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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Taking in the Miami Beach Bowl is an experience to not be missed among college football fans. However, it has some glaring blemishes upon its facade that show the game has much further to go to become a marquee event. Despite being played in a top-class facility in Marlins Park, the emptiness due to lack of fans and an uneventful feel overall don't help this game break out from the pack.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Unlike most Miami Marlins games, the food and beverage options for the Miami Beach Bowl are somewhat limited. Traditional burgers, hot dogs, pizza, et al are available, but the kosher stand, the visiting team food items, and the "local" food section (usually some Hispanic restaurants and seafood options) are all closed.
Beverages are open all around, however, including the Budweiser stand in the outfield.
While the selection could certainly have been better, it is not as bad as it could be. I think a fair way to call it would be "standard," as there still are other carts open you don't usually see at a sports venue (sushi, anyone?).
The atmosphere at Marlins Park, despite the smaller crowd size due to the schools playing, is certainly electric. Obviously, the closeness of the game had a lot to do with that, but indeed, the feeling of a college football bowl game in a baseball stadium is one that is unique, to say the least.
The bands for both schools were on hand before the game to pump up fans outside of the stadium, and once inside, played wonderfully throughout the contest. Add to that the great excitement from the fans themselves, and you have the perfect recipe for an exciting college football game.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of the atmosphere was that Marlins Park's roof was open all day. Anyone who has been in South Florida in December knows that the weather is almost always a perfect 78 degrees with a light breeze and white puffy clouds floating across the sky. Indeed, the sight of downtown Miami through the vista windows in left field lighting up as night fell and the breeze blew was one that I would wager few college football bowl game stadiums can match.
The neighborhood around Marlins Park isn't exactly Star Island, with lower-middle class housing and apartment buildings everywhere as far as the eye can see. Marlins Park is situated in the middle of Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood. There isn't a lot to see, besides small houses and apartments that have seen better days. Immediately surrounding the stadium is a bar, a few small stores (Walgreen's), and some hole-in-the-wall businesses. With the exception of the view of downtown Miami, there isn't very much that draws one to that location besides the stadium. It also gives off the feel of a sort of shady place with little to be desired. It isn't a place one feels 100 percent comfortable walking down the street in the middle of the night. However, the park isn't far from Miami proper, South Beach, or the airport. Lodging may be an issue immediately around the stadium, but hotels and resorts are plentiful in Miami itself, as well as near the airport area to the west.
The fan goes wild would be more appropriate than the fans go wild. While the Miami Beach Bowl is not one of the top historic bowls like the Orange Bowl or Rose Bowl Game, it is in year number three of existence. Nonetheless, it is not at all a top draw in attendance. The 2016 matchup between Central Michigan and Tulsa was empty, to say the least, and that is saying something for a game at Marlins Park. The upper deck is not offered as a ticket option for fans, due to such low demand. If you're looking for an electric atmosphere, it is hard to find one at the Miami Beach Bowl with such small crowds.
Getting to Marlins Park is the easiest thing about the game day experience. Miami's Dolphin Expressway runs right next to Marlins Park, bridging the gap between I-95 and Florida's Turnpike, meaning you can have easy highway access to the stadium from the north, south, east, and west of South Florida. The centralized location is just one block off of the highway exit.
Parking is also easy. Parking passes for the various parking garages or parking lots around the stadium usually tend to be about $20, but can go up in price, depending on the popularity of the opponent. If you wish not to purchase a parking pass or if they are sold out, every house and parking lot within a mile radius of the stadium sells their front and back yards as parking lots, as well. It may be a longer walk, but you will pay less money.
If you're looking for a new experience in sports, the Miami Beach Bowl has you covered. This game is not only a college bowl game, which in itself is worth the ticket of admission, but it is played in a venue unlike most any others around.
There are plenty of things to see and do in South Florida, so making the trip a full-on experience can make the visit even more rewarding.
For the party animal, South Florida has South Beach, one of the biggest party spots in America. For someone who is more family-oriented or a nature lover, South Florida sports FOUR National Parks within driving distance (Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve).
Indeed, a trip to the Miami Beach Bowl can be much more than just a football game, but a full-on trip of a lifetime, with an exciting bowl game nestled right in the middle of everything else.
Plus, if you're from the north, what better reason do you need to escape the cold of winter than a football game in Florida?
Not to be missed is the bobblehead museum. Located on the main concourse behind home plate, the massive display holds numerous bobbleheads from over the years from not just the Marlins, but for teams all over the country.
The Marlins' Home Run sculpture is also something that is unique. It may be absolutely hideous in the eyes of many fans, looking more like something you would find on the shelves of a cheap street vendor than a piece of artwork when it is activated. The sculpture goes off during the Miami Beach Bowl whenever a team scores a touchdown.
For art lovers, the stadium also is home to various pieces of art around the property. The Home Run sculpture is even an actual registered piece of art. These interesting works can be found all over the stadium.
While the initial matchups at the Miami Beach Bowl aren't what one would call a marquee game, the result was an exciting showcase of college football talent that thrilled fans around the stadium, and on TV, as well.
The Miami Beach Bowl is unique, in that it features a college football bowl game in an MLB stadium. That in itself makes it one of the coolest games of the year in sports, let alone football.
This new game has everything that it needs to be a fan favorite, but for some reason, has yet to capitalize on such potential.
Member Review by ChrisGreenPhotography on Jan 30, 2015
For the first time, football was played at Marlins Park when BYU faced off against Memphis in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl. In the case of the casual Miami Marlins fan, the sight of a football field in the middle of a baseball diamond was one that surely was unique in college football. The Miami Beach Bowl ended up being one of the most exciting games of the 2014-2015 college bowl season, with Memphis outlasting BYU in double overtime, capped off with a news making on-field brawl between the two teams after the game was over.
The most important thing, however, was the overall success of the game. For someone to have staged a non-baseball event in a baseball stadium, the success of their event needed to be big, and I think it is safe to say the Miami Beach Bowl delivered. While some seats were better than others in terms of view, the game fits rather well in Marlins Park. The upper deck and second level in the outfield were closed off. Several seating sections in what would be right field were sold at a discounted price, due to the fact that the rise in the seating led to obstructed views of the field that went all the way to the warning track. However, sit in the middle deck, and you have a prime view of the whole field, while not being on the floor and seeing only what is in front of you.
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