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Jeter Finally Wins in Miami: Grooms Sculpture Booted from Ballpark

Red Grooms sculpture, Marlins Park

The Miami Marlins may have led the National League in losses and barely drew 10,000 fans a game, but Derek Jeter can declare a win in his efforts to rid Marlins Park of the left-field Red Grooms sculpture, as it’s being moved outside the ballpark.

“Homer” was commissioned by Miami-Dade County for $2.5 million in a deal overseen by former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria when the ballpark opened. Since his ownership group took control of the Marlins, Jeter has sought the sculpture’s removal. The kinetic sculpture comes to life after a Marlins homer, with rotating marlins entertaining fans. It’s the sort of thing that you either love or hate.

Since it was a county-owned piece of art, there were limits placed on what could be done with the sculpture, as county officials debated whether to move it totally out of the ballpark area or just at another spot at Marlins Park. Grooms opposed its move, saying it’s a site-specific piece of art that is not weatherized for the hot Miami sun and heavy rains. If it’s moved, Grooms has the right to remove his name from the sculpture, dramatically diminishing its worth.

Jeter received some criticism when he argued for the sculpture’s removal without having a clear vision for what to do with and no announced plans for what would be installed in the space. But now that county and team officials have come up with a clear vision for its removal. The sculpture will be relocated to a new art walk outside the ballpark, becoming the sort of selfie spot that is all the rage in modern sports facilities. In its place: a new multilevel standing-room-only section featuring plenty of bars, food and mingling areas: a social space we’re seeing at every new and renovated ballpark. This plan was approved by the Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places board, giving the Marlins permission to move forward with their plan, which will allow the new social space to open for the 2018 season.

Homer rendering Miami

It’s certainly not the worst idea: if Jeter and crew had come up with this plan in the first place, it could have sold as a win-win for all: fans could get better access to a notable Red Grooms piece of art and also benefit from a trendy social space in one of the desirable spots in the ballpark. The Marlins ownership is still figuring out how to sell their moves to a jaded fan base, but this move actually makes a lot of sense.

Image and rendering courtesy Miami Marlins.

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