This review was originally published on www.stadiumjourney.com.
When the Florida Marlins began their existence as a Major League franchise in 1993, it seemed as though the league had expanded to a perfect market. There was a diverse community of baseball lovers waiting to soak up the sun and take in a ball game.
Unfortunately, there was no baseball stadium for the team, so they became co-tenants with the Miami Dolphins in what was originally known as Joe Robbie Stadium. In 1996 it became Pro Player Stadium, then Dolphin Stadium in 2005, and finally Land Shark Stadium in 2009.
There is something inherently bad about seeing baseball played in a football stadium.
Currently construction is underway on a new facility that will be ready to play in in 2012. The Marlins organization is as anxious as the fans for this to occur, and they have a countdown when each game becomes official to inform fans of just how many more games have to be played in this less than ideal setting.
FANFARE Score: 14
Food & Beverage: 2
Heading into this stadium, I was excited for the Cuban delights that I expected at this ballpark. I was extremely disappointed. Because of the low attendance, the Marlins don’t open all of their vending stations for weekday baseball. The worst part about this is they offer food and beverage guides so you can read about everything you’re missing.
Specifically, the Everglades BBQ Company stands would have been a welcome sight. They reportedly offer pulled pork sandwiches, smoked turkey legs, and pulled pork nachos. I found no Cuban food available, and the remaining offerings were pretty pedestrian. The fries were decent. The pizza was worse than most.
However, I did find the mojito stand to be outstanding. With a choice of frozen or on the rocks, I would recommend getting the large size, as the small will only leave you wanting to go back for a second minty lime beverage.
It really is a shame that the Marlins don’t do more to highlight their success inside the ballpark. Their two World Series titles in their young history are showcased no more prominently than USC winning the Orange Bowl in this stadium. There are large areas dedicated to each decade since the stadium opened and some of the historic things that have happened, but it is not baseball-specific enough.
Partially because of the team’s inability to keep their talented players and sustain their success, there are only two numbers retired: Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 and Carl Barger's No. 5. Barger was the first team president who died of a brain aneurysm before the team played its first official game. They retired No. 5 in his honor.
Watching a game can be difficult as all seats were built to see a football game. Consequently, everything points towards the 50-yard line, which is just past the second baseman. Luckily the crowd is sparse enough that you can turn your entire body towards home plate.
When the new Marlins stadium opens in 2012 in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, things should change in this aspect of seeing a Marlins game. For now, there is nothing within walking distance from the game. The closest place to go would be a Walmart with a McDonald's inside, and that’s about a mile away.
One thing you know about Marlins fans is they must really love their team if they bother to come to this venue to watch them play.
Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many fans who are there. The fans for the opposing team (Phillies in this case) outnumber the home fans by a 3-to-2 ratio. There are certainly some die-hards in the bunch, but not enough to elevate the fanbase from below average.
Here’s the good news: Parking is plentiful, and there is never a line for the bathroom. Traffic to and from the game does not seem very bad.
Unfortunately, there really is no other option than to drive. A taxi from any main tourist area of Miami will cost you $50 or more, and there are no public transportation options available.
Return on Investment: 2
Land Shark Stadium is not currently worth the price of admission. There is nothing remarkable about seeing a game at this stadium. There is nothing remarkable to eat. There is nothing remarkable about the location.
Extra Points: 1
Plenty of sunshine and a frozen drink can make this experience pleasant for a while.
The only scenario where I would recommend seeing a baseball game in this stadium is if you are one of those baseball travelers who wants to get as many stadiums under your belt as possible. If that’s the case, you’ve got until the end of the 2011 season to make your pilgrimage to south Florida.
For everyone else, wait until 2012 for the prospect of new and better things to come.
Paul Swaney is a Co-Founder of Stadium Journey.