The giant structure has loomed like some kind of flying saucer hovering over Miami for more than a year now, its domed roof gleaming from afar.
And now the $634 million Marlins Park is getting ready to host its season opener in Little Havana on Wednesday, following exhibition games Sunday and Monday. Built mostly with public money, the ballpark seeks to pay homage to Miami’s sights, tastes, cultures and beauty.
We scoped out the park to find 12 features that should make fans — and even vaguely interested visitors — take note.
Enjoy it, Miami. After all, you’re paying for it.
• Popcorn, peanuts, Cracker Jacks … ceviche? In addition to ballpark staples (there will be nachos), the Taste of Miami section in the left field area of the Promenade Level features South Florida specialties from local restaurants: pan con lechon from Papo Llega y Pon, Latin American Grill’s croquetas con jamon and ceviche from Don Camaron. Outside the special Miami area, even the hot dogs — they’re called Sobe hot dogs, topped with mango slaw — represent the 305.
• You like to eat but hate waiting in line for food? Turns out there’s an app for that. Through a partnership with Major League Baseball, you can use MLB’s “At Bat” app on your smartphone to order food from one of seven concessions, pay from your seat and find out when it will be ready at the closest location. An express line for pick-up gets you to the food fast. The service starts out free, but will carry a nominal fee by June — and should gradually expand to about 20 locations inside the park.
• Here’s one place where no one will be able to keep their head on straight. The Bobblehead Museum (actually more trophy case than museum) on the Promenade Level, boasting 588 nodding dolls that represent every team in the league, is set up to keep heads at a constant bobble. A touchscreen information kiosk lets you look up your favorite player to find their spot.
• Bringing a South Beach party vibe to baseball, the Clevelander at Marlins Park transports its Ocean Drive atmosphere to left field on the Field Level. Tickets starting at $50, depending on the game, get you a seat to watch the game and access to the swimming pool. Standing-room-only tickets will also be available at the box office on game day (though not on opening day) and should eventually be sold online. Admission is free once games are over. The menu includes tater tachos — think nachos, but with tater tots — and beer-poached bratwurst.
• There are no marlins inside the tanks, but the aquariums behind home plate do have actual fish. Each 450-gallon tank is about 20 feet wide and will hold as many as 50 tropical fish. Thick fiberglass and a substance used in bulletproof windows will protect the fish from impact, the team says. “We threw baseballs at it,” said Claude Delorme, executive vice president for operations and events.
• When the team owner — Jeffrey Loria — is also an art dealer, some culture is to be expected. Outside the park, the East Plaza looks like the scene of an alphabetic explosion. The letters in “Miami Orange Bowl,” in whose footprint the ballpark was built, are strewn around as if they fell out of the sky. Miami-raised artist Daniel Arsham created the Orange Bowl tribute, as well as the illumination of columns that support the giant retractable roof. The West Plaza’s rainbow-like mosaic walkways are the work of Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez.