Florida Marlins owner and art dealer Jeffrey Loria has promised his team’s new ballpark will be a work of art and unlike any other baseball stadium. That’s why he’s focused on creating a modernist structure of sleek white stucco, silver metal and glass.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County’s Art in Public Places Trust continued Loria’s theme, approving proposals for $5.3 million in public art projects planned for the ballpark, including a playful, dynamic home run celebration feature, budgeted at $2.5 million, by renowned multimedia pop artist Red Grooms. Grooms' work was selected from several entries after a series of meetings.
It’s still conceptual and difficult to describe, but it’s something like an arcade game decorated with pelicans and seagulls, blue sky and clouds with a series of marlins that will actually jump after a Marlins player hits a home run. (See picture at left) Grooms is known for large scale works of urban-scapes and buildings.
Grooms, who was born in Nashville, said he drew on his memories of visiting Daytona as a teenager. He remembered seeing the ocean for the first time, the pelicans and seagulls, he said.
“All that stuck with me,” said Grooms, 72. That’s how he decided “to incorporate the great natural beauty of Florida and wildlife” into his proposal. “I am featuring beautiful clouds and waves.”
Grooms described the home run feature, which he learned of from Loria, as “a pretty unusual project. It’s like making up a kind of new event or game or something.”
Marlins President David Samson said Loria was insistent the home run feature be a work of art.
"It's very important to Jeffrey that our ballpark be the museum of baseball," Samson said. "The home run feature is the perfect opportunity to differentiate Miami from the other ballparks. No one will be able to look at that and say 'is that art or is that baseball?' It's both, it's art in a baseball ballpark."
Initially the project was expected to have a feature rise from a pool of real water, but county officials liked the idea of using Grooms-designed water instead. The key to the work is part of it will be visible even if a game isn’t going on, but it will spring to life once a Marlin hits a home run.
This video gives a sense of the type of celebration Grooms has in mind, though it is likely to change before the final work is completed:
Meanwhile, the trust also approved another $2.7 million in projects for the ballpark:
A series of colorful tiled pathways by Carlos Cruz-Diez that will be located in the ballpark’s west side plaza entrance (see image at left of his work at the airport in Caracas), and two projects by Daniel Arsham and Snarkitecture. One of Arsham’s works is lighting for the ballpark’s roof columns.
The other, called a commemorative marker, will honor the history of the old Orange Bowl. It will be a series of giant concrete letters that spell out “Miami Orange Bowl” just like the old stadium’s original sign. The sculpture will represent the letters as if they fell off the Orange Bowl, and landed on the ballpark’s east plaza in different combinations spelling out other words, including “WON” and “GAME.” The letters will be the size and look of the ones that graced the Orange Bowl, but will be concrete and situated so fans can touch and sit on them.
“They have become one with the site and people can interact with them in whatever way they are comfortable, in terms of spurring memories of their relationship with the Orange Bowl and with events they’ve been to at that site,” Samson said. “They’ll be able to see the letters as part of the landscape, be able to come in actual contact with them … it’s sort of a common psychological thing when you can touch something it can spur a memory or smell something.”