Marlins manage to turn stadium opening into week of bad press

The Miami Marlins opened their new stadium with an exhibition game this week, and several things immediately became apparent:

  • Building a 37,000-seat stadium with only 5,700 on-site parking spaces “really stinks,” in the words of one fan. Many attendees as the exhibition game spent more than an hour looking for parking — though given that the Orange Bowl was previously on the same site without parking catastrophies, it’s possible that it’s just going to take a few weeks for people to work out the best lawns to rent space on.
  • The inside looks a bit sterile (aside from the Red Grooms home run sculpture, which looks seriously out of place amid its bland concrete surroundings), and is dominated by support pillars for the retractable roof system.
  • Watching the roof close is as thrilling as watching a really, really broad expanse of paint dry.

And meh reviews of the stadium weren’t even the worst part of the Marlins’ week: That would be when team president David Samson was reported to have called Miamians stupid (though further review of the video indicates that he may have just been saying they’re stupider than local business leaders), called the legislators who gave his team nearly $500 million toward a stadium stupid (this one appears to be true), implied that his new start shortstop Jose Reyes is a money-grubbing mercenary, and admitted that visiting cities like San Antonio was just a ploy to get Miami to cough up stadium money.

None of which should really be all that surprising, given Samson’s track record for outrageous statements. Still, at a time when you’re trying to convince people to buy tickets for the first time in a generation, headlines like this one sure aren’t going to help.


14 comments on “Marlins manage to turn stadium opening into week of bad press

  1. Glad someone else thought the stadium was sterile. I wasn’t that impressed with it. Granted it’s an obvious improvement over Sun Life Stadium and frankly I don’t know what other kind of stadium would have worked in S. Florida (since a “retro” park would have seemed out of place).

  2. I went to the game on Wednesday and thought the place was beautiful. It didn’t seem sterile to me, just not finished yet. There are no pictures on the walls or anything like that, but I’m sure there will be more to look at come Opening Night.

  3. The parking issue is way overblown as well. That site used to accomodate 75K for Dolphins/Canes games with far less dedicated parking spots then 5700 and it was never an issue. Like I said, I went on Wednesday, and I was able to get to the park at 6pm and park with no problem. This isn’t a site issue, it’s a new park issue. It’s common to have problems when thousands of people head to a place they never usually go at one time. With time, the parking will be figured out.

  4. Crazy, even the exhibition game was near empty at what pretty much was the debut of a new stadium. That is NOT good.

  5. They limited ticket sales to 10,000 and 15,000 for the two exhibitions, presumably so they could test out the place without a full house:

    miamiherald.com/2012/03/06/2677575/miami-marlins-eagerly-anticipate.html

  6. As Neil noted, the Marlins are doing a series of soft openings so they can try and work out the problems by the opener. They had 5K at a high school game, then 10K, and 15K against two colleges. On April 1st and 2nd, they will host the Yankees and will limit ticket sales to 25K and 30K before having the place sold out for the opener. It’s a smart strategy. I believe that the Twins did the same with Target Field.

  7. As Neil noted, the Marlins are doing a series of soft openings so they can try and work out the problems by the opener. They had 5K at a high school game, then 10K, and 15K against two colleges. On April 1st and 2nd, they will host the Yankees and will limit ticket sales to 25K and 30K before having the place sold out for the opener. It’s a smart strategy. I believe that the Twins did the same with Target Field.

  8. Oh, I see. I didn’t know that, lol.

    However, I did read a bunch of comments on a Marlins fan website, their SB Nation site, that people didn’t even want to go there. That’s the site with the Kool-Aid drinkers too. It’s a complete farce.

  9. @ joe:

    You may be right but I’m wondering whether it was less a problem for games that happen at most once a week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday, and are offset by things like tailgate parties.

    Multiple that and make it an event every evening and I think things change.

    It’ll be interesting if people are still showing up in 5 years. Is there ample mass-transit into the area? I don’t live in Miami.

  10. Andrew,

    True, Dolphins/Canes games were on mostly on weekends, but the fact is it was still more then twice the amount of people the Marlins will have heading to that site and parking was never a major problem (or at least a problem that kept people from going to games). I’m not saying parking is going to be great, but there are a lot of downtown ballparks with limited parking options and people figure it out. In Miami, 19,000 people go to Heat games in downtown Miami and they have a single on-site garage with about 1,000 spots for season ticket holders. The rest of the people park in private lots and it’s not a big deal.

    No, Miami has very little in terms of good public transportation. There is a train that runs through the city, but it doesn’t have a line that goes to Little Havana (the closest is about a mile from the ballpark). The Marlins and the city have begun trolly service from the closest stops though.

  11. Looks like a steel superstructure, which allows upper decks closer to the field – plus.
    Roof will be a major plus (reference Astros)
    As a civil engineer, the roof closing was spectacular (a minority viewpoint) – it will be interesting to see how the stadium performs under hurricane conditions
    If grass does not work out, field turf is a possible future surface.
    Now all Miami needs is new ownership.

  12. It should allow upper decks closer to the field, but I don’t see much sign of cantilevering. Probably because they don’t want the people in the high-priced seats down below to have obscured views of, um, the roof.

    I’m going entirely on photos, but for a 37,000-seat stadium, this doesn’t look especially compact, especially compared to a place like PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where the upper decks really are pretty close to the field (by modern-stadium standards, anyway – they still can’t compare to a place like Tiger Stadium or even old Yankee Stadium).