After getting an abbreviated overview of the architectural and transportation plans and with little discussion, Miami City Commissioners unanimously approved this afternoon the permit needed to begin construction of the Marlins’ ballpark in Little Havana. That’s right... a 5-0 vote for the Major Use Special Permit for the $515 million venue.
Earl Santee of Populous (formerly HOK Sport), Rolando Llanes of Civica and transportation consultant Cathy Sweetapple gave commissioners a sense of how the proposed ballpark will fit into the community, that it will be surrounded by parking, retail and as many as 96 residential units, and what kind of traffic it will bring. Santee spoke of how the ballpark will serve as a centerpiece for the Little Havana community and how it will connect the neighborhood. Its open views will allow people in the area to see into the venue at all times and the west plaza will serve as a public gathering place all year long.
“These projects are special and here in this city, this is a unique opportunity to create another special place,” Santee said. “The plan is to connect the neighborhood to a ballpark.”
Commission Chairman Joe Sanchez spoke most dramatically of wanting to ensure the ballpark includes some way to honor the history of its location at the Orange Bowl, where the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes played and where President John F. Kennedy addressed Cuban refugees after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1962.
“There needs to be a history component,” Sanchez said. “Every great stadium whether it’s for football, baseball or hockey has a historic element.”
Sanchez also stressed his interest in ensuring the ballpark stands as an icon that will be seen from nearby roadways.
“This will be one of the best stadiums designed in this great nation of ours,” said Sanchez, who is running for the mayor of Miami. “This is it … After this, it’s the construction.”
No word yet on when the team plans to host a formal unveiling of ballpark renderings, but it’s expected sometime next month. Ballpark construction is expected to begin in July with a planned opening in 2012.