The Marlins have signed their first free agent of the offseason, but this one is an addition to the new ballpark. On Thursday, the ballclub announced a sponsorship deal with The Clevelander, a hotel on Ocean Drive in South Beach. According to Juan C Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel, The Clevelander will open a club in the "La Playa" located in left field beside the Marlins' bullpen.
The "La Playa" area has a pool and was to mimic a beach area unlike the Marlins' previous rendition of a jacuzzi area near the team's bullpen in right field at Sun Life Stadium.
“We want this ballpark to be different, and the Clevelander is an example,” Samson said. “It’s just not done anywhere, and you can’t do this in most cities, but in Miami you can, so why not take advantage of where we are? We don’t need fireplaces. We need entertainment venues, and that’s what we have.”
The Clevelander Poolside Bar and Lounge at Marlins Ballpark is expected to be open year round, before and after games, but it would also have the option to be booked for a private gathering during a game.
As for the actual naming rights of the whole ballpark, team president David Samson, who said he expects to have a deal finalized by March, will now delay announcement beyond the team's November 11, 2011 unveiling of the new logo, uniforms and color scheme.
Originally I thought it would be named Captain Morgan's Corner, primarily because that name is featured in the 3D seat viewer on the Marlins website. However, this is located in the plaza area above The Clevelander Poolside Bar and Lounge so it's possible this might still be the case, but we won't know for sure down the road when further naming rights of sections of the ballpark are announced.
Speaking of the new addition, quite a coincidence it will be named "The Clevelander," after all, LeBron James came from Cleveland to Miami to play for the Heat and this can be seen as a homage to him even though it really isn't.
But with the Red Sox in town next season in interleague play, you got to wonder whether Josh Beckett and teammates will head on over on their non-pitching day for a drink or two.
As for the naming rights, the Marlins have kept delaying the announcement for months now, which to a degree I would point back to the MLB considering giving the 2015 All-Star game to Wrigley Field or Nationals Park and not the Marlins' new digs. Perhaps they want to punish the Marlins for going with a liquor company, maybe Bacardi (no stadium is sponsored by a liquor company, Miller Park, Busch Stadium and Coors Field are sponsored by beer), and the team might either be pursuing alternatives or trying to convince MLB this can work.