The Florida Marlins, now renamed the Miami Marlins, have called Sun Life Stadium, the home of the
Miami Dolphins, their home as well since the franchise’s inception in the early 90s. That stadium was
too big, not configured well, and plans for a replacement ballpark were kicked around for years and
years. It was only after the Miami Hurricanes announced that they were leaving the Orange Bowl that it
was decided that this would be site of replacement ballpark. The controversy did not end.. the public
sector ponied up a huge portion of the construction cost. There were lawsuits, split votes from decision
making bodies, a recall election, and even a SEC investigation. But they ballpark was funded and built,
and in April of 2012, the Miami Marlins opened up the newest chapter of their history at the aptly named
Getting to the venue
The old Orange Bowl site is about a mile and a half or so west of downtown Miami, shoe horned into a
very Latino neighborhood community. SR 836 is the expressway that bisect the area to the north and is
the easiest way to get to the ballpark. There are four parking garages and six surface lots directly
adjacent to the ballpark, and fans are encouraged to prepay for parking by buying a pass online at the
team’s web site. Plenty of surface lots in the neighborhood offer parking anywhere from $5-$20. Public
transportation is available via Tri Rail the local commuter rail which transfers onto the Metrorail. Exit the
civic Center Station and catch the complimentary trolley or hoof it (.9 miles).
Outside the venue
The neighborhood around the Orange Bowl has always been maligned as being to gritty and unsafe. It
is not the best of areas and dining options and stuff to do are not plentiful. But there is a nice entrance
plaza outside the ballpark, a couple of bistros and cafes are built right into the stadium, and the team
also offers pregame entertainment and things for kids to do so this is not a bad place to come early,
soak in the sun and people watch. Also worth seeing is an expansive sculpture outside the outfield
entrance, which used piece of the marquee from the old Orange Bowl. Fans can walk amidst the giant
letters and create their own anagrams.
The best way to describe the design of this ballpark is “contemporary”. The template of “retro” is clearly
dead. There is no brickwork, no exposed steel, no Kelly green seats. The design soaks in the adjacent
Little Havana neighborhood in terms of its art, its pastel colors, its glass, its feel of sunshine and
beaches and palm trees and everything that is Florida. There are sweeping white curves everywhere;
the giant trusses which shoot out over the plaza and support the retractable roof are imposing and
The concourses offer many splashes of color which change as one traverses around the venue. The
lighting, tile walks and tile flooring change from red to blue to yellow and other colors. There are wide
open plazas and a view of the field and places where fans are encouraged to walk around, experience
the venue and enjoy the attractions, exhibits and places to buy food. The Bobblehead Museum,. And
the Orange Bowl exhibits are must sees on the first visit here and both are on the Promenade Level
With standing room added in, this ballpark can hold a bit over 37,000 fans. The two deck seating bowl
has a great view of the Miami skyline through the glass wall which dominates the left and left
centerfield wall. The thing that dominates the centerfield wall is something called a “Home Run
Feature”, which can only be described as a colorful but garish looking piece of sculpture which has
fish, palm trees and other moving parts, and lights up for home runs. The main HD video board hangs
in right centerfield above a smallish outfield seating porch.
The first odd thing one will notice is that the video screens at each concession stand flashes the menu
in English and then in Spanish. Head to a food court called “A Taste of Miami” and that’s where you will
find the local fare with a Latino and Cuban theme to it. The entire area has the feel of an urban market.
The other standouts are the Burger 305 stands which offer an amazing shrimp burger. The Metro Grill
features a lobster roll ($17!), Even the hot dogs can be ordered with mango cole slaw and chipotle
mayo. There are fish tacos and Cuban sandwiches, and one can also order a bottomless soda and a
bottomless popcorn bowl. The food menu is diverse, pretty incredible and pretty tasty.
The Vista Level offers club seating with its premium bar areas and most of the suites on this level are
named after Marlins greats. The area is not as opulent and overstated as some club area in peer
venues. Behind home is the Diamond Club, offering access to a very exclusive lounge and offering an
inclusive dining, dessert and beverage menu. Then there is The Clevelander. This in the ballpark
nightclub is located at ground level on the left field side, has a swimming pool, bleacher seating, a
swank bar, and requires a separate admission fee while the game is being played. Admittance is
restricted to fans 21 years of age and older.
The Marlins have won two World Championships – 1997 and 2003, and those banners are on display
in the seating bowl.
Home runs…hits.. errors
Home run… to the Bobblehead Museum, a unique attraction containing over 500 bobbleheads from all
over the baseball universe. This unique feature is a real people magnet.
Home run… For also remembering the history of the Orange Bowl with a very nice and comprehensive
display and historical timeline.
Error… to the print your own kiosks to obtain game tickets which did not work and are difficult to
operate. That required a trip to the one available ticket window. The line was long and the guy working
behind the counter? Well, let’s just say English was his second language.
Hit.. to the well designed parking ramps which have a total art deco feel and look nothing like ramps.
Lots of empty retail shops along the main floor of these structures await new tenants.
Hit… to the very nice and very colorful mosaic sidewalks running throughout the exterior of the ballpark.
Color and more color everywhere.
Error… that thing in centerfield.
Error… to Jeffrey Loria, the execrable owner of the Marlins who snookered this community into ponying
up what will be billions to put up this playpen, and is already having a fire sale for his shoddy on field
Hit: To fellow ballpark chaser Steve Fekete for joining up with us on this official USRT adventure
The game day presentation is superb, the food delectable, the seating bowl intimate and fan friendly,
the ballpark a marvel to walk around and experience. And Miami is, well, Miami, a fabulous tourist
destination for people seeking fun in the sun. Marlins Ballpark is a must visit and, thankfully, will signal
the death knell of the “cookie cutter” red brick ballparks which everyone was ga ga over through the
1990s and early 2000s. It is a shame that the team ownership has bailed on fielding a competitive
team on the field. That is already costing dearly at the turnstiles.
Food and team store 9
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Fan Support 2
Location and neighborhood 5
Banners and history 7.5
In game entertainment 8
Concourses/fan comfort 7.5
Bonus: Bobblehead museum 1, Orange Bowl display 1, Taste of Miami 1