First visit to the Marlins Ballpark

This past weekend, a few friends and I attended our first game at the new Marlins Ballpark.  For a baseball game, which normally goes at a tortoise pace, the experience was great and the game itself had a little bit of everything: flashy plays, stolen bases, a hit batter, and a home run which activated the dreaded Red Grooms sculpture in the outfield:

Although this video was taken on a previous day, the effect is still the same.

In thrilling fashion, the Miami Marlins beat the Diamondbacks on a hit down left field by Hanley Ramirez in extra innings, giving the Fish a hard fought victory, ending with a shaving cream pie in Ramirez’ face.

I have been to several ballparks in the course of my travels.  Some good, like Wrigley Field and Fenway, others not so good.  It is tricky when it comes to ballpark design.  The stadiums that are considered a success are ones that are influenced by the urban context and infrastructure around them.  Unlike football and basketball, baseball does not have a standard field dimension which creates interesting and unique conditions.  One could make the argument that a baseball stadium should just fit into the grid of a city, rather than leveling existing blocks or laying out in the middle of suburbia.  An example of this type is a Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City which sits on sea of surface parking.  The stadium is several miles away from the downtown core,  it has no relationship to the urban context and as a result creates regulated dimensions for a sport that prides itself of on the diversity of their home fields.  Meanwhile,  Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a more positive example and the first ballpark to begin the move away from the suburbs.  That project designed by Populous (the same firm that did the Marlin’s park) is built on the city’s old rail yards, and adapts the existing infrastructure rather than knocking it all down.  There is also activity planned around the park, so after or before games people have somewhere to go rather than sit in traffic.

The new Marlins park is definitely an upgrade over Joe Robbie, Landshark, I mean Dolphin Stadium, or whatever they’re calling it these days.  Plenty of sight lines to the field itself allows you to watch the game from pretty much anywhere in the stadium.  From an urban stand point, it’s not the best situation as it buffers itself from the surrounding neighborhood thanks to parking garages and ample setbacks.  Thankfully it is not surrounded by a vast parking lot that stretches out into infinity.  Finally, I know that my friends over at TransitMiami have their opinions on getting to the ballpark, but my colleagues and I took a quick Metrorail ride down to Civic Center, jumped on a free City of Miami Trolley (they’re new by the way) and we were at the stadium relatively quickly.  Of course, there was traffic for the poor suckers that decided to drive.

I would have to give it my stamp of approval. Okay, perhaps a B+.  It still looks like “the mothership has landed” scenario in the Little Havana neighborhood, but without being too critical, good times can still be had at the Marlins Ballpark.  Enjoy the slideshow.

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The annual public international architecture ideas competition for Downtown Miami! Also architecture and urban planning events in Miami throughout the year.
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