I remember owning a Marlins hat for the first time when I played on my older brother’s baseball team in kindergarten. I remember the Marlins winning the World Series in 2003 when Josh Beckett tagged out Jorge Posada in Game 6 in New York. I remember watching a Marlins game in full for the first time ever when I was home sick from school in third grade, it just so happened it was Opening Day of 2005 (The Marlins beat the Braves 9-0 at home, Juan Encarnacion hit a grand slam, and Josh Beckett earned a win). Don’t judge my obsession when I say that I still remember Rich Waltz’s call on a Mike Lowell grand slam the same season when the Marlins beat the Rangers at home. And the next year I attended my first Marlins game ever, at Camden Yards, on June 22 (2006), one of the greatest comebacks I never saw because I was too tired to stay. But through thick and thin, I had never been to a home Marlins game. Until this month.
April 2nd was my first time ever in Miami, and I liked the city, or what I had seen of it, but despite my love for the Marlins, I am glad that Marlins Park is not my district’s baseball stadium. Watching a Marlins game in 2012 does not feel like it did when I started following the team in 2005, when Encarnacion hit that grand slam into bright orange right-centerfield seats. In my opinion, when the roof is closed at the new Park, the atmosphere is too dark. The lime green color on the outfield walls, despite it’s Miami “feel,” does not fit in with the team’s scheme. The 70-plus-foot home run sculpture is just material proof that Jeffrey Loria tried too hard to make the Park special. The fish tanks behind the plate cannot even be seen by the television cameras. And for any owner out there working on designing a new stadium, you can do nothing worse than separating the fans from the action by raising the outfield seats well above the field and having bullpens push the fans farther back.
I understand why average baseball game-goers love Marlins Park. For a Miami citizen to attend a baseball game from 7 to 10 at night, Marlins Park is perfect. The food is great, the roof makes the atmosphere comforting, and the team is fun. You can sit in comfort, enjoy the un-obstructed views, shop at a relatively-cheap souvenir shop, and enjoy replays on the jumbotron. But analyzing every aspect of Marlins Park, I don’t care for its intricacy and complication.
I am glad that the citizens of Miami are taking a liking to the new brand of the team and the new stadium. The whole idea just oozes with the culture of Miami, but as I said, Loria should have kept it simple. Think of Camden Yards, Nationals Park, AT&T Park, or PNC, all of which are cozy, new stadiums. All of which are in historic, culture-filled cities, and all of which reflect that culture in the form of a state-of-the-art baseball stadium. The Marlins were well on their way to doing this by securing the Orange Bowl site, overlooking downtown Miami. The pastel colors in the uniforms…fine. Fish tanks were not a bad idea, but they can only be enjoyed by fans sitting directly behind home plate, unless you were to know about them, at the park you would be completely oblivious to them. The layout of the park itself is too confusing, as a normal-sized seating section is partitioned into halves or thirds, and locked down by guards checking tickets upon entrance. Again, the lime green walls…ugly. The lighting when the roof is closed…to dim. The outfield walls…too far back.
And the home run sculpture, for the sake of baseball fans trying to enjoy games, is simply too much. All the renderings, still available on Marlins.com, lack the gaudy sculpture. The renderings make the park look spectacular, since everything is perfect in animation. I thought the home run feature was okay the first time I saw it in person, but seeing now, over and over again, and for 81 games each year, I can’t even stand it anymore, and we have only been through 10 games.
It will take a while for me to get used to the newness of the team, everything from the colors to the quantity of fans feels so different. For the purpose of attracting fans, Marlins Park is perfect. But I have my problems with it, and I am in no way dying to return.