The Marlins have scheduled their ceremonial ground-breaking for Saturday, July 18 and the public’s invited.
That’s assuming, of course, that financing for the new ballpark can be secured, but officials are optimistic given the ratings the bonds received so far from the rating agencies last month.
Miami-Dade County officials were to begin selling the bonds Tuesday and Wednesday, but those dates have since been moved to June 17 and 18. Marlins President David Samson says the delay isn't cause for alarm.
"The ratings were positive," Samson said. "We’re confident there will be individual and institutional buyers for these bonds."
Assuming the bonds are sold, grading and site preparation are to begin July 1 at the former site of the Orange Bowl. Then the ceremonial ground-breaking will be held on July 18, complete with team, county, city and Major League Baseball officials, and, of course, those fancy shovels. Fans are invited, too.
"It’s going to be, and we try not to over use the word, but a historic day," Samson said Monday afternoon before the Marlins-San Francisco Giants game at Land Shark Stadium, where rain was threatening once again. "It’s a day we’ve all been working toward, seven years personally, and our organization for over 10 years."
Samson said team officials along with representatives of their architect and construction manager have been putting in long hours -- as much as 18 a day -- to prepare for the ballpark. He said on Monday, for example, the ballpark team worked on finalizing seat counts, including ensuring that no sections have rows with only one seat: "We don’t know of many people who would buy a season ticket of one," he said.
The team examined entrances and exits and the time it takes to get from section openings, known as vomitories, to seats, and the sightlines for fans when people are walking to and from vomitories. Then there is permitting for the 70 or so bid packages for construction; and for the 16 trailers that will be on-site during construction. The trailers have to be placed carefully to allow for the movement of trucks and cranes at the location, Samson said.
There was also a discussion, Samson said, of the actual ground-breaking event -- how to get power to the site and what kind of shovels to order. And yes, Samson said he feels enormous pressure.
"We cannot have a delay," Samson said. "We will not go over budget."