Early reviews on Marlins Park: It’s big

No home runs were hit in last night’s inaugural regular season game at Marlins Park in Miami, which despite the sample size has many thinking the place plays too large. Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton hit two blasts that would’ve been out at some parks (including former Marlins home Sun Life Stadium), yet ended up as warning track outs in the new stadium. Kyle Lohse threw a no-hitter through six. The roof was open, which may have helped knock down fly balls. The Marlins don’t play another home game until April 13th against the Astros. Against Houston pitching and with a closed roof, we’ll probably see different results, including the proper debut of the park’s controversial home run feature.

Comparison of dimensions between the new Marlins Park and the team's old home, multipurpose Sun Life Stadium

Lance Berkman hit one of the few extra base hits, a double, before saving a blast for his postgame interview (sorry, no option to embed).

It’s the biggest ballpark in the game. People keep trying this big ballpark deal and it never works. I mean, Detroit moved the fences in, (the Mets) moved the fences in. There’s a reason why it’s 330-375-400. That’s a fair baseball game. You try to get too outrageous and you get something that I think’s gonna be detrimental to (the Marlins).

Berkman, who laid on a bit of his usual snark, went on to talk about what baseball fans look for when taking in a game. Though he liked the architecture, Berkman didn’t much care for the Marlins’ game presentation.

One of the things about baseball that people gravitate towards is nostalgia. That’s why they love Wrigley Field, they love Fenway Park, because you can kind of step back in time. What they’ve tried to do here is step forward in time because (of) a lot of the things you don’t normally associate with baseball. You don’t see cheerleaders at games, they were there tonight. You don’t see flamenco dancers, they were there tonight. You don’t see DJ’s and bands and stuff during the game, you saw that tonight. A lot of things that they’re trying to advance the game – I’m not sure that baseball fans embrace that kind of change.

We’ve had this nostalgia-vs.-progress/modernism debate here on the blog several times and as recently as earlier in the week. It doesn’t manifest itself solely in architecture or design, it’s also a matter of packaging the game. While Berkman’s statement may be a bit presumptuous, it touches on the not exactly black-and-white debate that’s raged on about the need for a “true” or “pure” baseball experience versus something that is more accessible for casual fans and younger generations. Personally, I want a modern form and a simple, uncluttered game presentation. What do you think?

Also, take a look at the blog’s Twitter feed for my initial reactions to Marlins Park. I expect to visit later in the year as I make an East Coast sweep, so I hope to have a review shortly afterward.

Added 4/6 11:37 AM – The New Yorker has a brief article about Marlins Park called “The End of the Retro Ballpark“.

37 thoughts on “Early reviews on Marlins Park: It’s big

  1. No corporate sponsor yet, apparently. But it does have a bobblehead museum. The mayor got recalled from office for shoving this ballpark down taxpayers’ throats.

  2. Meanwhile, watching Red Sox/Tigers on ESPN from GORGEOUS Comerica Park. I yearn for the day that we can all be in attendance together at GORGEOUS Cisco Field (with a beer(s) in hand of course). Alas, another Opening Day, another day going by without a @#$%& decision from MLB. Yes, I can remain patient, but seeing all of these GORGEOUS ballparks on Opening Day for and..well..it’s not getting any easier. Mr. Wolff, if you read this blog, please try to make it happen soon. Oh yah: Congrats to the Marlins and Miami.

  3. @pjk,
    We all know what you’re going to say, so don’t say it!

