Stadium Vote Postponed Until March

Well all expected today to be a good day for Miami and the Marlins but all hell broke loose and now the City of Miami has postponed the vote until March.

It all began when Commissioner Marc Sarnoff decided to renegotiate the entire deal during the hearing. He primarily focused on cost overruns for building a garage, the City getting a bigger share of the naming rights and penalties related to future sale of the team or death of the owner. An upset David Samson offered to cap the garage at the City’s contribution (meaning no overruns) and then said that reopening the other issues would require reopening the entire package. I guess Commissioner Sarnoff didn’t think that impacting the team’s estimated costs would upset the entire financial equation.

Commission Chair Sanchez said it best:

”What’s alarming is that I am appalled at how we have handled this,” Sanchez said, criticizing Sarnoff for attempting to re-write the deal on the day of the vote.

You can share your thoughts with Commissioner Sarnoff here

More Details on the Ballpark

A few more observations from reading the 5 agreements:

  • The ballpark capacity is about 37,000 and takes up 927,703 square feet.
  • Garages and parking lots will hold at least 5,713 cars with parking likely costing more than $10 per spot per game.
  • Construction formally begins on July 1, 2009 with first concrete pouring August 20, 2009. The ballpark will be completed on March 29, 2012.
  • The Marlins are locked for 35 years subject to terms of a Non-Relocation Agreement.
  • The City of Miami may develop an MLS soccer stadium on site (subject to many restrictions).
  • There are different seating sections: Batter’s Box Seats (behind home plate), Dugout Club Seats, Owner’s Box (12 seats within the Batter’s Box Seats), Home Plate Reserved (behind Batter’s Box Seats), Field Box Seats (behind dugouts), Club Level Seats, View Level Box Seats, and Standing Room Positions.
  • Suites will come in various sizes and features: Luxury Suites, Founder Suites, Super Suite, Party Suites, Owners Suite, Home GM Box,
  • Bleachers will be located in the Fiesta Deck in the outfield.
  • A 150 person Party Room will be located behind the outfield wall and will featured catered area with 2 tiers of seats.
  • The Field Box Seats and Dugout Club and both will have a pregame buffet, in-game food service and their own bar.
  • The main concourse near left field will feature a “Taste of Miami Food Court”.
  • The scoreboard will be HD (of course) and there will be several other ribbon boards througout the ballpark.
  • Interactive Kids’ Zone will be located in the outfield by Fiesta Seats
  • The swimming pool and “beach” will be located in the outfield.
  • Main retail store will be accessible from the outside on non-game days.
  • Player’s family can relax at a private lounge near the clubhouse.
  • A special room will be allocated, if and when needed, for female umpires.
  • The bullpens will have artificial turf.

Features and Dimensions of the New Marlins Ballpark

We’ve been looking closely at the renderings and here are our observations:

This is not a retro ballpark. It retains many of the swooping round design cues that can be found in both the American Airlines Arena and in the old renderings of the ballpark that included the Orange Bowl.

Dimensions are somewhat similar to Dolphin Stadium: 335 down the right field line, 392 in the gap, 416 leading to 420 in a Bermuda Triangle like layout in center, 384 in the left-field gap and 340 down the left-field line. Speaking of the Bermuda Triangle, the outfield walls curve rather than bend and the Triangle looks more like a sea shell then a triangle. Also, the outfield has a pool/beach area and a large animatronic marlin that will jump when the Marlins hit a home run. All the currently available renderings obscure that part of the ballpark which may also include a new version of the Teal Monster.

Right and center field have glass walls leading to green park areas and hopefully views of downtown Miami.

The roof both slides (like in Seattle) and accordions (like Houston). That means that the area outside the ballpark along the first base line will be partially covered when the roof is open. One side of this area is bound by a stretched spiral walkway which appears to have a large video screen for people outside the ballpark.

Conceptually, the ballpark has 3 seating tiers but even within tiers there are some breaks. The upper deck features several sections that are pushed back a bit to create standing room space. Also, the first group of rows along the first and third base lines seem to be separated from the rows above them. We’ve seen this in other ballparks where the premium seats are offset from the rest.

Large HD like scoreboards are located in the right field and left field gaps.

Outfield Glass Wall

There are several green areas around the ballpark and every external walkway is lined with trees. Some of the flat green areas appear to be recreation areas for the community to use during the off season (one even has a diamond and dugouts that) that can be converted to parking during the season.

Outfield Glass Wall

The site features four 4-story parking decks and several smaller surface lots.

Outfield Glass Wall

Marlins, County Reach Deal; Vote Scheduled for February 13th

The Florida Marlins have reached agreement with Miami-Dade County on 5 contracts (read them here) which were necessary to close the deal for the new ballpark. The agreements will face final approval by both the County and the City of Miami on February 13, 2009. Among the concessions made by the Marlins:

– If Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria sells the team in the seven years after the agreement has been reached, the county would almost double its share of any profits.

– The ball club’s $2.3 million a year in rent will go up by 2 percent each year.

– Extra costs due to scheduling or problems between the contractor and subcontractors will now be paid by the Marlins.

And, we get the first official renderings here and here.

Latest Ballpark D-Day: January 22, 2009

The Marlins are finalizing five agreements with the City and Country and expect all 5 to come up for final vote on January 22.

Five documents still must be agreed upon by commissioners from the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County. The vote is expected on Jan. 22. If all goes according to script, that could be the day the team’s retractable-roof park will become official.

What are these documents?

The five documents that commissioners will address are: City/parking agreement; operating agreement; construction/administration agreement; non-relocation agreement; and the assurance agreement, where all parties are bound by all agreements.

We also learned that ground breaking is scheduled for sometime between May 15 and June 15th.

