Every day that passes, the future home of the Florida Marlins is another day closer to being the home of the Miami Marlins.
President David Samson, executive vice president for stadium development Claude Delorme and construction manager Sid Perkins took the media on a nearly two-hour hard-hat tour of the Little Havana ballpark Wednesday morning.
With less than seven months remaining until Opening Day 2012 — April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals — the stadium, which officially is located at 501 Marlins Way and Samson said should become the “Gem of Baseball,” is 80 percent complete.
“And we’re not resting until 35,000 fans are here every single night,” Samson said, adding that the project remains on time and “not $1 over” its $550 million budget.
Roughly 33,500 of the 36,000 stadium’s seats have been installed — 1,000 standing-room-only tickets also will be available — and Samson said he and Delorme have sat in every seat to make sure each one has an unobstructed view of the game and video boards.
More than 95 percent of the interior walls have been constructed, and the crew is “starting to focus [its] attention on all the [white membrane] plaster — the last piece of the exterior finishes,” which should be completed by mid-November.
Delorme said the team anticipates laying sod for the field in the second or third week of January, a process that will take four days. The Marlins’ office staff is expected to move into the stadium in mid-March.
Samson made special mention of the Marlins ensuring the stadium railings are well-above code — to accommodate “Mike Stanton-sized” fans — in light of a Texas Rangers fan falling over a railing while trying to catch a ball earlier this season. International code for railings is 26 inches high, but the lowest ones at New Marlins Ballpark will be 34 inches high. Those at the end of aisles are 42 inches and others, depending on the section, go up to 54 inches.
“The railings are safe as long as fans realize that a foul ball is never worth your safety,” Samson said. “I promise that if you miss a foul ball because you don't lean over enough, we'll get you a foul ball.”
The air conditioning is currently operational in specific areas of the ballpark, including the clubhouses and kitchens. Delorme said the stadium’s climate-controlled temperature when the retractable roof is closed would be about 75 degrees.
Samson said he expects the roof to be closed for 85-90 percent of home games, because of rain, heat and humidity. It will take about three hours to fully control the facility’s conditions.
Samson said the Diamond Club is sold out, while 26 out of 152 seats remain the Dugout Clubs. Partial-season, 41-game plans also went on sale for new customers Wednesday, which can be purchased online at marlins.com or by calling 1-877-411-2012.
After Wednesday, the Marlins have only six games remaining at Sun Life Stadium.
ODD AND ENDS
Stanton, day-to-day with right hamstring tightness, ran sprints in shallow right field and jogged along the warning track before Wednesday’s game. Manager Jack McKeon said he expects Stanton back in the lineup Friday.
Outfielder Mike Cameron, also dealing with a hamstring injury, was given the day off. Said McKeon: “His leg is bothering him, and it has been. He’s done a remarkable job. He plays hurt. He’s a gamer. He’s a pro. But I’m going to give him a breather.”
Top position prospect Matt Dominguez made his first major-league start Wednesday, batting seventh and playing left field. He was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter Tuesday. “Good baptism,” McKeon joked.
The Phillies’ protest of a fan interference call in Sunday’s 5-4 extra-innings loss to the Marlins was denied, Major League Baseball announced Wednesday.
Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Bryan Petersen, cf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Matt Dominguez, 3b; 8. Donnie Murphy, 3b; 9. Brad Hand, p
Mets: 1. Jose Reyes, ss; 2. Ruben Tejada, 2b; 3. Lucas Duda, rf; 4. David Wright, 3b; 5. Angel Pagan, cf; 6. Jason Bay, lf; 7. Nick Evans, 1b; 8. Mike Nickeas, c; 9. R.A. Dickey, p.
-- Matt Forman