The Florida Marlins’ new Little Havana ballpark is almost complete, and plans are in the works for a big housewarming next spring.
The team announced this week that the first two games to be played in their new stadium, which stands on the grounds of the old Orange Bowl, will be exhibition games against the New York Yankees on April 1st and 2nd, 2012. The first game will be a weekend afternoon one with approximately 25,000 seats available, the second a Monday evening game with about 30,000 seats.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Marlins manager Jack McKeon sees the scheduling move as a smart one: “I think it’ll be great. It’s a perfect time to bring the Yankees in for exhibition games because they always seem to draw well…It’s a great selection to play the Yankees with so many New Yorkers in that area.”
Marlins 2012 season and partial-plan ticket holders will get first crack at tickets for the series, with a limited number of additional tickets set aside for public sale in the spring of 2012.
Presently, 76 percent of the new retractable roof stadium is complete, with 32,000 of the 36,000 seats already installed. Adding in standing room tickets, the stadium will have a total capacity of 37,000 when it is finished, which should be by March of next year. Prior to the Marlins-Yanks games in April, a few still unannounced college games will open the stadium to the public.
The Marlins open their regular 2012 season on April 4 with a home game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The project is a joint venture between the Marlins and local government, with city and county funds responsible for $500 million of the construction and the team contributing about $150 million once the stadium is finished.
Attendance for Marlins games has been worrisome for years, with the team coming in at or close to the bottom of the league for crowd numbers at Sun Life Stadium, which admittedly has the largest capacity of all MLB venues. In mid-July, the team decided to close the upper deck, which had to that point only been open on weekends. Upper deck season ticket holders have been upgraded to better seats for the remainder of the season in an attempt to create a better visual effect in the stadium.