Marlins Park Opens With Rave Reviews, Begins New Era Of Baseball In South Florida
Marlins Park hosted its first regular-season game last night, and “it took just one night for the sparkling spaceship of a stadium to feel like home,” according to a front-page piece by Beasley & Rabin of the MIAMI HERALD. A crowd of 36,601 fans “shared in an unforgettable evening.” Beasley & Rabin write, “This wasn’t about a baseball game. Not on this night. It was Miami showing the world what it can do with roughly two-thirds of a billion dollars, and a boss with a taste for colors and curves.” Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria’s vision for the ballpark “was to create a unique entertainment experience that reflected the best of Miami,” and it is “hard to argue with his results.” Former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, whose administration helped approve the building of the venue, said, “It’s been a long road, as you well know, but it’s something I believe in. Today is a dream come true. Today is a day I feel extremely proud of.” Beasley & Rabin note the night was “a celebration, even if there was a glitch or two, like the scene in section 320, where an emergency truck hit a water fountain and water came cascading over some fans’ seats” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/5).
WELCOME TO MIAMI: YAHOO SPORTS’ Steve Henson writes most ballparks "don’t characterize their city,” but Marlins Park “projects a distinctly Miami feel.” South Beach bar The Clevelander is “ensconced beyond the left-field wall, providing a swimming pool, umbrella drinks and salsa music.” Next to it is “a home run sculpture, a tangle of marlins, seagulls and flamingos that will burst into 30 seconds of frenzied movement when a Marlins player hits a home run.” The mango slaw on the hot dogs is “of the same festive color scheme as the sculpture, julienned orange and yellow and green and blue” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/5). CBSSPORTS.com’s Jon Heyman wrote Marlins Park “reflects this lively, fun, splashy city.” Heyman: “There isn't a red brick in the house. The place is glass and steel, and it's colorfully crazy and plenty chaotic. It's a look into the future, and it's totally cool.” The ballpark is “lively with colors and sounds,” steel and glass “comprise a modern masterpiece, and the colors are at the very least awakening” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/4). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes the stadium “accomplished what few sports venues ever do.” Hyde: “It defined this locale perfectly. It said South Florida wonderfully.” He continues, “How many sports venues give off a visual vibe and electric hum of their city from the first game?” The venue “looked like South Florida, right down to having a costumed stone crab, octopus, sea horse and shark run a race between innings in what will become a regular feature” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/5). MLB.com’s Mike Bauman writes, “The new ballpark is visually striking. It is colorful. It is lively. It is diverse. It says ‘Miami’ and it says ‘impressive’ in the same paragraph” (MLB.com, 4/5). ESPN's Dan Shulman said, "If you’re a fan of lime green, if that’s your favorite color, you have come to the right place.” ESPN's Terry Francona: “It’s amazing the differences in cultures (among MLB teams). I’d like to see them put that left field sculpture up inside Fenway.” He added, "It has the South Beach flair to it that you’re not going to see at Fenway or Yankee Stadium. But this is what they wanted" ("Cardinals-Marlins," ESPN, 4/4).
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WORKING OUT THE KINKS: In Miami, Hanks, Sampson & Wooldridge “set out to test the new stadium from a fan’s perspective,” and write Opening Night “had its share of raves, flubs and hiccups.” Despite the “angst over parking, we were able to find a spot at a public garage on the Jackson hospital complex without too much hassle,” for a cost of $10. Public transportation was “more of a challenge.” The trip from downtown “via Metromover and Metrorail took us one hour and 15 minutes, and much of the delay came waiting for the new Miami stadium trolley.” The WiFi “worked surprisingly well in most places.” The one exception was “an area between center field and third base, where WiFi was impossible to access.” There were enough bathrooms, and even with a “sold-out crowd, there was virtually no wait when we visited.” However, fans should expect to “wait in line for food.” The concession stands “struggled to keep up Wednesday night, and the Marlins’ effort to serve higher-end food appears to be the culprit” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/5). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes there were “many fans who braced for bad traffic.” Although there “were a few complaints,” most fans were “pleasantly surprised by the lack of problems.” The Marlins have “only 5,700 on-site parking spaces in their garages and lots.” Those were “sold out Wednesday but are still available for other games.” Fans yesterday “found other options, taking shuttles from off-site lots and a Metrorail station.” Some people even “arrived via the Miami Water Taxi, which has a stop a couple of blocks away on the river.” Most fans “parked in private residences in the surrounding neighborhood, just as they did when they went to football games at the Orange Bowl.” The “priciest spots, close to the stadium, went for $40, but parking could easily be found for $20 or less within two or three blocks” (PALM BEACH POST, 4/5).
A NEW ERA: SI.com’s Eric Mack writes the Marlins "have a new lease on life.” The ballpark is “a new piece of Americana and the energy is South Beach-quality.” Mack: “This feels like a major league city now. It feels like a big-league team. These sound like big-league fans, and home-centric ones to boot.” In the “realm of natural noise, fans are right on top of the action, something you did not get before at Marlins games.” There is “no longer the question of which team these fans are rooting for, which hasn't always been the case” (SI.com, 4/5). In Miami, Greg Cote writes, “Baseball was born again here Wednesday.” The night was “bigger than one game or one result.” It was about “assuring an endless parade of them, assuring the Marlins’ permanence in Miami.” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said, “It’s a new era not just for Miami -- for baseball.” Cote notes the Marlins “hadn’t had an Opening Day this anticipated since the very first one in 1993” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/5). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes under the header, “Miami Marlins’ First Night Is A Loss In The Standings But A Smash Nonetheless” (PALM BEACH POST, 4/5).
WEIGHING IN: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday said that Marlins Park “is a ‘phenomenal’ facility that will ensure the foreseeable baseball future for both this franchise and this area.” Selig said, "It's huge. Every time you can take a franchise, and now know for the next two or three generations that you have it solidified, it's huge.” Selig “referred to the difficulties in getting this facility built and said that it would all prove to be worthwhile.” Selig: “It's an interesting phenomenon, because you go through that period, and taxpayers understandably want to know who's paying for what and why -- perfectly justifiable. But then things happen. The stadium is up.” He added, "It's the sociological value -- what does it do for a community? And five years after the stadium is up, all the people who were critics are gone” (MLB.com, 4/4). Selig said of the park, “It’s a long way from Joe Robbie Stadium” ("Cardinals-Marlins," ESPN, 4/4).
ALL-STAR GAME ON HOLD: Selig said that Marlins Park “won't be receiving an All-Star Game until 2015, at the earliest.” He said that “an abundance of new stadiums in the league -- there have been nine built in the last decade -- has led to a backlog of viable venues” for the game. Selig: "I haven't [awarded] the '13 or '14 All-Star games yet. So let me award that and then we'll talk about it." Selig did say that there “have been discussions about having a World Baseball Classic final at the new Marlins Park” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/4).