  4. I can’t wait until they use that neon green fence/backstop trim as a special effects green screen.

  5. yeah the park looked and played big when watching the highlights of some of the balls put in play. did not like the lime green they had plastered all over the park. that cf structure is even a worse idea than splash mountain feature hat the angels built during their renovation back in the mid to late 90s. still i’d gladly switch parks with the marlins.

    i’ve said it before but i do hope cisco field plays more hitter friendly as the park dimensions and the hotter weather down in sj compared to both sf and oak when each city’s venue has to deal with the cold air during home night games should play a huge role on how the park in sj eventually plays.

    seems like all of the west coast parks tend to favor pitching. coliseum(oak), at&t(sf), dodgers(lad), petco(sd), angel(laa), safeco(m’s). you can have a hitter friendly park and still have great to good pitching not totally be effected by it long term. sure nyy/phi park when they opened played really small and were thought to be jokes of a park with flyballs that seemed to be caught in some jet streak ala arlington that fly out with ease but that doesn’t seem like the case now.

    compare to these massive parks like safeco/at&t that haven’t pulled their fences in like chw, det, and recently now the nym have done and those parks play a huge role imo on why no big name fa hitters want to sign there and why for most of the time the teams that play there struggle offensively. if the a’s pitching 3, 4, or 5 years from now is as good as some project it to be they should handle a hitter friendly cisco field just fine eventually.

  6. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I’m in the nostalgia camp.
    .
    I grew up in Hawaii where we regularly attended games at the Old Honolulu Stadium, home of the PCL’s Hawaii Islanders. The stadium was old, smelly, and terminte eaten, but it had character and a certain charm. It was located in the middle of a neighborhood, and had a parking lot which could maybe fit 200 cars. Wooden bleachers stretched down the first and third base lines, and out into the outfield. Individual seats were only found in the grandstand area around homeplate.
    .

    .
    The old 23,000 seat termite palace was torn down in 1976 and a new 50,000 seat stadium was built in the suburbs, complete with a huge asphalt parking lot. Plastic folding seats replaced the wooden bleachers, and a green Astro Turf carpet took the place of the cool green grass. The new stadium was new, modern and smelled good, but it was also cold and sterile. Baseball in the new stadium just did not feel right, and I think others felt the same way because attendance at the Islander games fell significantly after it’s opening. The Islanders finally packed up and left in 1987.
    .
    I’m all for having the conveniences of the day, but I think in order for a baseball park to work, it needs to have some connection with the past. I think the Giants have found that balance at ATT.

  7. I’m with Berkman.

    There’s another reason to build a smaller park he didn’t mention, and it favors money: you can put fans nearly 50 feet closer to the action. That’s part of what makes the hypothetical Cisco Field appealing to me, that colonnade 302 feet away in right field. Those will be some great seats!

    You can charge more for those seats than you can for a seat 344 feet away down the left field line at Marlins Park.

    To me the best park design is very shallow corners that open up to a very deep CF. You want some excellent seats in the OF (I don’t think the Marlins have any, and I think Cisco will in RF, and the Giants do in RF as well), but not at the expense of triple or inside-the-park HR potential. As long as you have at least one deep area of the OF, you have that.

    Anything seat in CF feels like you’re a mile away from home plate anyway, and you’re mostly there for the value and bleacher camraderie. 400 or 420 isn’t nearly as big a deal from the fan’s view in the stands is 302 vs. 344 in a corner is. That’s why I like my CFs deep and the corners shallow.

  8. I certainly don’t need the NBA atmosphere at a baseball game, but I would much prefer a modern ballpark design. Cisco Field should represent the latest in tech and I just think that fits better with a modern design than with a bunch of retro columns, I’m thinking more bird’s nest and less brick facade.

  9. Have to point out, early reports on the parking situation at Marlins Park suggest concerns were way overblown.
    .
    (Hate to say “I told you so.” Oh wait, no I don’t.)
    .
    🙂

  10. Nostalgia in a ballpark is great, it’s just that it’s been greatly overdone by teams trying to do it the exact same way. There has to be other ways of doing nostalgia rather than cloning Camden Yards over and over.
    .
    Whether the vibe is nostalgia or forward looking, I value creativity. High marks for the Bird’s Nest in China.
    .
    I’m also a big proponent of having the ballpark reflect the city. Over-the-top, flamboyant kitsch works well for Miami; would work well for New Orleans (if it had an MLB team); maybe wouldn’t work as well for Pittsburgh or Kansas City. Not every ballpark experience needs to be the same.

