Perhaps it was just as well the Florida Marlins’ 2010 home opener was a nighttime affair, given that it reached a steamy 88 degrees this afternoon. Turns out it was the team that asked for the 7:10 p.m. start.
“Two things led us to do it at night. One, it’s not a season opener and two, it was a Friday,” Marlins team President David Samson said. “I prefer home openers during the day, no question about it, but season openers.”
The crowd of 40,666 was treated to a festive atmosphere nonetheless, including recognition of Chris Coghlan and Hanley Ramirez for winning last year’s National League Rookie of the Year and Batting Champion awards respectively; Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson throwing out the first pitch; and Creed’s Scott Stapp singing the National Anthem.
Stapp, a Palm Beach County resident, recently forged a partnership with the Marlins that has the singer and the team helping each others' charitable foundations, Marlins Vice President of Marketing Sean Flynn said. Part of the partnership includes Stapp re-writing his song “You Will Soar” as “Marlins Will Soar” complete with lyrics about baseball and the line: “Come on Marlins, make us proud.” A video of Stapp singing the song interspersed with Marlins highlights helped kicked off the festivities.
If you didn’t catch it tonight, Flynn says it will be shown in the stadium as well as online. He says it will be used similar to the way the team uses rapper Pitbull’s “Marlins Time to Represent.” Watch that video below.
Samson said he met Stapp at an airport when their flight was delayed. They began talking and have since exchanged text messages. Stapp also sat in the Marlins' suite during the Super Bowl in February.
One thing that irked at least a few people today was the disappearance of the out-of-town scoreboard – or teal monster – in left field. Remember this (see photo from a few years ago)? That’s no more. No more lineups and out-of-town scores. Instead, there are giant ads for MLB Network, a picture of Billy the Marlin holding a baseball glove, and a sign for a “Hit Me, Win Me” sweepstakes for a Ford truck that a fan can win if a Marlin hits the sign.
The way the Marlins explain it, the sign was malfunctioning last year and stadium ownership decided it was too costly to maintain. The Marlins had the option to pay, but chose not to, Samson said, because fans nowadays are getting real-time scores and updates on their cell phones and pdas.
With the Marlins scheduled to be in their new ballpark in 2012, is it any wonder no one was willing to shell out the dough to fix the board?
The team doesn’t yet have a lease to play at Sun Life Stadium in 2011, but Samson said he expects that to be worked out within a few weeks.
The Marlins introduction cards on the scoreboard show each player in front of an image of the new ballpark. Both Samson and team owner Jeffrey Loria said construction of the new venue in Little Havana is going well. Loria said he visits the site every month and a half or so. “It’s going to be the crown jewel of South Florida when we’re done,” Loria said.
Samson said while the team is entertaining calls from companies interested in purchasing the naming rights, other sponsorship opportunities and suites at the new ballpark, a new sales center for premium seating is expected to open at the ballpark site by late May. He said the team hopes to have a naming rights partner by next April at the latest.