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There are few Major League Baseball clubs that have quite the tumultuous history that the Miami Marlins do. Founded in 1993 as the Florida Marlins, the team came into existence and shared ownership and a stadium with the NFL's Miami Dolphins. It became clear quickly that the Florida Marlins would not have a smooth ride. Shocking everyone by winning the 1997 World Series with a large compliment of expensive free agents. Possibly a greater shock to the baseball world was how most of those players were sold or traded off the following year.
Ownership would also change and the NFL stadium that the Marlins called home, did not seem quite that homey any more. The Marlins would again shock the world and win the 2003 World Series, but long-term financial success was again not present for the Marlins. Marlins ownership and Major League Baseball cried for a new stadium for the Marlins, and even the Dolphins got involved giving the Marlins notice that their occupancy of Sun Life Stadium would be temporary. In one of the most controversial public funding debacles for a stadium ever, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County stepped up and funded Marlins Park, which would be built on the site of the Miami Orange Bowl.
Current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria again found himself in a bit of public hot water as one year after the opening of the Miami-Dade County owned Marlins Park, the renamed Miami Marlins made a huge trade with the Toronto Blue Jays essentially moving almost all of their high-priced, high-profile talent. The Marlins organization have found themselves in a position where they have to win back the public trust and create more incentives for patrons to come out to the ballpark. In their corner, is one of the most unique and wonderful parks in all of Major League Baseball. However, to win back this jaded fan base, the Marlins will have to do more than just periodic deep sea fishing.
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".
Modern MLB ballparks require the culinary experience to be as good, if not better, than the product on the field. Marlins Park features one of the best culinary experiences in baseball. There is a wide variety of foods available and patrons will actually have a difficult time deciding. The prices are more on the expensive side (popcorn $6.50; hot dog $6; pizza $11; soda $4.50; beer $8). Your regular ballpark fare will be found at the Fan Feast concession stands. Sir Pizza will provide exactly what you would expect it to.
Miami Mex has tacos, churros and nachos available. The Kosher Korner has a variety of kosher options. Yoblendz is a self serve frozen yogurt bar. If you are looking for something that is more Miami authentic then you would want to try the Goya Latin Cafe. The Cuban nachos on plantain chips are really good.
The soda options at Marlins Park are Pepsi products. There are many beer options from the regular beer on tap including Heineken, Corona and Bud Light, to the various craft beer available including Wild Blue, Shock Top, and Goose Island. Overall, patrons will have a hard time deciding what to have as opposed to struggling to find something worthwhile.
At one time the idea of the "cookie cutter" stadium was prevalent throughout Major League Baseball. At some point the cookie cutter just changed and there are numerous stadiums that are newer, but really similar to each other. With Marlins Park being among the newest stadiums in 2014, recognition must be given to the designers for making a very unique ballpark.
Marlins Park has a kind of spaceship exterior to it. It is large and imposing, and stands out among the mainly residential neighborhood. To protect fans from extreme heat in the summer and numerous showers, a retractable roof was part of the design with panels sliding off of the ballpark, to the west, and supported by huge pillars outside the stadium. Marlins Park is built on the former site of the Miami Orange Bowl. As part of the legacy of the Orange Bowl, home of the perfect 1972 Miami Dolphins, the large orange letters of the Miami Orange Bowl can be found protruding from the sidewalk. Also, you will find large banners depicting great moments in Marlins history on the outside of the parking structure.
Inside Marlins Park, you will see a truly unique ballpark experience. The first thing to jump out at you are the colors. Bright greens for the outfield walls and navy blue for the seats is not the norm and it is a refreshing change. Just past the left field wall are huge glass panels, which open when needed and allow lots of natural light into the park, even when the roof is closed. Through the glass panels, you can see a beautiful view of the Miami cityscape.
The most controversial aspect of the park's decor has to be the home run sculpture. The large moving structure past left center field actually defies description. Many find it tacky, however nothing like it can be found in any other ballpark anywhere.
Another extremely unique idea sits in the concourse behind home plate. There you will find the Bobblehead Museum. This giant, constantly moving glass case features bobbleheads from all across the Majors and even some really unique ones. My favorite is the "Wild Thing" Ricky Vaughn bobblehead from the movie Major League. Finally, behind the plate you will find two aquariums that are encased in bulletproof glass to protect them from foul balls.
If you are not interested in the normal ballpark seats, then you may be interested in checking out some of the alternate places to watch the ballgame. The Clevelander Bar is a nightclub-esque area at field level beyond left field. It features a unique view of the field and a swimming pool. Above that, there is standing room available in the Budweiser Bar, which is just in front of the massive glass panels.
The sightlines in Marlins Park are fantastic. Billy the Marlin roams the park, entertaining the young and the young at heart throughout the game. There is organ music played during the game as well. In center field the videoboard offers fans tons of baseball information, and par for the course, is not the normal rectangular shape.
