Derek Jeter and the Miami Marlins ownership regime appear set to make their mark at Marlins Park in 2019, as a number of ballpark upgrades are in the works. Some, such as the addition of a new social space and a renovated club, will result in physical changes, while others will see the Marlins undertake new initiatives to create a more unique fan experience.
The first season for the Marlins under their new Jeter-backed ownership was a struggle. After trading several star players, the Marlins lost a National League-high 98 games and barely drew 10,000 fans a game. Given the scope of their ongoing rebuilding project, the on-field results might not change significantly in 2019, but the Marlins are at least prepared to revamp the fan experience at Marlins Park.
The most noticeable change to Marlins Park will take place beyond the left-centerfield wall, where Homer—the colorful home run sculpture by artist Red Grooms—has been dismantled to make way for a new multi-level social space. Homer will not leave Marlins Park completely, however, as the sculpture will be displayed on a new art walk planned outside the ballpark.
It was known that Jeter wanted the sculpture removed from Marlins Park before last season, but Miami-Dade County—which owns the sculpture—had difficulty coming up with a solution. Grooms could disavow the work if it is moved without his consent, effectively devaluing it, so the sculpture stayed put for 2018. With a new concept that called for relocating the sculpture outside the ballpark to make way for a new social space, however, the Marlins were able to get approval for their plan last month. The new social space will be installed prior to the 2019 season, with Homer to eventually be reassembled at its new location outside the ballpark.
That will not be the only change at Marlins Park next season, as the Marlins announced last week plans for The Club presented by DEX Imaging. Formerly the Diamond Club, the redesigned lounge space will feature revamped food and beverage options, with a new entertainment experience that includes a DJ. In addition, the area will offer a new corridor to home plate seating as well as a redesigned entrance.
“As we make Marlins Park the go-to destination for a first-class entertainment experience, we begin with The Club presented by DEX Imaging, which will provide guests a first-class, premium experience,” Chip Bowers, Marlins President of Business Operations, said in a press statement. “After listening to fans throughout last season, this enhancement is part of our ongoing commitment to exceed expectations and elevate the fan experience at Marlins Park, with a fresh Miami vibe in a unique setting.”
Those are the biggest physical changes on tap for 2019, but the Marlins are also planning some new promotional elements for next season as well. Several new offerings are lined up for weekend home games, including Little Havana Nights on Friday, Park Before Dark—featuring a postgame concert—on Saturday, and a family-oriented Sunday Funday (it includes Kids Run the Bases after the game). Furthermore, there is the Comunidad 305—an area where fans will be encouraged to bring musical instruments, flags, and more.
After a year in which the Marlins did little to change the fan experience at Marlins Park, the 2019 season appears to be one in which the Jeter-led regime will start making its mark at the ballpark. Time will tell how quickly the Marlins field a competitive team, but if nothing else next season should be marked by some notable ballpark upgrades.
Rendering courtesy Miami Marlins.
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