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“On Wednesday, the Marlins kiss their ballpark goodbye. Sad stuff, right? "If I was to say I'm sorry to see it go, I'd be lying -- big time," Conine said. "There are some good memories here for sure, but I won't shed a tear when we move." In baseball the goal is to be safe at home, but the Marlins are glad to be out. Next year they move into a retractable-roof ballpark built to rejuvenate a franchise long known for modest crowds and humble payrolls. Both will be bigger, the Marlins pledge, once they leave the stadium where they've played since their first season in 1993, when they moved in with the Miami Dolphins. It has gone by many names -- Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Park, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, Land Shark Stadium and now Sun Life Stadium. Often it was called a dump. "There were a lot of rain delays," former Marlin Josh Willingham said, "and no fans." Over the past 19 seasons, the Marlins discovered people dislike sitting in a football stadium to watch baseball games played in sweltering weather and interrupted by frequent showers. And so the final game Wednesday against the Washington Nationals will be cause for celebration and a chance to say good riddance.
There were a lot of rain delays and no fans.” -- Ex-Marlin Josh Willingham on Sun Life Stadium
|Sparse home crowds -- like this April 5 game this season vs. the Nationals -- have been commonplace for the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium.|
“"There is no sound like this place full with 65,000," Conine said. "You can't duplicate it anywhere else in baseball, because nowhere else could hold that many people. It was amazing." But when the Marlins failed to field a contender, which was most of the time, the majority of seats sat empty, their tangerine color louder than the crowd. This season Florida will finish last in the NL in attendance for the seventh year in a row. Turnouts of less than 5,000 were common, with so much elbow room one fan collected three foul balls by the fifth inning, then left. Cameras caught two spectators making love -- they were that comfortable with their sense of privacy in the upper deck. Visiting fans often outnumbered Marlins rooters. Usually there weren't many of either. "We'd go out there and hear crickets," Ross said. "It's funny when you start seeing fans and recognize them and know them by name." The 75,540 seats made crowds look even smaller, which is one reason the new ballpark has only 36,000 seats. It also has air conditioning and a sliding roof to eliminate South Florida's subtropical weather as a drain on attendance and players. "I am ecstatic that the Marlins are moving," said Jones, who played 121 games at Joe Robbie Etcetera Stadium. "Nothing against this place, but it's a football stadium." This week, the Marlins can stop trying to make it be a ballpark.
We'd go out there and hear crickets. It's funny when you start seeing fans and recognize them and know them by name.” -- Ex-Marlin Cody Ross on Sun Life Stadium