There are 243 home games until the Marlins’ new ballpark is scheduled to open in Little Havana in 2012. So at Monday’s home opener against the Washington Nationals at Dolphin Stadium, the team launched a new scoreboard feature: fun facts about the ballpark.
According to Marlins President David Samson there will be 243 of them – one unveiled at each home game during the next three seasons.
The first one?: The “ballpark retractable roof consists of 8,300 tons of steel, which is the exact weight of the Eiffel Tower!”
The ballpark is already part of the fabric at Dolphin Stadium. The team showed a video on the scoreboard with renderings by architecture firm Populous, the new name for architecture firm HOK Sport.
And the left field wall, which for the past five and half seasons has been covered by a giant Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida advertisement, is now back in Marlins’ hands. The tribe didn’t renew and now the team is using the wall to advertise its Super Saturday concerts; inaugural season in 1993; two World Series championships in 1997 and 2003; and projected 2012 ballpark opening. But Samson’s favorite part is the ballpark rendering and the words “Priority Seating for the New Marlins Ballpark @ Marlins.com."
“I’ve been waiting for six years to get the ballpark seating priority,” Samson said. “It’s been my dream, from the beginning. Reflecting the history was always something we’ve tried to do, this is the year we were able to do it.”
Samson said if the team received “an offer we can’t refuse,” he could see giving over advertising space, but he said the new ballpark seating reference is more valuable.
“The benefits we can derive, by having people buy tickets, priority in the new ballpark, is far greater than what we can get for an outfield wall,” he said.
Samson said the team has already created some 60 committees to consider all aspects of the new venue from naming rights to ticket prices to concession equipment storage areas to marketing.
For the first time since buying the team in 2002, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria faced an Opening Day without questions about getting ballpark financing. Loria said he’s thrilled at thinking of ways to program the new ballpark.
“It’ll be a destination. It’s going to be a beautiful piece of contemporary architecture, and there will be a lot of special things there for fans,” Loria said. “It will be a place where you know the game will be played, you won’t have any inconveniences. There will be air conditioning, so in more ways than one we’re looking at a ballpark that’s the coolest place in town.”
In the meantime, Loria hopes to keep his team competitive and to attract more fans to Dolphin Stadium.
“It may not be the ideal place, but it’s where we are,” he said. “We’re going to deal with it over the next three seasons, but at least we know the rainbow is in front of us. More than a light at the end of the tunnel, we have the rainbow, which I’m excited about. To me, to be able to watch this ballpark grow is what drives me.”
He said he wants to send a message to fans that with ballpark financing approved and ground breaking planned for this summer, the team will be in South Florida for generations.
“It’s OK for them to fall in love with your team, it’s going to be here,” he said before his Marlins opened the season with a 12-6 win over the Washington Nationals. “It’s time to make a commitment and fall in love permanently, we have a terrific baseball team.”