Above the foul pole in left field, pennants for the 1997 and 2003 World Series Championships hang proudly. The Marlins only have one number retired, and that is the number 42 which has been retired by all Major League clubs in honor of Jackie Robinson. The Marlins have to have another player that should be honored in such a way, perhaps Jeff Conine, who is the only Marlin to play in the inaugural year and win two World Series with the team.
Marlins Park is located in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami. This is a significantly residential area, and lacks any real glitz that you may associate with the South Beach area of the city. There are very few pre and post game options for hang outs. Other than the Wendy's across the road, the options are limited to the Batting Cage Sports Bar and the Bowl Bar. However, with the fantastic food options inside the park, getting food outside is a low priority.
Marlins fans are definitely battle tested. Having been jerked around by different ownership groups of the Marlins, fans are more apt to stay away from the park. In 2014, the Marlins are averaging just over 21,000 fans per game. This ranks fourth from the basement in the Majors. The new park, which was believed to be the savior of Miami baseball, only drew an average of 27,000 fans in its opening year. That ranked only 18th in the league. A clear and consistent commitment by ownership is all that will bring the fans out on a regular basis. The fans that are in attendance are pretty quiet until something interesting happens.
Marlins Park is located just west of I-95 and south of the Dolphin Expressway in the Little Havana neighborhood. Getting to the park is not too difficult, although traffic can be difficult at times through the residential streets. There are four large parking structures surrounding the park, which you can prepay for if you wish. If you are interested in public transit, the 7 bus runs to the north of the stadium, and the 12 bus runs to the east. Inside, the lack of capacity crowds makes maneuvering the concourses and getting in and out of the washroom facilities no problem at all.
Marlins tickets can run anywhere from $15 to $235 per game. Good seats behind the plate can be bought for around $40. Parking will run you from $15 to $20. Concessions are a bit on the high side. If you put all of this together, you will get an average return on your investment for Major League Baseball. The return would be better if there were more fans in the stands and the energy was higher. Until more fans come out, the return on investment is only average.
An extra mark for Hall of Fame broadcasters Dave Van Horne and Felo Ramirez, who are both enshrined in Cooperstown. They respectfully provide English and Spanish radio broadcasts for the Marlins.
An extra mark for the LEED Gold Certification environmental status that Marlins Park holds.
An extra mark for the remarkable five no-hitters thrown in Marlins franchise history. Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, AJ Burnett, Anibal Sanchez and Henderson Alvarez have each thrown a no-no for the Marlins; the latter two in Miami.
An extra mark for the Spanish flavor at Marlins Park. All of the concession signs rotate from English to Spanish among other things. The Marlins are clearly attempting to bring in their Latin neighbors of Little Havana to the ballpark.
A trip to see the Miami Marlins is a must for all baseball travellers. The ballpark is unique among all others, and is really a breath of fresh air in what has become a rather stagnant set of designs. Hopefully, the ownership can show a consistent effort to build a winning team, and the fans will return to see the Fish.
Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9
Traffic, parking, directions and food will all need to improve. Park is different but fun, has a taste of disney and South Florida, while bringing the excitement of the Majors.
The brand new ballpark built specifically for the Miami Marlins has a unique Miami flavor to it, one that you might not see at any other Major League stadium. With the new park built near downtown Miami, the Marlins franchise made major changes to how the team looked. With a new logo and colors, new players, and a new location, the Marlins clearly decided to appeal as much as they could to the Hispanic fan base in Miami. The biggest difference between where they play now and Sun Life Stadium is the benefit of playing indoors. The retractable roof allows fans to come watch a game whenever they want now and not have to worry about sitting in 90˚ heat during day games, or risk 1-2 hour rain delays that frequently occurred in the past. In fact, they are planning on opening up the roof just 11 times out of the 81 home games this season.
On the outside of the stadium there is very little to do or see, as the surrounding neighborhood is nothing but residential. When you walk into the stadium, however, you are awestruck. There are two walkways that wrap around the entire stadium. On the lower section, you can find food vendors and merchandise any which way you turn. You can also find the Bobble Head Museum, which consists of over one hundred different bobble heads of baseball players and is interesting to look at. Something else that sticks out right away is the huge sculpture in the outfield. At a height between 65 and 75 feet, it can’t be missed. It consists of palm trees, marlins, flamingos, water, and a rainbow. I see it as resembling something that the Mets have at Citi Field with the huge apple, but even crazier. Every time a home run is hit by a Marlin player, it is activated and lights up, with the marlins going around in circles and water spurting out. I had the pleasure of seeing the very first time it went off, when Omar Infante hit the very first home run for a Marlin in the park.
There really isn’t much of a bad view in the park, as every angle offers a good look at the game.
