The Marlins Reach “Major League” Status – Who’s Next?

Congratulations to the Florida Marlins, who today celebrated the groundbreaking of their new stadium (scheduled to open in 2012).  More details on the stadium are available in today’s Miami Herald as well as the official site of the Marlins.

And today’s festivities are all the more sweet considering the ups and downs in the team’s pursuit of a new ballpark in the years since their inception in 1993 – a period that, of course, contains an amazing two world championships (in 1997 and 2003).

The future home of the Florida Marlins

The future home of the Florida Marlins

As best as I can figure it, with the opening of the two grand palaces in New York for the Yankees and Mets this year along with next season’s debut of the Minnesota Twins’ open-air stadium, only two MLB teams now remain in “need” of a new ballpark.

One of them, the Oakland A’s, have been playing in a real dump (Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) since 1968, sharing the stadium with the Oakland Raiders for most of that time and working feverishly for years now to fnd a new home. 

For the latest on their stadium efforts, including their decision to pull the plug on a plan to move to nearby Fremont, check out this interview with team owner Lew Wolff on Athletics Nation from a couple months ago.  Among other revelations, this great read gives keen insight into the challenges inherent with trying to get anything done these days in the state of California.

The other team pushing hard for a new stadium is the Tampa Bay Rays.  Last year’s breakthrough season certainly helped their cause and this feature from yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times will bring you up-to-speed on their current plans and why an advisory group insists that a new stadium will need a retractable roof (potentially adding $100 million or more to the overall total). 

The Rays’ current home, Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990, was a deciding factor in the Tampa/St. Pete area being awarded an expansion team for the 1998 season.  But, the fact that (once the Twins move into their new ballpark) the Rays will be the only major league team to play in a stadium with a roof that cannot open and one of only two teams to not play on natural grass does provide solid rationale for a new stadium to sustain their relevancy for future generations.

The issues are complex and ongoing negotiations will be tricky, but as an outside observer, it would be great to see Oakland and St. Petersburg figure out ways to forge a public/private partnership to get these new ballparks built.  Once completed, they would at least provide respite for members of these communities as they focus on larger issues in the years ahead.  Sports aren’t everything, but a baseball stadium can be a point of pride and a great cornerstone for cities that want to remain “major league”.

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~ by acm213 on July 18, 2009.

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