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Marlins Park

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BUILT: 2012

CAPACITY: 37,000

FIRST GAME: April 4, 2012 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals (Cardinals 4, Marlins 1)

DIMENSIONS:

Left field: 344 feet
Left-center field: 386 feet
Center field: 422 feet
Right-center field: 392 feet
Right field: 335 feet

Marlins Park is the ballpark used by the Miami Marlins beginning in 2012. Located in downtown Miami, FL's "Little Havana" neighborhood, on the site once occupied by the Orange Bowl, it replaced Dolphin Stadium, used by the team since its creation in the expansion of 1993. Because the city of Miami invested a significant amount of public funds in the baseball-only stadium, it insisted that the team change its name to reflect that of the city. It was thus with a new name and logo that the Marlins began play in their new facility.

The first major league game played at Marlins Park was an exhibition game between the Marlins and the New York Yankees on April 1st. Tickets went on sale on February 18th and sold out within 4 hours. There were also a pair of spring training games played between the Marlins and local college teams put on to test the park's new facilities with limited crowds on hand; the first of these was against the University of Miami on March 6th. The first regular season game was the April 4th Opening Day game against the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, also serving as the National League's official season opener. The Cardinals won that game, 4-1.

Marlins Park cost $634 million to build, three-quarters of which came from public funds. The funding mechanism was in fact so complex that the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the issuing of the bonds that were sold to investors, looking for evidence of misleading information that could amount to securities fraud. The ballpark is equipped with a retractable roof, an important feature given how much rain delays were a plague at the Marlins' previous home. There are also window pannels that can be opened or closed to allow fresh breezes to come in from the outside. Contrary to most parks built in the previous two decades, it makes no attempt at capturing a retro look. Reflective of team owner Jeffrey Loria's background as an art dealer, the park features a number of works of art, including reproductions of paintings by Joan Miro and Roy Lichtenstein done as huge mosaics. There is also a bobblehead museum in one of the concourses. The ballpark also features a pair of large aquariums behind the backstop, but its most visible feature is a huge, garish sculpture in centerfield that Miami Herald columnist Linda Robertson described as follows:

It is so tacky, therefore so Miami. Red Grooms designed it, complete with pink flamingos, a seagull, a sun, ocean waves, and two mechanized marlins that will jump and swim when a Marlins homer is hit.

The attempt to find a modern look for the stadium was no accident. As team President David Samson explained:

"We used Miami as an excuse to do things that other cities couldn't get away with. We did that with our uniforms, our logo, with the design of the ballpark … Everywhere you look, it's things that if they were anywhere else, people would say, 'You can't do that.' In Miami, people say, 'Oh, that's Miami.' You have to take advantage where you are."

This bold direction, combined with the new team name and uniform design, was part of an attempt to build a completely different identity for a franchise which had never conquered the hearts of fans in south Florida in spite of its two World Series titles as the "Florida Marlins". However after the Marlins were unsuccessful in fielding a truly competitive team after spending freely before the 2012 season, ownership conducted a fire sale before the 2013 season started, creating a lot of bitterness among the fan and depressing attendance.

First indications were that the ballpark could be a home run haven with the roof open, but more neutral with it closed, which should be the most frequent condition during the summer given south Florida's frequent rainstorms. However, it turned out that homers were hard to come by as batted ball traveled poorly, slowed down by Miami's humid and heavy air (given the city's low elevation). The outfield is asymmetrical, with the right foul pole being 9 feet closer to home plate than the left one, but the right field power alley is 6 feet deeper than its counterpart. The fence follows a regular curve in right field, but curls toward home plate left of center field before assuming a regular arc.

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