What I noticed many fans doing was standing along the walkway viewing the game rather than sitting, which is best done behind home plate or in the outfield near one of the many bars. On the upper level, which you can get to via escalator, you get perhaps the best view of downtown Miami looking toward the outfield. Since the stadium looking toward the outfield is glass, you can find terrific views of downtown Miami. Other than that, though, the upper section does not have anything too unique. One more unique thing is the aquarium as the backstop behind home plate. It is built so that no ball can penetrate it, and it houses live fish inside. Also, in left field there is a section called the Clevelander which is basically a club scene with a pool you can swim in, a DJ, and a bar, all on the lowest section of the park. It can hold up to 240 guests, and you must be 21 or older to go in. It is only open to guests who have a specific ticket to get in during the game, but afterwards it is open to anyone of age, and is said that it will stay open much later on weekends.
I spent two games at new Marlins Park, one with the roof and left field panels wid eoopen and one with it shut tight. Without a doubt, this is the best new ballpark to be opened in the majors in years. I did not feel that way at first glance, but the more accepting I became of the contemporary architecture style, the innovative design elements and the integrating of a strong and vibrant Latin culture to the venue, the more it became clear who magnificent Marlins Park is. But keep in mind, you will not be able to enter the ballpark with expectations similar to what you have enjoyed at other ballparks. This one is so different. However, knowing all new ballparks are going to have many of these design elements moving forward (you hear this Oakland and Tampa?), enter Marlins Park with an open mind and submit to the new world in baseball venues.
Four great things about this new ballpark:
1) Free street parking within two blocks.
2) The bakery out front and Taste of Miami inside
3) Tickets available from fans at very reduced prices
4) The Clevelander
Well worth a weekend series!
I have to say I was pretty disappointed by the new Marlins Park. The dimensions are pretty rough and everything seems way to spread out. The atmosphere was decent at best but the fans I spoke with were very friendly. Parking is an ease we found some ten dollar parking pretty close to the ballpark. Ticket prices were at the cheapest 10 bucks which is definitely worth it, just have to say wasn't blown away.
The park is really a nice and unique place to go and see a baseball game. There is an atmosphere I get walking around this park that you rarely feel anywhere else, it's refreshing! However, for those who like to hang by the park and do stuff around town before the game, you will be out of luck as this is not the best part of town. A really old neighborhood surrounds the stadium with virtually no places to eat. Food in the park is actually quite good though!
The fans to me are great, but nothing beyond your typical fan base for a pro baseball game. Access to the park is not easy, but not hard either. There isn't much designated parking, but there are so many people letting you park on their lawns for $10 right in front of the stadium it isn't that hard to find a place. In fact, the time I've had a parking pass it took me longer to get to the right lot because of how traffic was being directed.
If you like to enjoy a good baseball venue without necessarily making an outing around town part of the experience this is one the best parks in the league. Drive a little into better parts of Miami for a nice dining experience if you so desire!
Marlins Park, home to the Miami Marlins, was built on the historic Orange Bowl site in Miami’s Little Havana just west of Downtown Miami and is a beautiful state-of-the-art stadium complete with a retractable roof. The cost to build Marlins Park was $515 million, and many of those millions were spent to ensure that fans have the best stadium experience possible. The stadium is the only Gold LEED-Certified facility in the world with a retractable roof.
For the fact no one shows up, traffic was horrendous enough to back up all the way onto I-95, over a mile away from the main parking areas. Once you manage your way through the traffic jams and sketchy neighborhood, you get shocked by the price of going; thankfully, I got my ticket through work, but there's no way I'd pay $88 to sit along the first base line on my own.
Inside, it's actually a really cool park, even if it does come off as trendy and even a bit tacky. Being able to see the downtown skyline through the left-field glass wall is cool, and watching baseball in 72˚F comfort is always welcomed.
Food is a bit overpriced, but nothing out of the ordinary for a MLB park. Sir Pizza provides pizza in numerous stalls, which is really good, and everything from tacos and burgers are all available. The Cuban sandwiches are wet, though (and how that happens on a hot press is beyond me), and toward the 7th inning, hot dogs, pizzas, and burgers were all SOLD OUT THROUGHOUT THE PARK! How the heck does that happen?! Are they that non-used to 20,000 people they plan on food for only 12k?! That's pathetic.
And that "thing" in the outfield that signifies home runs is so gaudy and absurd, only Miami would be expected to try to pull it off. Somehow it works, but I still have no idea why.
Bright points are the retractable roof and glass wall, which I had the pleasure of seeing in action after the game ended when they started watering the grass and needed the sun in there, and the Clevelander, which is probably the coolest and trendiest bar in any MLB park.
It's not a bad park. As a park, it's better than Tropicana Field, but only marginally. Its neighborhood, access, food, and pricing, however, fail in making a turnaround from their old home in the sizzling South Florida sun. The fact that no one shows up underscores that point.
6900 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138
1700 NW 7th St
Miami, FL 33125
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