Tagged: Florida Marlins

Some Thoughts on Sun Life Stadium

For some strange reason, I forced myself to take on the task of writing a guide for Sun Life Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins. Why, I don’t know; the team will be moving into its shiny new retractable roof dome in 2012, and the guide is going to become obsolete before I can even get photos for it.


But here’s some excerpts from the intro, anyway, so that it doesn’t completely go to waste:

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While
attending a Marlins game at Sun Life Stadium, it’s probably natural for fans of
the Fish to be frequently overcome with that feeling that “I’m in the wrong
place”. That feeling will probably last until the Marlins new ballpark opens in
2012.

Not only was
Joe Robbie / Pro Player / Dolphins / Land Shark / Dolphin again / Sun Life
Stadium constructed and currently maintained with the Miami Dolphins and the
NFL firmly in mind, the place never lets the occupying MLB Marlins and their
fans forget it. Other than late Dolphins owner Joe Robbie’s foresight in having
his new stadium built with the capability to accommodate baseball, the local
baseball team that has racked up two championships playing here (to the
football team’s big fat zero) is largely regarded as a nuisance.

That’s some
thanks to a team that has somehow managed two World Series victories in its
brief existence, and all without the benefit of division titles. Has any team
in any major sport pulled off that particular feat? You’d think the Dolphins
would show a little more gratitude. At least one team in Miami wins.

Still, it’s
not hard to see why the Marlins have more struggles at the gate than most
teams.

To start
with, there is the venue itself, with its constant reminders that you are here
to watch football games, not baseball. The angle of the seats, availability of
concessions and lack of nearby, well, anything are all big strikes against the
place. For eight football games a year, these things don’t matter so much.

Then there is
the oppressive weather in South Florida, where
85-degree July and August nights and near daily thundershowers are the norm.
Sun Life Stadium is no help in this regard, with blisteringly hot orange
colored seats and precious little covering or shade for most of them.

And finally
there is still the lingering discord over the “fire sales” following the team’s
championships, where an overreaching owner let the team’s biggest stars go
following a World Series title, a sure way to kill the excitement of local
baseball and alienate plenty of fans. The heat of Miami is no place to spend time getting to
know a completely new group of players.

But being a
Marlins fan, at least for now, requires a special kind of fortitude. And a
guide to make the best of it.

To their
credit, the Marlins have made the best of the situation. They’ve been offering
fans more deals than most other teams. They’ve created an outfield wall that is
actually asymmetrical, without fudging it as many parks do these days. There’s
plenty of extracurricular entertainment, like the SportsTown tent outside the
Stadium, a hot tub near the Marlins’ bullpen, and multiple fan zones where kids
can burn some energy.

And while
baseball isn’t necessarily a cheerleader sport, no one here is complaining
about the Marlins’ Mermaids, who dance for the fans in scant teal and green
outfits between innings. I’ve read that they’re rejects from the Dolphins
cheerleading squad, in which case I need to see the winners.

And the
Marlins are a good team. So it’s not
all bad.

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Sun Life Arepas–Well, It’s Something

Sun Life Stadium in Miami is widely regarded as Major League Baseball’s worst venue for several reasons.

 

First and foremost, it’s undoubtedly a football stadium that gets a baseball field shoehorned into it in the summer. And despite that the Marlins have won two championships while playing their home games there, people walk in and around the stadium and see nothing but Dolphins, Dolphins, Dolphins–a team that hasn’t even appeared in a Super Bowl since moving into the new digs in 1986.

 

It’s also an enclosed stadium with no outside view…not that there’s anything worth seeing in Opa-Locka. The stadium is in a Miami suburb with no restaurants, nightlife or public transportation to the city. Very little public transportation at all, for that matter. You pay the stadium’s parking prices or don’t come to the game.

 

Worst of all, there’s few experiences like being outside on a humid summer evening in south Florida. Except for maybe sitting through a hurricane.

 

So unless you’re a hardcore Marlins fan, Sun Life doesn’t offer much in the way of the baseball experience. PNC Park it is not. Heck, it isn’t even Tropicana Field–at least at the Trop you escape the heat and thunderstorms.

 

But Sun Life does have something no other park I’ve researched has–arepas.

 

For the uninitiated, an arepa is something like a grilled cheese sandwich, except with cornbread. The cornbread is made from a mixture of kernel corn and arepa corn flour. Then the two hunks of cornbread sandwich a glob of mozzarella cheese. Think of it as a Latin hot pocket. I haven’t tried one, but given my affection for both cornbread and grilled cheese sandwiches, I can’t imagine not liking this.

 

Word in baseball is the arepa was a good part of the reason for star Marlin Miguel Cabrera’s noticeable weight gain. To listen to the blogs, he put on 40-plus pounds of cornbread and cheese.

 

Arepas are a South American cuisine, so they’re more popular in south Florida’s Latin population, but they can be found in most cities if one looks around a little bit. And truthfully, they aren’t hard to make either. The Sun Life Stadium Arepa recipe is available at many places on the web, which probably isn’t a good thing for the venue. They’re gonna need some better reasons than a suntan for people to come out for Marlins games.

 

All the same, at least when you’re in the sweltering heat of a nearly empty stadium that brags about a football team that hasn’t won since the Nixon administration, you can have a cornbread and melted cheese sandwich. If the Marlins start winning, that should be good enough.