Miami Beach, FL
Marlins Park Stadium Miami 16
Rene Triay Photography
Photograph - Photos
Wiki-Pedia: From the inception of the Florida Marlins in April 1993 until October 2011, the team played its home games at the facility currently named Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens. A multi-purpose stadium originally built for football, Sun Life is also the home of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins as well as the Miami Hurricanes college football team. When the stadium was built in 1987, it was designed from the ground up to accommodate baseball and soccer. Dolphins founder Joe Robbie believed it was a foregone conclusion that MLB would come to South Florida, so he wanted the stadium designed to make any necessary renovations for baseball as seamless as possible.
After baseball arrived, it did enjoy some good moments at Sun Life Stadium. That venue drew more than 3 million fans who flocked to see the expansion Marlins in the 1993 season. Attendance swelled to 67,000 in postseason games during theirWorld Series runs in 1997 and 2003.
Despite such preparation and pockets of success, Sun Life Stadium was less than adequate as a baseball venue. Although it was designed from the ground up to easily be renovated for baseball, at bottom it was primarily a football stadium. There were plenty of reminders of that purpose even in the stadium's baseball configuration. The colors of the seats and decor were in the team colors of the Dolphins. When the football season overlapped, cleat marks, as well as silhouettes of hashmarks and logos of the Dolphins or Hurricanes were visible on the baseball diamond. The Marlins reduced capacity to 47,662 (later to 35,521), mainly to create a more intimate atmosphere for baseball. However, capacity would have likely been reduced in any event, since many of the seats in the upper deck were too far from the field to be of any use during the regular season. Even with the reduced capacity, the sight lines were less that optimal for baseball. Most seats were pointed toward the 50-yard line�where outfield grass behind second base was located in the baseball configuration. Lights were not angled for optimum baseball visibility. Players had to walk through football tunnels to get to dugouts that were designed with low ceiling joists. Some of these embarrassing issues were showcased on national television during the two World Series held there. Most notably, some areas of left and center field were not part of the football playing field, and fans sitting in the left-field upper deck couldn't see any game action in those areas except on the replay boards.
Sun Life Stadium was built for games held during the fall/winter football season, not for games in the subtropical summers ofSouth Florida, which feature oppressive heat, humidity, frequent rain, and occasional tropical storms. For most of the stadium's run as a baseball venue, it was the hottest stadium in the majors, with temperatures for day games frequently reaching well above 95 degrees. The Marlins played most of their summer home games at night as a result. The lack of refuge from the uncomfortable climate and disruptive rain delays were considered a cause of chronically low attendance that took hold after the franchise's first fire sale in 1998. Crowds of less 5,000 became increasingly common. Some Marlins players later admitted that they "couldn't wait to go on the road" because Sun Life Stadium had the "worst [playing] conditions" and least fan energy in the majors during years when the team was not a contender.
After original owner Wayne Huizenga claimed he lost more than $30 million on the team, he sold the Marlins in early 1999 toJohn W. Henry. Thereafter, the Marlins began a concerted effort to get their own baseball-only venue. Henry's vision included a retractable roof, believed by this time to be essential due to South Florida's climate. Several ideas were explored on where a new ballpark should be built. The team's desire to leave their original home made for an awkward business relationship over leasing issues with Huizenga, who continued to own the then-named Pro Player Stadium. By January 2002, Henry's stadium proposals were effectively scrapped when MLB Commissioner Bud Selig engineered a three-franchise ownership swap�Henry left to own the Boston Red Sox, while Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria took over the Marlins.
Loria and his stepson, president David Samson, also sought a new, retractable-roof ballpark. The Marlins' second World Series championship in 2003 created some local exuberance for a new ballpark. Then, in January 2004, the City of Miami proposed building a baseball-only stadium for the Marlins at the site of the Miami Orange Bowl that would adjoin the existing football stadium along its northern flank.
August 1st, 2013
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