The Florida Marlins’ new ballpark hit another milestone last week, when the first of the beams for the track for the retractable roof were installed. Each one takes about 10 hours to put in place. Installation will continue through this month and next.
During a luncheon with the media on Tuesday to kick off the 2010 season, Marlins President David Samson said the venue’s construction is 22 percent complete. He said he has daily meetings about construction and planning for the ballpark and visits the site two to three times a week for meetings and to conduct tours. He expects to be visiting the site daily by summer.
Samson said a marketing center for selling suites, club and premium seats is expected to open at the site in April or early May.
He said talks to secure a corporate naming rights partner for the new ballpark are ongoing and he hopes to reach a deal “as soon as possible, but in no case later than Opening Day of ’11, but it could be sooner.”
Meanwhile, at the team’s current home, Sun Life Stadium, Samson said he’s meeting with Dolphins officials to hammer out a lease for the 2011 season since the team’s current lease ends after the 2010 season. He said he is not optimistic the team’s current terms will improve.
“Of course we want to do better because doing better would mean more revenue which would mean more payroll,” Samson said. “I’m not holding out hope that better is an option, I’m actually trying to protect against worse.”
Samson predicts "a tad" more season ticket holders in 2010 than the 5,000 the team had in 2009. He said he thought more people would see an urgency to buying tickets to secure seats in the new ballpark, scheduled to open in 2012.
“The response has been, ‘well, listen, I know I’m going to get in the area I want, so there’s no rush’,” Samson said. “What I’m telling them is ‘listen, some of these areas are going to be sold out before you have a chance.’ So for example, I’ve had people who want to buy the front row in our new batter’s box we haven’t announced what the name is but it’s coming. The front row is sold out, it’s done. Front row behind the dugout, those areas are sold out.
“If you don’t have your place in line, the seats you think you’re going to get aren’t going to be available. I think the urgency will come. There was a far greater, like with the Twins, a far greater increase the year before [the new ballpark opened] than two years before. So I think we’re still a year away from the big bump," Samson said. "I still expect more fans this year, we have a good team that’s worth supporting, we have a ballpark that’s coming up, there is no more excuse, other than no roof and no air conditioning."