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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Catching a college baseball game is something that everyone who has loved the sport has done at some point. It is the launching pad for what many consider to be the truest American sport, showcasing the young talent of the future of MLB.
University of Miami baseball is a program steeped in history. Having won multiple national championships and having been the home of many MLB stars before they were famous, a game at “The U” is one that many would expect to be top notch. However, disappointing seasons of the past have led to decreased excitement among the fan base (as is the case with ANY Miami-area team).
Despite this, there are many things on the good side when considering a baseball game at Mark Light Field.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are the standard items on the menu, and that should not come as a surprise. After all, it is a baseball game. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, and yes....peanuts. What makes UM baseball stand apart however is their specials which change game by game. Additionally, students have from time to time free food options. During my most recent visit, there was a student association on campus that was serving free Cuban food to students and their families as it was Family Visit weekend on campus.
During those hot days, of which there are many in South Florida, there are plenty of drink options spanning from water and soda to fresh frozen lemonade.
Fans of the Hurricanes are very loyal. Most are legacy graduates who love the school and all of their teams, and thus express their love for their teams with great excitement during games.
Throughout the game, the conversation among fans is lively and enjoyable. The sound of baseball fills the air, and it is hard to not fall in love with the sport all over again.
With that said, there are some things lacking in the game experience. UM baseball doesn't have the same buzz as say a Vanderbilt game or an Arizona game. There are just some teams that scream baseball rocks here, and unfortunately Miami doesn't seem to have captured that. Perhaps the only prescription is another College World Series run...
UM's campus is situated right in the middle of the nicest part of Miami, in Coral Gables. To the south, east, and north are more great neighborhoods, with Pinecrest/Palmetto Bay, Coconut Grove, and Brickell bordering the area respectively.
The architecture of the area, all the way down to the old stone corner street markers, makes the area feel as if it is still in the older days of Miami. The trees are large, old, and majestic.
The food and shopping options are plentiful, with Sunset Place mall just a stone's throw away, and Dadeland Mall not much farther.
One of the safest feeling places in Miami, Coral Gables also has plenty of places to stay, with everything from your basic hotels to upscale resorts just a few minutes' drive away.
The fans of UM baseball are among the most loyal there are. NOBODY comes to a UM baseball game without wearing green and orange and being proud to do so (unless you're a fan of the visiting team of course).
On the same hand, they are among the nicest fans I have ever met at a college baseball game.
There aren't obscenities yelled at umpires. They also are very pleasant when asking for directions or questions regarding the current players. And when the other team makes a great play or hits a home run, they are there clapping in appreciation for good play instead of booing their opponents.
The University of Miami isn't exactly close to the highway. However, it is only a few miles down the road from an exit off one of the offshoots of the highway, and is right on US1, one of the main roads in South Florida.
For those who do not wish to drive into Coral Gables, there is a metrorail station literally across the street from the ballpark, making it perfect for a park-and-ride situation.
There are also several metro bus routes that pass by or around the UM campus. On-campus shuttles (the Hurry Cane) can take students (and anyone who happens to just blend in with students) across the campus and even to local places of interest like the Sunset Place Mall.
Additionally, there is plenty of parking on-site, so you won't have to walk far if you do decide to drive up to the school. The massive parking garage in right field is a great option for those visiting the campus for the purpose of taking in a game.
There is a great return on investment for UM baseball games, as this is easily a family friendly sporting event. In addition, there is a great tradition of success at this school when it comes to baseball that you can't help but feel you may be witnessing the beginning of a great professional career of someone on the field. While getting to UM isn't exactly the most enjoyable experience on a busy traffic day, the experience that awaits when you arrive is excellent.
When walking down the halls of Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, you will be introduced to some of the biggest names in UM baseball history on their wall of fame.
Another fun uniqueness of a game at "The U" is that the baseball team has their own mascot, separate from Sebastian the Ibis. Looking like a giant feather duster-covered creature, he makes appearances in the stands and greets kids in attendance.