If You Build a Stadium Website, It Will Come

There’s an addition to the Marlins family and it’s not a new catcher or outfielder, it’s a website for the new ballpark:

First, there are a couple of design elements that standout. The website is orange and black (kind of like the colors of Fish@Bat) and the favicon is the Marlins “M” (again, kind of like our favicon). We know that the team is changing to Miami and we also know that there will be new uniforms so this is possibly a first step.

Also, The Marlins are also trying to generate some viral buzz, asking fans to show their support by printing banners and submitting photos. Amazingly enough, though, they insist that you print the banners professionally so I’m guessing this won’t go too far. Regardless, we look forward to seeing this site grow, especially when those design renderings are finally available.

BREAKING: Judge Sides With Marlins on Ballpark Purpose

An encouraging development:

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen ruled Tuesday that building a ballpark for the Florida Marlins serves a public purpose — a significant victory for the team and local government in their quest to bring a new stadium to South Florida.

This was one of two issues left in this wasteful lawsuit. Now, the Judge is withholding ruling on the final issue until the Florida Supreme Court reviews the issue of diverting funds from their original purpose.

Update: Greg Cote gets it right.

If We Ever Get a Stadium, It Will Look Like a UFO

Fish Chunks found an interesting interview with Geoff Cheong who is part of the team designing the Marlins ballpark at HOK. Here are the key passages:

At work he has been busy helping design the exterior of the Florida Marlins’ 38,000-seat stadium.

“It’s bound to be controversial, which is not a bad thing because it gets people talking,” Cheong says. “Some people may think it looks like a spaceship, while others will see it as a piece of art. The Marlins’ owner is an art collector and he’s made it known he wants the stadium to be a ball park as well as piece of sculpture.”

Part of the expected controversy is the stadium’s location—amid a number of single-storey homes.

The building is also being designed to be environmentally friendly by adhering to the silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard. Achieving that will rest—in part—to the building’s retractable roof which will allow it to be air conditioned during the hot and humid Florida weather.

One unique feature will be the movable outfield wall which when removed will provide good views of the city’s skyline, and permit a natural flow of air across the grass field.

That’s important for the natural grass to adequately dry out, says Cheong, adding great consideration was also given to the building’s orientation so the grass could receive a daily minimum of four hours of exposure to sunlight to keep it healthy.

“It was important to have a real grass field,” Cheong says. “The players prefer it. You even get some players using that as a way deciding which team they want to play for.”

Innovative and “green” design is a new trend in downtown construction but is unfamiliar in the baseball universe. The Marlins ballpark is clearly going to be different from every ballpark built since 1990 in that it will look more like modern art (think of the Birds Nest and Aquatic Center in Beijing) rather than the nth new retro ballpark. The risk here is that you end up another Skydome — cool and space age at first, but ultimately out of date — but then again you could also end up with another US Cellular Field where retro can feel like a fake shopping center.

Note: I personally prefer modern although I always assumed some form of Art Deco or Cuban-inspired design would work well. That being said, I just want a new ballpark and a roof so the Marlins can survive and compete.

Judge Loses Control of Braman Trial

The circus surrounding the Norm Braman trial continued today when Judge Jeri Beth Cohen postponed a decision on one of the two remaining issues for at least 5 weeks. The issue in question is whether money can be reallocated for a different purpose without a referendum. The Judge wants to wait for a Florida Supreme Court reconsideration of case concerning reallocation of bond funds.

Frankly, this seems like the only real legal issue left in this case so everything else that happened is irrelevant (hence the term “circus” in this post). The issue of whether the stadium is a good public use of money is not an issue for a court to decide, that’s why we have elected officials. Now, if Braman wanted to challenge the elected official’s authority to make such decisions, that’s a legal challenge. But in this case, debating whether the Marlins will leave town without a stadium or whether they cannot afford to pay more is not an issue for the court to decide.

Anyway, Judge Cohen is scared to make a decision because she doesn’t want her ruling overturned but the end result of her decision is to give the Braman a big victory.

Breaking: Judge Orders Settlement Talks in Braman Suit

At the opening of today’s trial involving Norman Braman’s attempt to stop the Miami Megaplan (which includes the Marlin’s Ballpark), the following happened:

”At this time I am ordering all the parties back in mediation,” Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jeri Beth Cohen told a packed courtroom just before 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Her order may indicate that the parties — which had scrambled Tuesday and Wednesday to broker an agreement — may in reality be close to reaching such an accord.

This move apparently surprised the parties but is actually common in today’s busy court systems where busy Judges prefer to force sides into a settlement, especially if one is possible as is suggested above.

The proposed compromise seems to conflict with Norman Braman’s holier-than-thou arguments:

Those familiar with the proceedings said the last minute negotiations centered around an offer to build a community center next to the stadium and more public use of what will be a county-owned ballpark. But no closure was reached — at least not yet.

I think Greg Cote captured the double-standard/hypocrisy in his editorial today.

Assuming nothing changes in the next few days, the parties will meet again with the Judge on Monday.

Development Ideas Stir Around Ballpark

The Marlins ballpark plans on the Orange Bowl site still face some hurdles (a law suit, another vote) but that hasn’t stopped the city and private firms from working on new development projects around the ballpark. If these ideas materialize, it will only strengthen the notion that the ballpark is anchoring the redevelopment of the area.

Here are some of the latest developments:

  • If you haven’t seen it yet, the Orange Bowl is now completely gone (at a cost of $2,348,050)
  • Plans for an MLS stadium are on hold as the City cannot commit in time to meet deadlines. The city is reserving the right to build one on site at a future date.
  • The city is now focusing on planning and building a 6,000 spot parking garage for the ballpark.
  • The developers of Midtown Miami contacted the city to pitch redevelopment ideas for the area.
  • Ballpark construction and and management contracts should be done by the end of this month.