May 22, 2012

centerfieldmaz Visits the New Marlins Park in Miami Florida

On Monday night 5/20/12 centerfieldmaz attended a game at the new Marlins Park located in the Little Havana section of Miami, Florida. The ball park is home to the newly named Miami Marlins, this night they hosted the Colorado Rockies.

I was quite impressed with this new ballpark, it was a lot better than I expected. It was pretty easy to get to coming South down I-95 from Fort Lauderdale. Although there are not many signs directing you there, the large white domed building stands out in the low rise neighborhood. It almost looks like a giant space ship  landed in the middle of a quiet town. It reminds me of the setting of the old parks like Wrigley Field & Fenway Park.

There are four parking garages that surround the building and when you leave your car your right at the entrance to the ballpark. I am sure if there are capacity crowds for big events the area can get congested, we all know the hassle of leaving a four level parking garage when full. Also the streets surrounding the area are not big & will get tied up pretty fast. We got there way early & leaving wasn't that bad as we left just as the game was about to end.

The ballpark is the third smallest baseball venue, seating 37,000 fans. It is the sixth park with a retractable roof, which takes 15 minutes to open or close.

Florida Palm trees line the walkway into the park and a very courteous staff is more than happy to help you with any questions you may have. The roof was closed on this night making it a comfortable air conditioned environment. I am not big on domes but I can certainly understand the value of one in South Florida between the heat & the thunderstorms.

You can walk around the whole stadium from the main concourse on the Promenade level. There are plenty of eating options, from hot dogs, burgers & fries to Pizza, a Kosher Deli & excellent South Florida Cuban fare. In the left field area we ate at the Taste Of Miami, enjoying some awesome Pork sandwiches, classic Cuban Sandwiches, tamales & a side of plantain chips. The food was great.

This was the only area of the ballpark where you were actually able to stand up & eat. There was a long counter approx. 40 feet long underneath the huge 60 foot tall windows which overlook downtown Miami. The view is beautiful & the sunset over the city was spectacular.

As you walk around the outfield you pass the back of the large Fish Fountain. This is a mechanized sculpture that illuminates with Marlin fish leaping out of the water, along with sea gulls flapping their wings under rotating suns when a Marlin player hits a HR. The fountain also shoots water into the air, all representing a celebration of the beaches of South Florida.

We were lucky enough to see it in action when Gian Carlo Stanton hit a dramatic Grand Slam HR off the Colorado Rockies Jamie Moyer. The HR was a mammoth 440 foot shot that knocked out some panels of the Lefty field scoreboard.

Other features of the Marlins Ballpark include a huge fish tank with live tropical fish located located behind the home plate backstop area. The classic Bobble Head Museum which features bobble heads from all MLB teams throughout the years, including reserved spots for ones being distributed this year.

A swimming pool in the Clevelander (a South Beach nightclub) section of the outfield, complete with a bar, dancing girls & a private seating area right behind the left fielder next to the bullpen.

There is a small tribute to the old Orange Bowl which was once located on this very site. The Orange Bowl was home to many great Miami Dolphin teams including the 1972 undefeated team, as well as Super Bowls & classic College Bowl games.

There is also dancing & acrobatic entertainment by the Mermaids, Manatees & Billy the Marlin in between innings.

The blue seats seem to all have pretty good views especially down in the lower section where we sat. There is a huge scoreboard in right center field that shows clear video replay & focuses on the fans in between innings. During play it is quite busy with stats & player information. There is another board high up in left field as well.

All in all it is an exciting time in Miami for baseball. There are friends, families, people of all ages enjoying the sights & atmosphere of this great new ballpark. I had been to games before at the old ballpark & never seen the excitement surrounding the team like now.

The fans have become well knowledged & dedicated to their team. The fact that Miami is a big vacation spot also makes it likely the visiting team will have always have a few fans on hand as well. I have been there for Mets games & they draw very well. I was surprised to see a decent amount of Rockies fans there on Monday night.  This is a friendly place & a great baseball experience from what I have witnessed. 

As a Mets fan I must say it was weird watching Jose Reyes in a different home uniform in a different ballpark. He is already one of the most popular Marlins players as Reyes #7 Jerseys are everywhere. And yes the "Jose Jose Jose" theme song is alive & well in Miami.

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