular season) April 15, 2012 Omar Infante off J. A. Happ (Houston Astros)


Construction galleryEdit

Comparison to Sun Life StadiumEdit

File:Marlins 2008 001.jpg
File:Inside Marlins Park.jpg
Characteristic Sun Life Stadium* Marlins Park
Opening Day April 5, 1993 April 4, 2012
Baseball capacity 38,560** (67,000 approx. total) 36,742[8]
Lower Bowl Seats 21,000 22,000 (approximate)
Legends Level Seats 10,000 5,000 (approximate)
Vista Level Seats 37,500 10,000 (approximate)
Outfield Seats 22,000 4,700 (approximate)
Standing Room 0 1,000 (approximate)
Luxury Suites 240 suites (88 during MLB configuration); 1 mega-suite 50 suites (including 2 mega-suites)
Project site area 160 acres (65 ha) (stadium); 280 acres (110 ha) total area*** 21 acres 8.5 ha)
Retractable roof No (open air) Yes
Climate controlled No (outdoors) Yes
Average game time temperature 85°F (29°C) 75°F (24°C)
Surface Grass Grass
Marlins dugout First Base Side Third Base Side
Backstop 58 feet (17.68 m) 47 feet (14.33 m)
Left Field 330 feet (100.6 m) 344 feet (104.9 m)
Left Center 361 feet (110.0 m) 386 feet (117.7 m)
Center Field 404 feet (123.1 m) 418 feet (127.4 m)
Right Center 375 feet (114.3 m) 392 feet (119.5 m)
Right Field 345 feet (105.2 m) 335 feet (102.1 m)
Source: Miami Marlins

*Controlled by Miami Dolphins
**As of 2008; Expandable to more than 67,000 during MLB playoffs.
***Includes parking lot and surrounding

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Sun Life Stadium
Home of the
Miami Marlins

2012 – Present
Succeeded by:
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