After 18 seasons, the Florida Marlins will inaugurate their own baseball-specific facility for the 2012 season.
The team has been rebranded as the Miami Marlins complete with a new look to go with the new address. The 37,000-seat, retractable roof stadium in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood sits atop the former site of the legendary Orange Bowl.
Yesterday's fan fest afforded fans from across the metropolitan area the opportunity to tour the new digs, meet some of the new faces in the roster and get excited about the upcoming season.
The retracted roof shades the west plaza, the main entrance into the stadium.
Today, like presumably many game days, entertainment options abounded in this heavily trafficked area. Alternative sights from around the plaza played on the big screen overlooking the area: a salsa band lighting up a stage, enthusiastic fans milling about, kiddies at the bounce house, young and old alike taking turns on the throwing pitches at radar guns.
The stadium's exterior mirrors its interior. With white and aluminum siding and angled, expansive glass panels, it looks clean and contemporary. Taken together in such a massive dose it's all a bit sterile, the feeling is more akin to walking through the an international airport terminal than into a ballpark.
The main ramp from the plaza in front of the stadium leads fans into the stadium's main concourse to this spot.
To the right, one sees right field, the overhanging home run terrace (reminiscent of the old Tiger Stadium) and the visitor's bullpen. To the left, there is first base, the visitor's dugout and home plate.
Perhaps the finest architectural feature of the new stadium is straight ahead: the view of downtown Miami skyscrapers through an open glass wall beyond left field.
The color palette is decidedly tropical. The blue of the seats and the green of outfield walls and batter's eye are brighter shades than what is prominent in most ballparks.
With the roof open today a good portion of the field, the third base side stands and all of left and center field are bathed in sunlight.
The edge of the right field home run porch is seen here at the right. Although fans weren't permitted to meander into these sections, I imagine the seats give the impression of being on top of the field.
Logan Morrison will be looking to give the fans up here more than a few souvenirs in 2012. The only drawback to sitting up in the terrace is that fans can't see the biggest of the video boards, which sits above this section.
Visiting relief pitchers will be afforded the chance to engage in spirited debate with the home fans from their bullpen location. At field level, but directly below two levels of stands, the bullpen is located in ideal heckling territory.
For the fans, it's a great vantage point back towards home plate, the dugouts and the press boxes.
From the right field stands you can take in almost the entirety of the first base line and the retracted roof. The roof can close in about 15 minutes and will likely be closed for the majority of Marlin's home games.
In the center field seats looking towards the left field foul pole, you can see the Marlin's bullpen and the (how could you miss it) home run feature.
I suppose kitsch is the only accurate adjective I could use to describe the sculpture made by New York artist Red Grooms. Four overlapping parabolic arches of red, blue, orange and yellow are feted with poorly represented marlins, flamingos and palm trees.
Lights and whirling animations of the marlins are part of what pretends to be a flashy scene after Marlin home runs.
It's out of proportion, it's gaudy and, in its attempt to represent the home city through art, it's downright insulting. It would better fit in at a carnival or the 18th hole at mini-golf course. Also, the highest arches obstruct the field view from the outfield promenade.
There is plenty of standing room in the promenade above center and left field. Even on a very warm day in Miami, there was a nice breeze blowing through the open glass wall.
If the tickets were around $10, this would be a great place to grab a soda ($3.50) and a jumbo hot dog ($4.50) and check out a Marlins game in 2012 and beyond.
If you do get a standing room only ticket just make sure you get to the game early. Otherwise you might end up standing behind the home run feature with your view of the field completely or partially blocked.
The best seats in the house. The top of these sections around home plate have huge air ducts blowing cool air down onto the fans. Two aquariums, already stocked with tropical fish, feature in the backstop.
This shot is from around two o'clock in the afternoon, when many of the Marlins' day games will be played. The sun will be higher in the sky come summer, but these shadows may factor into pitches to home plate and picking up the ball for outfielders as well as left side infielders if the roof is kept open.
The stadium interior, connected by the wide main concourse, is easy on the eyes. The exposed duct work and rounded white columns were interesting horizontal and vertical elements. The seats behind home plate and down the lines afford the closest proximity to the action. Oddly, only a few of the outfield sections run up against the field of play.