Local boy Nathan Muller said the new Marlins Park the perfect homage.
“The place is beautiful, the ballpark is what Miami needed,” he said. “It’s been a dump. I’ve been going to Sun Life forever, it was easy to get to the games. But there was no buzz, no excitment. Although I miss my beloved Orange Bowl, we had season tickets forever, it’s great that if they were going to tear it down, they built this place.”
Most importantly, according to Marlins fan Jordan Spires, the girls like it too:
“This is built for a female. It’s beautiful. The whole ballpark is beautiful. You have a sushi bar behind you!”
Speaking of sushi, the ballpark is lushly appointed with a pair of 450-gallon aquariums behind home plate, and a pastel home run feature adorned with flamingos and, yes, marlin, which jump each time the home team hits one out.
Marlins Park, still awaiting a sponsor name, seats just 37,442 fans, making it the third-smallest capacity-wise in the majors.
As the saying goes in Miami, it’s not the heat, but the humidity that used to make a summer afternoon at the ballpark a living Hades. Now that has all changed, according to Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine, a Marlins original now serving as one of the team’s broadcasters.
“This franchise and this team has always been considered a second-class citizen, even though we’ve got two World Series rings, mainly because of the venue that we played in,” Conine said. “And it was kind of a joke — the heat and the rain delays and the poor facilities. I think this puts us on the map officially.”
As for just how the ballpark will play during a game, it has spacious dimensions, going nearly 420 feet to center field, but Marlins first baseman and Miami native Gaby Sanchez said it may all depend on whether the roof and the windows are open or closed, to determine whether pitchers or hitters will like it better.
“I know that when everything’s closed off, it’s going to be a fair park,” Sanchez said. “It’s not going to be a hitters’ park, it’s not going to be a fielders’ park. If they put the roof open, and keep the windows closed then it’s definitely a hitters’ park.”
While Miami has its long-awaited new stadium, whether it’s a baseball town is still a matter for debate. Perhaps the best player ever to come from Miami is Hall of Fame slugger Andre Dawson, who played the last two seasons of his 20-year career with the Marlins. He’s now a special assistant with the team, and said it’s going to take more time for the verdict.
“I think it’s a ways down the road to say if the fan base can be comparable to a Boston, or Chicago, or St. Louis,” Dawson said, “because you’ve got to do a lot of winning over the years to create that kind of atmosphere.”