If you build it - Traffic will consume the neighborhood, taxpayers will fund 73% of 2000 temporary construction jobs, Jeffery Loria will cash out in a few years, the Little Havana neighborhood will be revitalized disenfranchised, The Marlins will stay in Miami (for 35 years, guaranteed), etc…

This Friday, the Miami-Dade Commission will meet to determine the fate (maybe - they will likely postpone the vote) of the Marlins’ Ballpark at the Orange Bowl.  As we noted earlier, from a strictly urban policy perspective – the current site plan (and funding scheme) is a calamity.

In addition to bilking taxpayers for 73% of stadium costs, we will also find ourselves footing the bills for at least $100 million dollars worth of parking.  Then, in the not too distant future, we’ll realize we built the stadium too far away from existing transit, and we’ll need to fund a reasonable solution (like a streetcar west from downtown to the MIC) or our elected officials will think up of a $180 million scheme to create a people-mover extension from the Culmer station.  By this point, I’m sure most rational people would then agree that it would have been better to save the hundreds of millions in parking and transit costs and just build the damned thing in downtown, near existing parking and transit to begin with…  But hey, this is Miami, right?  We can’t do anything right…

To reiterate – the current site plan will have deleterious effects on the surrounding community.  In its current state, the site will act as a vacuum – sucking in traffic while providing few benefits to little Havana.

Central to the Marlins’ and public officials’ pitch to taxpayers was a promise that, in exchange for $450 million in public subsidies, the $609 million stadium project would propel redevelopment in the surrounding area, luring commerce, jobs, amenities and foot traffic to an area that sorely lacks them.

But the stadium site plan released this month suggests that the city of Miami’s approach might best be summed up as “build it and hope.”

Contrary to Andres Viglucci’s thoughts, to me, the current site plan evoke more of a “build it and to hell with the surroundings.”

In reading the article last weekend, I was curious if anyone caught onto the glaring contradiction posed by the political proponents of the stadium plan and the city planners.

On one hand, political proponents claim the park will serve as a catalyst, bringing commercial and retail activity to the community at least 80 days a year.  This activity is confined to the “mixed-use” garages (FYI – parking/retail mix does not constitute mixed use) that provide scarce retail space along the base of the garages.  This space, of course, is supposed to be sufficient to create a vibrant district around the stadium, regardless of the season.

Then the truth comes out we have the city planner’s take on the garages surrounding the stadium:

City planners say the size and shape of the garages were dictated largely by the Marlins’ need for 6,000 spaces and quick exit times.

My question remains, if we were planning a vibrant district around the stadium, wouldn’t we want to complicate the exit procedure so that people would linger around the stadium longer?  It appears that is what the Seminole Hard Rock Casino did (rather well, I might add) in Hollywood (from what I’m told: just try leaving there in a timely manor on a Saturday night after a concert…) From a planning perspective, I would agree that this idea is convoluted, but it illustrates that the entire site plan is being designed so that drivers can come and leave as efficiently as possible on game day – not as it should be – a structure built to compliment a community.

As our own Tony Garcia aptly noted, ”Why are people going to come to this area?  What’s going to make it a destination, and not just for baseball games?…You need a better mix of uses here, not just parking garages.”

Below are a few images of some other successful baseball parks around the country.  These stadiums, particularly San Diego’s Petco Park, exemplify what a Baseball stadium should look like, how it should fit in with the surroundings, and how people interact with these spaces not just during baseball season, but 365 days a year. Compare these parks to the rendering above.

The Development Around Petco Park

The Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: docsplatter)

New Development Around Petco Park

New Development Around Petco Park (Image Via: Oh Snap)

Development Around AT&T Park

Development Around AT&T Park (Image Via: Gedawei)

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL

Wrigley Field as Seen From the EL (Image Via: straightedge217)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

Fenway Park's Entrance (Image Via: Ally85)

8 Responses to If You (We) Build It

  1. Juan Felipe says:

    Mr. Bernal,
    I am in TOTAL agreement with your post. If find it appalling and almost repulsive how Loria and the stadium design team pretty much slapped all of Little Havana in the face with this horrid design. It will add nothing to the community but a vacuum, as you said (not to mention there is no transit component and the Marlins have not yet released all of the information on their part of the Stadium deal).


  2. Blingtown says:

    This one kills me…

    I am a huge baseball fan, but the city & the neighborhood are getting the short end here in a major way. It is so completely obvious that this is going over budget and the the money will come from the general fund, that all other financial talk is a joke. It is appalling when the politicos know the truth, know it will cause massive hardship, and choose to stick their head in the sand for reasons of pride and self-interest. I don’t think the stadium design itself is too bad, but as for the urbanism of putting an insulating layer of craptacular parking garages around the stadium, it is equally appalling.

    Another nice example of a stadium done right is Coors field in Denver. Much of it was good timing with other development, but it helped revive a neighborhood.


  3. Kevin says:

    Why so much parking?! I know they don’t want to move it to Downtown, but at least, can they get rid of all the parking? I hate the Marlins, they’re such opportunitists and our politicians who won’t do anything to stand up for the citizens instead of the Marlins.


  4. Mike Lydon says:

    another issue to take is how this building will likely not age well. It’s disorienting plan and abstract elevation will likely date this thing in just a few short years. Not to mention, the likelihood that a tropical storm or hurricane could do enough damage to render the retractable roof useless for a period of time and be very expensive to ultimately repair.


  5. Ellen says:

    I visited Cleveland, OH about 10 years ago and they have a great location for their Indians baseball stadium, right downtown and a river [Cuyahoga?] within a couple of blocks, lined with bars and restaurants, packed with revelers after the game and short walk away, a train to take people out to the suburbs/airport after the festivities.


  6. […] If You (We) Build It | Transit Miami - Below are a few images of some other successful baseball parks around the country. These stadiums, particularly San Diego’s Petco Park, exemplify what a Baseball stadium should look like, how it should fit in with the … […]


  7. Brandon in San Diego says:

    As a transportation planner in San Diego I can forward that there is very little traffic congestion around Petco Park! Virtually nil! Game days are of course much different; however, traffic congestion is very managemable with staff directing traffic. Any congestion is limited to the hour before and after games… so, approximately 162 hours out of the year.

    Of course, the San Diego example includes robus transit access to games. Approximately 1/3rd-ish of game attendees arrive by Trolley or bus; mostly trolley. That is about 6,000 to 9,000 attendees, or 12,000 to 18,000 trips. … with total game attendance in the 20,000 to 40,000 range.

    Additionally, many game attendees live downtown and walk to the game.

    Downtown really benefits with the downtown ballpark. Many many people hit the Gaslamp aftewards. Games are not just games, they are events. I’d recommend that if Miami wants a new park for their baseball team, that they choose to put it in a place with transit already in place and in an dense urban area. That said, I am not in any loop with what’s goin on in Miami. Good luck to you guys.


  8. DannyM says:

    This looks like a beautiful ballpark, but it does need transit. About 95% of the MLB parks have PT right next to it. Glad to see MLB will be kept in South Florida, hopefully the old negative and unhappy people will wake up and see the rewards of such a nice stadium.


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