Marlins Park fence renovation underway

Finished product set to debut on April 1 in exhibition vs. Yankees

January 25th, 2016

MIAMI -- The nearly 75-foot-tall colorful home run sculpture at Marlins Park promises to be more active in 2016.

Construction is underway to move in and lower the fences in Miami, and the organization is hopeful that will translate into more home runs and overall run production for a team that has struggled in the power department the past few years.

"Everybody loves to see home runs," said Claude Delorme, the Marlins' executive vice president of operations and events. "This should give them the opportunity to see that."

On Monday, Delorme took South Florida media members on a tour of the retractable-roof building, offering a close-up of the outfield renovations.

Marlins Park opened in 2012, and from Day 1, it was evident how tough it was to hit home runs in the ballpark that is at sea level. For years, players grumbled about how big the park played.

"We were getting a lot of feedback from both players and some fans, about why to bring them in and get more offense," Delorme said. "We figured this was worth pursuing."

The renovation is estimated at $500,000, and much of the construction should be completed in time for Marlins FanFest on Feb. 20.

The first time the fences will be used in a game will be April 1, when the Marlins play host to the Yankees in the first of two exhibitions. Opening Day is scheduled for April 5 at home against the Tigers.

Marlins' 2016 schedule

Miami is the latest team in a relatively new ballpark to alter its fences. The Mets have done it a couple of times at Citi Field, and in 2013, both Seattle and San Diego made changes.

"From year one, we started hearing the feedback," Delorme said. "We wanted to absorb it. We wanted to study it, as well. We looked at roof open, roof closed, was there a difference? Honestly, to this day, it's been extremely difficult. It really depends where the wind is coming from."

One thing that you can't dispute is the numbers. The Marlins ranked 28th of 30 teams in 2015 in home runs at home with 53, with two of those being inside-the-park shots. They were also last in the Majors in doubles at home with 110.

After each homer by a Marlin, the home run sculpture lights up, with water splashing as mechanical marlins spin. The feature didn't get a lot of use. Overall, there were 111 home runs total in Miami last year. Only AT&T Park in San Francisco had fewer (109).

Even with the changes, Marlins Park is expected to play more as a pitcher's park. But the changes should increase overall scoring.

Since 2012, the walls in Miami were set from 344 feet down the line in left to 386 in left-center, 418 in dead center, 392 in right-center and 335 down the line in right.

The height of the walls ranged from 11 1/2 to 13 feet.

The dimensions will stay the same down the lines and in the gaps, but in center field, the wall is moving in to 407 feet, and it will be 7 feet high.

A structure that is not being impacted is the out-of-town scoreboard, which extends from the 386-foot marker in left-center to the base of the home run sculpture. That stretch of wall is 100 feet, and it will remain 11 1/2 feet tall.

The fences, however, will be lowered in left and right field from 11 1/2 feet to 7 feet.

Lowering the fences should create more home runs, but it also offers an opportunity for a corner outfielder to rob a drive that would otherwise be gone.

"The basic message from our players was, 'Hey, we want to make this more exciting,'" Delorme said. "There's not really a more exciting moment in baseball than when you're reaching back, running toward the fence and stealing a home run by jumping above the fence. They will have an opportunity to do that both in left field and right field."