Big Fish In A Smaller, Nicer Pond

The Miami Marlins are doing everything new in 2012. New players like Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, players with new names like Giancarlo “Don’t Call Me Mike” Stanton, a new manager in Ozzie Guillen, and even a new stadium in Marlins Park. I was fortunate enough to attend the 1st game in the ballpark that replaced the Orange Bowl in Miami’s Little Havana. Here’s a look into the newest stadium in the Majors.

From the outside of the stadium it looks more like futuristic spaceship than a ball park. The roof here is not over the field yet and becomes a canopy for people entering the stadium. Sadly, Marlins officials decided to close the roof, despite the nice weather to let the players get used to the roof.

There is a nightclub in left field next to the bullpen. There’s a decent sized pool inside The Clevelander.

Outside the stadium, there was a pretty festive mood. As you can see, the roof has now been moved over the field.

Here is the view from behind home plate. There’s a lot to take in. The nightclub, the giant video screen, and yes the new home run structure that sticks out on left center. We’ll get to that next. Strangely absent, any reference or banners to the Marlins two World Series titles, maybe they just hadn’t gotten them in yet.

The feature in Marlins Park everyone is talking about. This structure has it all, bright colors, marlins, flamingos, palm trees, sunshine. It’ll be even more interesting to see it working completely when the regular season starts and it lights up with every Marlins home run.

This is the back of the structure, painted steel and you can see the mechanisms that let it work.

The bobblehead museum on the concourse behind home plate is the biggest surprise in the stadium. Every fan stopped to take a look at it, as it features every bobblehead that teams have given away to fans in recent years. Even more impressive is that they somehow get the heads to continually bobble inside!

Very nice touch by the park to honor its Orange Bowl roots. I never knew Satchel Paige had pitched a game there in the 1950’s.

I also very much liked this touch as well by the Marlins. Instead of just the feet marker on the wall, they added markers over the stands and on glass at the edge of the stadium. 447 to the left field glass? I bet Giancarlo Stanton hits that this season. They also have a 502 marker in dead center and a 448 marker in the upper deck of RF at the edge of the ballpark.

There is even an aquarium inside the backstop! With real fish! Don’t worry, the aquarium is made from Kevlar and will be able to withstand foul balls and wild pitches bouncing off of it.

There will be celebrity bartending appearances after games at The Clevelander. This games one was new closer Heath Bell, as you can see Marlins Park has some kinks to work out still.

I’ve gotta get in one action shot of course. Here’s Giancarlo Stanton about to single off of CC Sabathia to tie the game at one. I’ve gushed enough about Stanton on the podcast, really think he’s a sleeper for NL MVP. My predictions for the season are coming soon.

There it is your tour of new Marlins Park! There are a lot of great features and it seems the Marlins are trying to bring a festive atmosphere to games. If you go, make sure you arrive early and take advantage of the $8 all-you-can-drink Pepsi in a souvenir cup deal. I know I did. Marlins fans have certainly upgraded over sharing in Sun Life Stadium with the Dolphins.

-Bryan Mapes

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