Heat, humidity and rain are three factors that plagued fans when they attended Marlins games at Sun Life Stadium. In April 2012, that changed as the Marlins moved into the newest ballpark in baseball. For 18 seasons the Marlins played at the multipurpose Sun Life Stadium, a stadium built primarily for the Miami Dolphins (NFL). Not only did the team have to play at a massive stadium built primarily for football, but games were often plagued by rain. These factors led the Marlins to seek a new ballpark for over a decade. Numerous ballpark sites and financial proposals were discussed but none became reality. In February 2008 the Marlins reached an agreement to build a new ballpark after City and County Commissioners approved funding for a new stadium. Originally scheduled to open in 2011, construction was delayed by a lawsuit challenging the public funding of the project. Built at a cost of $515 million, Miami-Dade County contributed to the majority of the construction costs while the City of Miami contributed $13 million and the Marlins $155 million. Located in Little Havana on the site of the former Orange Bowl (Miami Hurricanes/NCAA), construction began in July 2009.
On April 4, 2012 a new chapter began in the history of the Marlins as they played their first game against St. Louis Cardinals. The team moved from the largest stadium in baseball to the smallest as Marlins Park has a seating capacity of 37,442. Three levels of seats extend from the left field foul pole around homeplate to the right field foul pole. Two levels of seats are located above the right field fence with limited seating located behind the left field fence. Unlike the majority of MLB ballparks built, Marlins Park has a futuristic design that looks forward and breaks away from the traditional retro ballpark design. A brick facade is not found here. Instead, the facade consists of white stucco, silver metal and glass. The three panel retractable roof prevents any rain delays and opens or closes in 13 minutes. When open it sits behind the first base grandstand on the west side of the ballpark. Here, on the outside of the ballpark, is a large gathering plaza that allows fans to mingle before games.
Marlins Park has a number of unique features around the ballpark. Not only does the ballpark feature a retractable roof, but retractable outfield glass panels. Located behind left field, these panels, six combined at 240 feet long and 60 feet high, open or close in eight minutes and provide a panoramic view of the downtown Miami skyline. Behind the outfield fence in left-centerfield is one of the most unique homerun features in baseball. The colorful, $2.5 million, 75 feet tall structure features moving waves along the bottom and spins marlins, seagulls and flamingos anytime a Marlins player hits a homerun. Marlins Park will be the second ballpark in baseball to feature a pool. The Marlins teamed up with a South Beach icon, the Clevelander, to bring a party atmosphere to the ballpark. Located on the field level next to the Marlins bullpen, this private seating area will seat 240 fans, providing classic Clevelander food and entertainment next to the pool.
One of the most unique features in any ballpark is located directly behind home plate. On both sides of the backstop are twin 450 gallon saltwater aquariums containing up to 50 fish. Bulletproof glass prevents the aquariums from shattering in the event a foul ball strikes one of them. The main HD video/scoreboard is 101 feet wide by 51 feet high above the right-centerfield stands. Another 100 feet wide display within the left field wall will display scores and stats from games throughout MLB. The ballpark has many amenities including a Taste of Miami food court including three restaurants, Latin American Grill, Pap Llega Y Pon and Don Camaron.
Since it’s opening in 2011, Marlins Park has been known as a pitcher-friendly ballpark with it’s daunting outfield dimensions. However, prior to the start of the 2016 season the team altered the dimensions to make the ballpark slightly more hitter-friendly. The center-field fence was moved 11 feet closer to home plate at 407 feet and the outfield fence, previously at 11 to 13 feet high, will now be 6 to 11 feet high. Although the Marlins have won two World Series since their inception in 1993, they hope to bring World Championship baseball back to South Florida.