  11. @bartleby – Small sample size. Many were displeased with the transit solution after being told that was the way to go. We’ll see if those people get into cars if transit doesn’t improve, and as the weather gets hotter/wetter. That could cause problems.

  12. RM, are you going to be visiting NYC ballparks? If so let me know if and when you come in town. I really like Citi Field, enjoyed my time there, affordable tickets, great sightlines, good concessions. Going to visit Yankee Stadium next month for the first time.

  13. Big is not a problem but it has some problems…
    It is ugly inside with the lime green walls and that strange stuff in CF
    And even a bigger problem could be that is was not quite full on opening day and not nearly sold out yet for game 2. If that place doesn’t sell out often this year the stadium was a waste and baseball doesn’t belong in South Florida.

  14. /// …or we shouldn’t expect sellouts to be the norm in baseball (only 30 years ago 2 million fans would be ridiculously successful, now you’re near the bottom of the league).

  15. Brian, isn’t being near the bottom of the league now just as bad as it was 30 years ago? I think it is reasonable to expect a long string of sellouts to open a new stadium. Will the Marlins will get off the revenue sharing teet this year?

  16. I’m with Berkman. I go in for the nostalgia thing as well. I didn’t realize the Marlins were going to do cheerleaders and crap like that as well. I mean their new park is obviously still an improvement over their old football stadium (Dolphin Stadium wasn’t multipurpose so much as a football stadium that was capable of being a passable crap baseball venue). That said, it strikes me as a flawed modern venue. Too much glitz (the cheerleaders, fish abuse tank, homerun sculpture from hell, neon green backdrop, etc…) and too much grass. I mean that park makes PETCO seem small, and that’s normally seen as a huge park.

  17. @ Dan – If BS told them to shorten LF to 330 do you think they would argue? BS is the final decision-maker. Make no mistake…………what BS wants, he gets. Period.

  18. “What BS wants, he gets.” I like that Columbo, I like that ;). And I totally concur (cue pjk to now provide rebuttal). Vegas bound! Now would be a good a time as ever to announce a decision; celebrating in Sin City can be quite pleasant. Probably won’t happen, but I’ll celebrate anyway! Go A’s!

  19. Tradition or not, I’m more intrigued about taking in a game at Marlins Park than some place like Miller Park. At very least, it offers an experience you can’t find around the rest of the league.

  20. Well to be fair Briggs so does Miller Park. No other park has a massive fan roof over it like Miller Park does.

    Columbo… what does that have to do with the conversation we’re all having.

  21. It’s too bad Marlins Park didn’t go with teal seats, or even orange to match their new team colors. Somehow, the blue seats they went with are more boring than the green seats you see in most other ballparks. I know green is the natural choice for Cisco Field, but it’d be kinda cool if they went with bright green, like old Comiskey Park.

  22. Briggs, one reason you don’t see bright colored seats is because they’re bright. They stand out too much and show missing fans far too well. Better to have dark color seats that hide the fact a fan or fans aren’t in attendance that night which is why all the new parks use blue, green or black seats.

  23. @Dan. I hea ya. Hopefully, the A’s won’t have trouble seeing 33k seats regularly. The Angels surpassed 25k in season tickets sales so far. By the time the A’s are playing their final season at the Coliseum, it’s scary to think how far behind the curve they’ll be.

  24. @ Dan – Absolutely nothing. It sounded good though last night after having a few drinks with the boys at my house.

  25. I prefer the “shotgun” seating colors that the Superdome uses (and the Met Center before that) where they use multiple colors in a random sequence, so it’s much harder to spot the empties.

  26. If the seat color matches the team, empty seats may not be as apparent. The Reds and Cards use red, which is the most eye-catching color to the human eye.

  27. My favorite park when it comes to seat color is Dodger Stadium. Even when it’s empty, it’s gorgeous.

  28. @fc
    Since you grew up in Hawaii, are you pulling for Kila Ka’aihue to win the 1b job?
    .
    Kila’s bio says he grew up in Kailua, and being that I spent some time at Kailua beach last year (freaking awesome beach), I think it’d be cool if Kila won the job.
    .
    As for Marlins park – looks like a very beautiful modern facility, but also looks rather cheesy. But then again, Miami is sort of a cheesy place (and I mean that in a good way).
    .
    That said, I prefer the Camden Yards type park. Or Petco Park for that matter. Modern, comfortable, with all the modern amenities, but still classic and intimate.