To make things even better, there are always some sort of giveaways at the game. Whether it is through a contest between fans or a t-shirt toss, there is always something free being handed to UM's faithful.
UM baseball has enjoyed the peak of success in years past, and may be in a down period for the team, but the enjoyment of attending a game is just as high as before. It is America's Pastime after all, and what better way to enjoy the most American sport there is than at a college ballpark on a sunny South Florida day?
Member Review by Jackson Wolek on Feb 20, 2012
What do you get with a program that has won four national championships, has notable alumni such as Ryan Braun, Mike Piazza, and Pat Burrell, and a location right in the heart of Miami? One of the best on campus baseball stadiums in Division I baseball. Opening in 1973, the stadium was originally only called Mark Light Field, after George Light, who was a fan of the team, donated money for its construction. Instead of having it named after himself, and dedicated it to his son Mark, who passed away due to muscular dystrophy.
It wasn’t until 2007 when the stadium went through a massive renovation, thanks in part to current New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, who in 2003 donated a sum of $3.9 million. Interesting enough, Rodriguez never attended UM, but was recruited by them. He did, however, grow up and play high school baseball in Miami. The money went towards concession stands, a new press box, and four suites, as well as many other things. Now, the stadium seats 5,000 fans, and still houses one of the best college baseball teams. On top of that, they averaged 2,895 fans a game in 2011, the 23rd-best in the nation.
Although there is so much to see and do while in Miami, people still find time to enjoy the American pastime. From its wide variety of food selections, decent prices, free parking and terrific fan support, this truly is a must see.
Member Review by Scott Salomon on Jun 17, 2014
When traveling to South Beach in the spring and early summer, there are many things for the average sports fan to do. One of those things must be a visit to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field to see the Miami Hurricanes baseball team not only play baseball, but put on a terrific show for the fans.
Upon entering the stadium, fans are greeted by ticket takers that have been at Mark Light for decades. The stories that the ushers are willing to share with the fans go back to the early days of UM baseball and actually pre-date the construction of the stadium.
Stadium announcer Jay Rokeach just finished his 41st season as the stadium voice of the Hurricanes in 2014, and his booming voice and selection of walk-up music keep the fans entertained from batter to batter. The official mascot of the UM baseball team, The Miami Maniac, walks all around the stadium and visits with fans of all ages and leads the team in cheers in between innings.
Just to show how popular Rokeach is with the Miami following, one only needs to go to the concession stand and get a famous Mark Light Shake, which promotes the “JayRo.” The “JayRo” is one of the most popular shakes at the stadium, and features lots of chocolate and lots of fudge.
This entire baseball operation was all the dream of former UM legendary baseball coach Ron Fraser, who passed away before the 2014 season. He was known around the game as The Wizard of College Baseball. Without Fraser, and a generous gift from the Light family, there would be no baseball haven for the Canes. Other teams from up north come to The Light during the winter and early spring to play other teams, as their fields are covered with ice and snow. Miami has sunshine all year round, with the exception of the occasional rainout later in the season.
A $3.9 million gift from Alex Rodriguez allowed the University to make improvements to the aging ballpark, including a new concession area, press box and conference room for press conferences to take place. There is also a new state-of-the-art locker room courtesy of Rodriguez’s gift, which also entitled him to have his name on the ballpark.
When A-Rod was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs, there was a strong UM contingent that attempted to get Miami President Dr. Donna Shalala to remove his name from the building. There were also those that believed that once Fraser died, his name should have been on the stadium. That debate will continue on in perpetuity.
Sitting in different areas of the ballpark, fans in attendance have a good view of the game at all times. There is no obstructed view, and some chairs for season ticket holders come with actual chairbacks. The seats behind them are mere concrete slabs.
5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33146
1450 S Dixie Hwy
Coral Gables, FL 33146
1306 Stanford Dr
Coral Gables, FL 33146
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