Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Marlins Finally Secure a New Stadium

Get ready, Miami. The Marlins are coming. Or at least they will be. 2012!

"The Florida Marlins will soon have a home of their own.

The team on Monday cleared the last political hurdle in its decade-long quest to get its own ballpark in Miami when the Miami-Dade County commission voted to approve the multi-million dollar deal.

After a marathon 9½-hour meeting, the county's 13 commissioners capped off the team's push for a retractable-roof park that is expected to cost at least $515 million. The commission by a 9-4 vote approved the stadium agreement itself.

The vote came four days after Miami city commissioners approved the stadium, which will be built near downtown in the city's Little Havana neighborhood on the site of the demolished Orange Bowl. Construction is expected to begin this summer, with the stadium opening for the 2012 season."

This decision is long overdue. The Marlins are currently playing in a stadium that houses the Miami Dolphins and has no business hosting a baseball team. It's impossible for the Marlins to convince fans to come to the ballpark when the ballpark is an absolute dump. It was a travesty that the Marlins did not have a world class facility to play in because without it, they could never gain credibility in the baseball world or from fans.

(Note: Remember all the talk of the Marlins potentially moving to Vegas a few years back if the team did not get a new stadium? Well now I think we can officially cross off that idea. Thank God.)

I think this stadium is not only good for the Marlins, but in the end it will be good for Miami as well. Obviously, agreeing to build a stadium with taxpayer money is not going to be a popular move right now given how poor our economy is. But the fact remains that stadiums can be huge source of revenue not only for the team, but for the surrounding community and local businesses. If they build the stadium correctly, this project in Miami could be very successful.

But a bigger question remains: will people actually show up to games?

The Marlins have been notorious for drawing terribly small crowds to their home games. At times, it makes you wonder if there are even Marlins fans. I swear, my little league games drew crowds comparable to some Marlins games in late September...ok, slight exaggeration. But will the good people of Florida, especially in Miami, show up at the ballpark? For the Marlins sake, let's hope so.

And if people do show up, the Marlins might just become a completely different organization. With the increased revenue from ticket sales, perhaps the Marlins could become active players on the free agent and maybe, just maybe, have a payroll that does not rank in the bottom of the MLB year after year. I'm sure there are plenty of ballplayers who would love the opportunity to play in the warmth of Florida especially in a new stadium, but Marlins ownership needs to make a strong commitment to the franchise and actually spend money on players for once.

As for the soon to be Miami Marlins, the name actually doesn't sound bad. Will they create a new logo? I absolutely think that should be in order...

Only three more years, Miami...get pumped!

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