Marlins Park getting makeover before season

February 9th, 2020

MIAMI -- Marlins FanFest on Saturday provided not only a first look at the club's newcomers but also the changes at Marlins Park.

Below is a breakdown of what to expect -- from on the diamond to the east plaza -- come Opening Day on March 26 against the Phillies.

The playing surface
After hosting Super Bowl Opening Night on Jan. 27, when Marlins Park took the global stage, the Marlins got to work laying the foundation for their new playing surface.

In December, the club announced it would be switching to The B1K: Batting A Thousand by Shaw Sports Turf.

President of baseball operations Michael Hill said that when the club visited Chase Field in Arizona last September, the players got a feel for it. The D-backs introduced the synthetic surface in 2019, and the Rangers' new ballpark will use it in '20.

Marlins chief revenue officer Adam Jones added that the turf will reduce their environmental impact in terms of the irrigation of the field and climatizing the building. Getting enough natural light while also combating the humid late summer months proved to be a tough balancing act.

"The feedback we got is that it played a lot like Marlins Park," Hill said. "To have a surface that plays a lot like the old surface but not have to contend with the elements and the roof closed or the humidity as we go out for BP, I think will be a welcome change for all our guys and one that they were all pretty excited for."

Marlins Park also will be able to host more community events year-round because there will be no concerns about protecting natural grass.

"For Opening Night it was part of the bid for the Super Bowl," Jones said. "It was exciting to be part of that bid, working with the host community, letting us showcase this venue and its flexibility to the NFL stage and that world audience. ... It was a great opportunity, it was a spectacle, to showcase the flexibility of what could be done within the four walls of this building."

Moving in the fences
Fans looking out toward the field from behind home plate caught a glimpse of more than just the downtown skyline.

For the second time since the ballpark opened in 2012, the outfield walls at Marlins Park have been moved in. Center field went from 407 feet to 400 feet and right-center from 399 feet to 387 feet.

Marlins Park has been one of the toughest places to hit, with the Marlins collecting 477 home runs in Miami and 593 on the road during that span. Only the Giants (407) have homered fewer times at their home ballpark.

"I always look at the ballpark," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It's bringing it in a little bit for us, but it's bringing it in a little bit for everybody. The way the ball flew last year, it didn't matter. We'll see how the ball's flying this year. I think it makes it fair. I think that's the biggest thing.

“I look at our ballpark, and there were parts of it that seemed almost unfair to the offensive player. That's what you want -- you want it to be fair. It's still a pitcher's ballpark, it's going to be a pitcher's ballpark, but it's more fair now when you crush a ball that it's going to go."

Let there be art
The home run sculpture, which used to reside in left-center field where the AutoNation Alley is, has been reassembled and will be part of an art walk on the east plaza that is set to be activated for Opening Day.

The plan is for it to go off after every Marlins home run and win, as well as at 3:05 p.m. ET every day to represent Miami's area code. It will be controlled locally, as well as in a control room.

Other public art at the ballpark includes the Orange Bowl letters on the east plaza, the tiles on the west plaza, the garage pieces and the lights that reflect off of the roof structure. Jones hopes the art walk will create a spotlight for those, as well.

"Putting it on the exterior has now made public art public whether we're live for a Marlins event or concert," Jones said. "People will be able to enjoy it; the neighborhood will be able to enjoy it. We know that tour groups are looking at routing their buses through the neighborhood.”

Bottoms up
The Biscayne Brew Hall near the home-plate entrance on the main concourse level wasn't open to the public during FanFest, but the Marlins envision it being a pregame and postgame destination.

"Part of the feedback we've received … is give us somewhere to come early and give us somewhere to stay late," Jones said. "It'll absolutely address that, as well as be a spot during the game. We know that people like to get up and move around."

Worth noting
• According to Jones, the Marlins have a number of working concepts for the area that used to house Taste of Miami until the 2019 season. They will continue to "hold that in reserve to eventually address infrastructure need as we continue to grow a base and attendance."

• The 305 menu will return, with eight items at $3 or $5.

• Parking rates will be reset, with $15 for weekday games and $20 for weekend contests. The advance rate will be $15.

• Through the Marlins' partnership with Fanatics, there will be items ranging from T-shirts or hats for $20 or less.