The Florida Marlins are an American Major League Baseball Team based in Florida. The team was founded in 1993, and has played at the Dolphin Stadium since the team was established. Nicknamed ‘The Fish’ or ‘The Boys in Teal’, their logo is a distinctive symbol of Florida.
They are the only team in history to have a perfect playoff record. They are also the only team in the history of the Major Baseball League to have gone into the World Series as Wild Card entrants, and then gone on to win it.
This is a feat the Marlins have achieved twice. The team’s name reflects the enormous fishing heritage of the area. The ground is shared with the American Football team the Miami Dolphins.
The Origins of the Miami Marlins
The early history of the team is closely linked with that of the Miami Dolphins. When the Dolphins’ ground was built, the field was made considerably wider than is usual for an American Football pitch. This foresight meant that the eventual conversion of the ground to accommodate Baseball was not particularly expensive.
Wayne Huizenga, of the Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation, owned half the stadium and a 15% share of the Miami Dolphins by 1991. He put forward the money for the renovation, and went on to buy the team and the stadium in 1994.
The Early Years of Play
Fredi Gonzales was the first Minor League manager of the Miami Marlins. A year later, he stepped down in favour of Rene Lachemann. A former player, Lachemann came from managing the Seattle Mariners and the Milwaukee Brewers.
The first inaugural game in Spring Training was a huge success, with the Marlins beating the Houston Astros 12-8. The first official league win came on April 5th 1993 when they beat the Dodgers, with Jeff Conine winning the support of the home crowd with an impressive batting performance.
The team finished the season second from bottom, but it remained a massive financial success. The attendance was a record 3,064,847 for the whole season.
The following season did not go well for the team nor the sport as a whole. A strike meant that the season was called short, and the Marlins finished bottom of their division. The 1996 season saw Lachemann replaced by John Boles, the former director of play. The team fared slightly better under Boles, although he was only to stay in office for 18 months. The Marlins eventually finished third.
1997 – World Series Success
Jim Leyland was signed as club manager, coming from the successful Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition to this move, Huizenga invested more cash in the team by making several high-profile signings. This included third baseman Bobby Bonilla, the pitcher Alex Fernandez and outfielder Moises Alou.
The team surpassed all the expectations that had been laid upon the new players. With the help of star batter, Kevin Brown, the Marlins finished nine games behind the champions, the Atlanta Braves. Their overall league performance earned them a wild card into the play-offs.
The new-bloods, Luis Casteillo and Edgar Renteria, worked well with the veteran players. They beat the San Franciso Giants, followed by the Atlanta Braves and these impressive wins put them in good stead for the World Series. They played the Cleveland Indians, whom they beat over seven games, giving them their first World Series Title.
The Following Decade
The glory of 1997 could not be sustained. Huizenga, in a bid to reclaim some much needed revenue, sold off many of the team’s leading players. Instead of compensating for the waning crowds, this extenuated the problem although there were some positive moves, such as the recruiting of young players Derek Lee and P A J Burnett.
David Dombrowski was recruited as President and General Manager in 1999 but the task of regaining the fan’s confidence was too great. The Marlins suffered another poor season which prompted further administrative reshuffling.
The team regained some face in 2002, finishing with 79 wins to 83 losses. It was their second best season in the club’s history, but sadly it was another season in which they lost more games than they won.
Legal problems within the management used up more of the club’s already scarce funds. Despite this setback, the Marlins managed to secure their second World Series Title in 2003. The season started slowly for them but a surprise comeback against the Chicago Cubs in October saw their season turned around.
The Marlins conquered the favourites, the New York Yankees, at the Yankees’ ground in seven games. This win meant that Jack McKeon was crowned the oldest manager to win a World Series.
The Future: The Miami Marlins
The past few seasons have seen a steady decline in the number of spectators. In 2005, attendance was a respectable 1.8 million. This dipped to 1.2 million in 2006 and almost reached 1.4 million in 2007. This can be put down to negligence on the part of the ownership of the club.
There is also growing concern about the venue, which is seen by many to hold the team itself back from reaching greater heights. After years of threats to remove their financial backing, the owners of the club have set a deal for a new stadium.
The local government commissioners for Miami-Dade have approved plans for a new home for The Marlins. Private and public investment is being sought for the $525 million project. Building is set to take place on the site of the famous Miami Orange Bowl and when the team move they will be renamed the Miami Marlins.
The Dolphin Stadium
The Dolphin Stadium was one of the first stadia of its size to be funded entirely through sponsorship and private investment. The project began in 1984, and cost in excess of 115 million US Dollars. A year later, work to clear the site was under way. A grand opening ceremony was held to mark the opening of the Joe Robbie Stadium.
A large proportion of the funds were acquired through licensing suites in the ground. Ten year leases were sold for these suites for up to 100 thousand US Dollars a year. Individual seats could also be bought for a ten year period for up to $2,000.
The stadium was listed primarily as a football stadium. The first match took place on August 16th, 1987 between the Dolphins and the Chicago Bears. The first baseball game saw the Baltimore Orioles take on the Los Angeles Dodgers, on the 11th March 1988.
Various financial changes have affected the stadium. The first major event was the purchase of half the stadium by Wayne Huizenga in 1990. Four years later, he managed to purchase the remaining fifty percent. This was the start of the huge baseball franchise that he went on to control.
Eleven years after the stadium was opened the stadium was renamed the Pro Player Park. The move came after Pro Player, part of the Fruit of the Loom brand, made significant investment in the stadium.
The name was soon changed to the Pro Player Stadium, as it was known until 2005. The Dolphin Stadium name has been in use for over two years, but may be set to change. Plans are in place to build a new stadium so the future, and name, of the Dolphin Stadium, is unclear.
Getting To The Dolphin Stadium
The Dolphin Stadium is located between Hollywood, Pembroke Pines and the Golden Glades Station. It is one mile south of the Dade-Broward county line on Dan Marino Boulevard. There are fifteen different parking areas, some of which open up to two and a half hours before games start. There are a large number of disabled parking spaces and a valet service, priced at $10 per car.
There are two main airports in close proximity to the stadium: the Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Airport and the Miami International Airport. From the Hollywood Airport take the I-595 west to the Florida Turnpike interchange.
Travel south on the turnpike to Exit 2X which leads directly onto Dan Marino Boulevard, and the entrance to the stadium. From Miami International Airport take Route 112 eastbound to the I-95. Travel north on the I-95 and then take the left onto Ives Dairy Road. The stadium is five miles down this road on the right.
Tickets can be bought at the ground, either on the day or in advance. Tickets can also be purchased online from the official Ticketmaster Website. There are four different classes of seating area. The Field Box, is the most expensive at $26 per game. This area is directly behind the field of play, and offers the best angles from which to view the games.
The Loge Box is $24 per game. The seats offer the same views as the Field Box, but from higher seats that are further away from the pitch. The Bleachers and Grass Berm areas are both priced at $12 per game. These two areas face perpendicular to the pitching direction. All prices are a dollar more for premium matches.
During the Spring Training games, discount tickets for groups of games are available. These tickets come in “Mini-Plans”, which means that for a reduced rate you can view five different games. These packages are $124 for the Loge Box, and $116 for the Field Box.
Matches usually officially start at 1:05 pm. Occasionally there are evening exhibition matches that start at 6 or 7pm.
The March 2008 game against the Boston Red Sox has a further package available, with a commemorative seat auction taking place. The seats are on the field of play itself, and some are directly behind the first base foul line. In addition to the amazing views, patrons will be able to take their seats home with them. The commemorative seats have the name of the stadium and the logos of both teams emblazoned upon them. Bids start at $300 and close on the 19th of February.