Sunday, April 8, 2012

Marlins lovely ballpark a transportation nightmare

I’m not worried at all about the New York Yankees 0-2 start. But truthfully, I’m not worried about much at all since I just got back from a very relaxing vacation of fun and sun in Miami that, of course, started with some baseball.

I went down to Miami to see the Yankees play the Marlins at their sparkling new stadium. It was an exhibition game so I was not invested in the outcome, which made it easy for me to enjoy the surroundings and take frequent walks around the ballpark. I was very curious to see the new ballpark after having been given a behind-the-scenes tour back in October with fellow environmental journalists (the Marlins are selling their park as environmentally-friendly and sustainable).

I got a surprising thrill when the retractable roof opened about 15 minutes before the game started. On our tour, we were told that the decision to open or close the roof would be made three hours before game time and when I arrived the roof was closed. But the outside temperature were rather comfortable for southern Florida with no precipitation in the hour before the game so the roof was opened, rather quickly I might add, leading to a loud cheer from the fans (here's a photo of the retractable roof retracting).

I had purchased an upper-deck ticket over left field and enjoyed the view from that vantage point. The left fielder disappeared from sight on plays hugging the third-base line, but other than that the sight lines are excellent from the upper level (I also took a walk to the right-field side to check the view during a lull in the baseball action). I settled into nice conversations with several nearby fans, most of which were Yankees fans, but also a nice couple from Denver on vacation in Miami who encouraged me to visit their fair city and ballpark.

My biggest complaint about the stadium is the transportation situation. I took a $35 cab ride from South Beach to the ballpark, costly due to the rush-hour traffic. But at the end of the game, there was an absurdly long line at the taxi stand due to a mystifying absence of taxis. I finally had to take the shuttle bus, which I almost was not allowed to get on due to a lack of exact change, to the Metrorail. I would have had to take another bus after taking the train two stops, but fortunately there was a single cab waiting as we exited the Metrorail station. My New York instincts took over as I ran to grab the cab before anyone else could steal it so mercifully my trip back to South Beach took only another 15 minutes from that point. But if the Marlins really want to ensure that people visit their beautiful ballpark, they are going to have to figure out how to make it easier to get to and from the stadium.

But my time inside the new Marlins ballpark was lots of fun, capped off by a Yankees victory and the fact that Phil Hughes, in his final tune-up before the regular season, pitched pretty well. Not that it matters. 

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