Chronological Tour: Stop 39

Joe Robbie Stadium

Walking up to the right-field entrance to Sun Life Stadium, Aug-2011.

The outfield seats fill up for football, but are usually closed off for baseball.

A behind-the-plate look at a small crowd for a Marlins game.

Quick Facts: Rating: 2 baseballs
I’ve never seen a baseball team want to get out of a facility so quickly.

The reason for the Florida Marlins’ discontent was simple. They were a second-class occupant of a football stadium, originally named for the owner of the Miami Dolphins (and, for a time, bearing the name of the NFL team), with a field that fits into the venue about as well as Oprah Winfrey fits into a size-6 dress.

Which isn’t to say that it was the worst place in the world to watch a ball game. The old manual out-of-town scoreboard was replaced several years later by an electric board that people could actually read; eventually that was replaced by the more common ribbon board. And the upper deck seats in the outfield, generally not available during baseball season, did get filled up during the 1997 World Series ... after which the owner promptly shed payroll because he said he was hemorrhaging money, dooming those seats to being void of patrons except during football season. The seats filled up again when the Marlins played in, and won, the 2003 World Series.

In the latest twist in the ballpark-naming game, the entertainer Jimmy Buffett pitched in to put one of his brands on the park. For most of the 2009 season, the facility was known as Land Shark Stadium; that deal expired at the end of the NFL regular season, and the park became known as Sun Life Stadium in time for the NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in early 2010. That deal has since expired, and the owners of the Hard Rock Cafe chain now have their name on the stadium.

The Marlins broke ground in July 2009 on a new park at the site of the storied Orange Bowl, a football stadium that hosted its namesake New Year’s Day college football game for over 70 years but which had become hopelessly outmoded and was demolished in the mid-2000s. The new park opened in 2012, at which time the baseball team renamed itself the Miami Marlins. Meanwhile, the annual Orange Bowl game is currently played here at the Dolphins’ stadium.

When the facility opened, its location was in an unincorporated area of Dade County (Miami-Dade County since 1997) known as Lake Lucerne. The city of Miami Gardens was incorporated in 2003 and encompasses the stadium.

Game # Date League Level Result
88 Wed 11-Aug-1993 National MLB FLORIDA 12, Chi Cubs 11
1141 Mon 8-Aug-2011 National MLB Atlanta 8, FLORIDA 5
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