New park's roof to allow more day baseball

New park's roof to allow more day baseball

New park's roof to allow more day baseball
This is part of an exclusive series with team president David Samson, chronicling the progress and developments of the new retractable-roof stadium that is opening in 2012. Throughout the series, fans are encouraged to e-mail David at with their thoughts.

MIAMI -- Day baseball is expected to be a big part of the new ballpark experience for the Marlins and their fans in 2012.

The 37,000-seat building will have a retractable roof, guaranteeing all games will start on time and without weather-related interruptions. Players and fans also will enjoy the comforts of air conditioning, as opposed to stifling heat and uncertain rain patterns.

"We're going to have more afternoon games scheduled, because we're going to be able to draw 30,000 people for a day game," Marlins president David Samson said.

Along with day games on Sundays, a number of getaway-day games also will be played in the daytime. The primary reason they aren't scheduled now is because of the heat and constant threat of rain in the afternoons.

Last Thursday, for instance, the Marlins scheduled camp day for a 12:10 p.m. ET in their series finale with the Padres. The game started on time, but was delayed two hours and 29 minutes, creating an exceptionally long day.

"We had camp day, and it rained for 2 1/2 hours, and we had 50 businessmen in the ballpark," Samson said.

Afternoon games in downtown Miami in a stadium with a roof, the organization projects, will draw a high number of business people.

"People come from Miami, and they will have the ability to go to the game and get back to work," Samson said. "The ballpark won't be quite as empty."

Ideally, getaway games should be in the daytime, allowing for easier travel for the clubs.

"It is how it should be," Samson said. "But here in Florida, you can't do it, because you can't play in the afternoon. Out of 81 home games, it's not going to be that many, but it's a nice change of pace from what we've had here."

Construction on the stadium is now 76 percent completed, and all stages can be viewed via the new ballpark webcam at Already, 32,000 of the 36,000 seats have been installed. Counting 1,000 for standing room, capacity will be 37,000.

Construction of the roof, and the exterior skin that will cover it, should be completed by September. After that, the final 20 percent of work will be all indoors, with tasks including finishing up all the doors and sinks.

As for the product on the field, the organization feels it has an exciting young squad being built around players like Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and John Buck.

If not for a historically-dreadful month of June, when Florida went 5-23, the club has been competitive. The 23 losses are the most ever by the team in any month.

The team has actively been selling 81-game season-ticket plans for the new building, and it remains ahead of its sales projections.

"What people are buying are the ballpark and the realization that, while we had a bad June, the nucleus of this team is the nucleus of a championship team," Samson said. "Of course, there are always pieces that have to be moved in and out for chemistry reasons. But without June, we're pleased with the team."

Fans purchasing tickets are visiting the stadium grounds, and they have been impressed with the intimacy of small park.

"They are securing their tickets, and there still aren't partial plans available," Samson said. "We are only selling 81-game plans.

"Fans like the intimacy of the ballpark -- how small it is, and how every seat is a good seat. They actually see the roof and the air conditioning vents. Then they see, through left field and the view of downtown, how nice it is."

The ballpark is being built in the Little Havana section of Miami, and Samson says people also are realizing how quickly they can get to the stadium from where they work downtown.

"That is one thing we have to overcome, is people viewing us far away from everything," Samson said. "In reality, we are very close to everything. Our fans from Palm Beach and Broward will find out that coming to this ballpark will be easy and it will be a pleasurable experience."

Because the ballpark is in downtown Miami, the Marlins project 60-70 percent of their ticket sales to be from Miami-Dade County.

"That is up from 50 percent," Samson said. "That is normal, because a lot of people from down south couldn't make it up to Sun Life. They couldn't deal with the heat or rain. Now they don't have to."

Partial season-ticket plans are scheduled to be rolled out in September, October and November.

The Marlins have set Nov. 11 as the date to announce their name change to the Miami Marlins. The next day, they hope to have a select-a-seat event.

Recently, the organization and the builders did a walk-through to examine the height of the railings. Stadium safety is the top priority, especially in the aftermath of a fan dying this year in Texas.

"We walked the Vista Level, and we changed some of the railing heights," Samson said. "They were already higher than what was under code, but we're going to make them a little higher.

"Safety is paramount, obviously. It's the No. 1 issue we have. When it comes to pregame and postgame, safety is No. 1."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.