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Marlins working on new stadium visuals

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06/16/2008 12:56 PM ET

Marlins working on new stadium visuals

Club will meet with local officials to hammer out ideas

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com



This is part of an MLB.com/FloridaMarlins.com exclusive series with Marlins president David Samson chronicling the progress and developments of the new retractable-roof stadium that is set to open in 2011. As part of the series, which will run twice monthly, fans are encouraged to e-mail David at [email protected]. The fan who presents the best suggestion for this two-week period will receive free tickets to an upcoming Marlins game.


SEATTLE -- A vision is close to becoming a visual on the Marlins new stadium front.


Coming up on the horizon is a meeting where local leaders and team officials will get together to come up with the basic design of the 37,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark on the Orange Bowl grounds in the Little Havana section of Miami.


A meeting has been set for June 24, when representatives from the city of Miami, Miami-Dade County and the team will hammer out what the baseball-only facility will look like.


"We hope to make the final decision on the conceptual design of the stadium," Marlins president David Samson said. "Once you have the conceptual design, that's what enables us to go forward with the release of the renderings."


For months, ideas have been tossed around. Soon a definitive look of the state-of-the-art park will be drawn up.


As of now, any rough sketches that may have appeared in public over the past few years are loosely drawn-up pictures.


"We feel very happy that we can get a date," said Samson of the upcoming meeting. "This is the conceptual design of what the stadium will look like."


The team has already said the ballpark will have a modern look, and it will incorporate the personality of the Miami area, while showing recognition to the history of the Orange Bowl and Florida baseball.


Since starting this exclusive series of stadium updates with MLB.com, Samson has encouraged stadium-related e-mail suggestions from fans. Thus far, he's received about 1,000 e-mails, ranging from local to international.


"Some of them are very interesting and worth considering," Samson said. "Some of them are impossible to consider, either because they are not cost effective or because they are not realistic. But I want to thank our fans from around the world who are taking this process very seriously."


Yes, e-mails are coming in from all over.


One reader from Ireland caught Samson's attention with a request to include an Irish pub in the ballpark.


Considering that the stadium is being built in the heart of Little Havana, Samson replied: "Do Irish pubs serve Cuban coffee?"


"I didn't get a response back," Samson said.


Another reader suggested the building of a restaurant in the ballpark, similar to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, where people can enter from the street.


"I can picture a restaurant where you can enter both inside and outside the stadium," Samson said. "I don't know if that is going to happen yet. That is something that has been suggested."


The ballpark projects to be among the smallest in the big leagues, and it won't be nearly as large as the old Orange Bowl football stadium, which was demolished in recent months.


The vision is to create growth and development with shops and restaurants surrounding the new Marlins home, which is scheduled to open in 2011.


"The stadium is going to spur baseball-related development, and it's going to change Little Havana," Samson said. "It's Little Havana's turn. That whole area is going to become like a redesign area."


The project is expected to create thousands of jobs through the construction stages and after the ballpark is in operation.


Even though the ballpark will have a retractable roof, Samson says there will be plenty of areas outside for fans to gather.


"Whether that's through decks, we are not forgoing the outdoor experience, just because we have a roof," Samson said. "I envision an area outside the stadium that will be a plaza-like area. There will be pre- and postgame activities, every day, and not just on Saturdays.


"So it will be a year-round area for people to congregate and be around baseball. It will be a great area before and after games."


The reference to Saturday relates to the team's "Super Saturdays" series, where after every home game on those nights there is a concert and fireworks display. The Super Saturdays concept was initiated to make attending a game an event-like atmosphere.


The same theme is taking place with the new ballpark, to make going there more than just a three-hour baseball experience.


By developing a gathering destination, it should ease the traffic flow to and from the games since people don't all have to arrive and depart at the same time.


"In baseball, unlike a Broadway play or the opera, people can leave at different times anyway," Samson said. "That's another reason why traffic flow will be OK."


Plans also are in the works to include a merchandise store outside the stadium, while inside the park will be an area to honor the history of the sport in South Florida.


"There is certainly going to be a nod to the history of baseball in Florida and the history of the site," Samson said. "We were able to secure some of the memorabilia from the Orange Bowl, and certain things from the Marlins and baseball."


Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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