FIU fans will feast with fishes in new Marlins Park tonight

(Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

Marlins Park has gone through final preparations to host an exhibition game against FIU. (Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

(Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

By Eduardo Almaguer/Staff Writer
When FIU fans travel to Marlins Park tonight to watch the Panthers take on the Miami Marlins, they’ll be greeted by a slew of things they are not used to seeing at the FIU Baseball Stadium.
They will see a towering centerfield home run sculpture with marlins, seagulls and flamingos attached to it. They will notice an entire swimming pool behind the left field fence.
They will tilt their heads up and notice that the stadium has a retractable roof, and when they turn toward home plate, they will notice the massive aquarium lining the back wall.
And, hopefully, they will take notice of the Panthers taking the field against a major league ball club for the first time in school history.
Marlins Park, as it is tentatively named while until it gets a sponsor, is being called the jewel of South Florida. Built on the site of the Orange Bowl, the $515 million stadium is the newest park in Major League Baseball and is providing South Floridians with much needed amenities that SunLife stadium, the Marlins former home, lacked.
Most notably would be the retractable roof. Though the Marlins were in the middle of the pack in rainouts experienced in the last decade (10), the heat is what may have irritated many fans. Sunday games at 1 p.m. would serve as blistering saunas under the Miami sun.
Karl Ebert, manager of event services for the Marlins, wants to ensure that the stadium accommodates fans as best as possible.
“Our fans are our number one concern,” said Ebert. “We want this to be a comfortable environment with a constant 75 degrees on the field.”
Ebert noted that the FIU game would have the roof open, weather permitting. Fans will have the entire promenade level open, which spans from foul pole to foul pole, and is the closest one could sit to the field.
Upon sitting down, the centerfield home run sculpture will undoubtedly draw stares from the possible 15,000 fans in attendance.
The 74-foot, $2.5 million structure was designed by Red Grooms, an American pop artist born in 1937.
“It’s incredibly hard to miss,” Ebert said. It explodes with lasers, sounds, water and movement with every Marlin homerun and has been subject to much criticism.
The sculpture, however, will not activate for any homerun tonight. The Marlins plan to trigger it on April 1 against the Yankees if any Marlin hits a home run.
Marlins slugger Mike Stanton (who will now be announced as Giancarlo Stanton) joked that if the fans don’t like it he would stop hitting home runs.
Ebert pointed out that Marlins Park would offer a wider selection of food than the regular ballpark fare that SunLife Stadium had.

(Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

“There will be a Mexican stand, a Cuban stand and a kosher food stand,” Ebert said.

All three will be open tonight. Ebert said the Marlins partnered with three local restaurants, Don Camaron, Papa Llego y Pon and Latin American Grill, to serve limited menu items to fans.

There will be a Clevelander, a spin off of a party destination of the same name in South Beach, in the stadium as well, though it will not be open tonight.

Marlins Park will also be the first to feature an entire aquarium right behind home plate that is teeming with tropical saltwater fish. The two tanks have two layers of thick glass and are filled with 450 gallons of saltwater.

Another first for the ballpark will be a bobblehead museum. The Marlins purchased about 5,000 bobbleheads of everyone, ranging from movie star Jack Nicholson to Philadelphia Phillies legend Mike Schmidt.

“They’ll be on a constant rotation, showing about 700-800 bobbleheads at a time,” Ebert said.

Ebert said that his favorite part of the ballpark was the view of the downtown skyline you get when looking through the glass over left field.

“Anywhere you are in the stadium, you’ll be able to see the city,” Ebert said. “It’s breathtaking.” Miami’s newest toy will have its major league debut on April 4 when the Marlins take on defending World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals.

Despite the mixed reviews for some of the features that the park has, Ebert was sure about one thing. “This stadium screams Miami baseball.”

(Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

(Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

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