  29. My favorite ballparks:
    .
    AL:
    Camden Yards (O’s)
    Target Field (Twins)
    Comerica Park (Tigers)
    .
    NL:
    Petco Park (Padres)
    PNC Park (Pirates)
    Great American Ballpark (Reds)

  30. The New Yorker seems to have forgotten parks like Nationals Park, Target Field, Progressive Field and to an extent parks like Great American Ballpark and PETCO Park. None of these parks were the green steel, brick, Fenway style retro parks either. Marlins Park may be garish but it’s not alone in being non-retro.

  31. Somewhere, at 360 Architecture, there’s a treasure chest of Cisco Field images and models. Anyone want to orchestrate a break-in?

  32. I’d try getting hired as a night-time janitor.

  33. There may be a historical precedent for the grassy knoll in Houston, but I find it more ridiculous than anything I’ve seen out of the new Marlins ballpark

  34. @ J-A Mostly agree with your list, but I’d sub Wrigley for Great American. For whatever reason, Great American didn’t jazz me that much.
    .
    I must say, I’m pretty pumped to see the Marlins Park in person.

  35. More insight in this thread than from Berkman, that’s for sure. What the hell does he know about South Florida sports fans and what they’d like to see in a park (especially those who have few qualms about making the trek regularly to one of the sketchier parts of downtown to this new venue–i.e., not primarily the waspy transplant suburbanites with those “Baseball is Life” tees that he probably has in mind as his prototype for “typical fan”)? Getting tired of his self-appointed role as thoughful player/wise-old-head spokesman. STFU (IMO).

    The whole strategy of pushing the team from far out on the western fringes of suburban nowhere, to the heart of downtown Miami, was fraught with pros and cons to begin with……but all that was papered over by the, uhh, “advantages” of, uhh, “working closely with” Miami Dade politicians. And while I’m not going to hold my breath, I really hope the SEC busts Loria and his silly posse. But in any event, they’re workin’ it with this new stadium–just flat-out workin’ it. They don’t really have much choice. They need to sell that sucker out as often as possible, and I figure they know way more about their local demographic than me or Sir Lance do.

    I’m for modern setting, and functionalist presentation. I’m just tired of Camden Yards–like someone put it very well upthread, there are other ways to do nostalgia!! It’s been done! But modern and functional will never happen given the current ethos in the Lodge. The “historical” arguments are fine, and I get them. I absolutely know I’m in the minority on this; it’s just a “taste” thing, I guess. They just don’t work for me, and they just add a lot of sentmental stuff that you don’t see as much in other sports. I guess I’m just getting crankier as I get older. Just let the freakin’ game speak for itself. I got to go a few times to Fenway in the 70s, and what I most remember about those games was not the setting, but the blissfully minimalist presentation and the intimate ambiance overall. There was no music; no intrusive organist. The fans needed no instruction. Everything was CLOSE. You could see Mike Norris before the game coming out of the bullpen “bathroom” (porta-potty was more like it size-wise), and he was still putting everything back in its double-knit place, out there in the sunshine in front of God and ever-thing. No sanitized, burnished, telegenic media images here. Very old school. But those days are long over, unfortunately, even though the Lodge is still so conservative compared to other sports.

    In the early 90s I saw Bob Costas interview Don Drysdale, I think on an ESPN show…the former was sitting in for Roy Firestone on that cheesy interview show Firestone used to do. Costas tried to go all “historical” on DD, I think about the travesty of the DH, blah, blah, blah, and Drysdale would have none of it. He looked that pompous, misty-eyed smurf Costas in the eye and said, “the only tradition in baseball is sixty feet, six inches.” God bless him. Shut Costas up big-time. Cut to a commercial for some shave gel.

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