South Florida, particularly Miami, has always been football country. It is the long time home of the Dolphins. This Miami squad is the only NFL team ever to enjoy a perfect, undefeated season. That happened way back in 1972, more than forty years ago.
So when the Marlins chose South Beach as their home base, this Major League baseball franchise and member of the National League’s Eastern Division, ran into some fan resistance.
Baseball, of course, is a summer game and it gets extremely hot and humid in tropical Miami, when it is not raining. The Marlins, from their very beginning, had to play their home games in Sunlight Stadium, a ballpark without a roof and, because of excessive heat every day, and no air conditioning, they performed in front of depressingly small crowds.
Team ownership was not discouraged and, with public financing, had a beautiful new ballpark built. It is called Marlins Park and it has a retractable roof and glass panels in the stands behind the outfield that give fans a stunning, unobstructed view of Miami’s impressive downtown skyline.
The roof remains closed for about seventy of the team’s eighty one home games each season so that fans can enjoy the action on the field in complete comfort.
This handsome ballpark with the artwork of the tropics displayed prominently inside and outside the stadium was opened just three years ago in 2012. Its seating capacity is only 36,742. There is standing room for an additional fifteen hundred people.
Those numbers make Marlins Park the third smallest in all of Major League baseball when it comes to seating capacity.
And, while the stands hold a relatively small number of people, the playing field is large. Outfield distances are among the highest of any ballpark in all of baseball. The left field foul pole is a hefty 344 feet from home plate while in right field the distance is 335 feet. The power alleys are deep with distances averaging close to 400 feet. Centerfield is 418 feet away from the batter’s box.
Interestingly, Marlins Park is located in the neighborhood known as Little Havana and was built on the site where the Orange Bowl once existed.
This almost-new venue also has features that merit attention such as a huge electronic scoreboard and a tropical set-up behind the outfield that features moving parts in pastel colors to reflect the tropical location. This set-up is activated, to the delight of the fans, every time a Marlins player hits a home run.
There are also dual aquariums set up behind home plate that are filled with marine life. The glass enclosing the fish is bullet proof and unbreakable.
The Clevelander Bar and Swimming Pool is yet another fascinating feature of this modern ballpark. Fans can swim and then dine while the game is being played. Call it a South Florida phenomenon.
Marlins Park is also home to attractive artwork, much of it sports-related, that is scattered all over the ballpark.
Attendance is still on the low side, but the Marlins are struggling in 2015 and have no chance to make the playoffs. Perhaps things will get better for this team in 2016.