As the Marlins stadium agreement moves toward a final vote at the February 13 County Commission meeting, we finally have more detailed renderings and a site plan of the proposed ballpark. Aside from the fact that I’m philosophically opposed to the deal in its current form, the hodgepodge site plan and bland design don’t do much to win me over. I am really disappointed that this is the best we can come up with for such an important site in our city.

The first and most obvious problem is the use of the corner of NW 7th Street and 17th Avenue (in the top left of the site plan) as spillover parking. Parking? Really? This would be a great location for a mixed use development that would attract people who would actually want to live here. The same is true for the parking lots along NW 17th avenue - an important boulevard in the city. Where are people going to go before and after games? What this development is lacking are all the elements that would make this a real destination - shops, bars, and restaurants. The lack of transit connectivity is also a huge problem (is there even a bus stop incorporated into the design??) and the abundance of exposed parking garages and parking lots are not inviting. This promises to be yet another boondoggle that people flock to in their cars on game day, and leave right after. The surrounding neighborhood will not benefit economically from the increased traffic flowing through the area because there is nowhere for people to go (the Marlins have made sure of that - how else would they make money on concessions). The site will slowly fall into disrepair and be obsolete in twenty years (read: Miami Arena 1, Miami Arena 2, Orange Bowl, etc.)  Most of 17th avenue will continue to look as it does today: a string of parking lots that remain empty 90% of the time.

As with every other aspect of this deal the only winners are the Marlins - the City foots the bill for constructing the parking garages (which is not really their job) and part of the stadium and the Marlins sit back and collect.

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17 Responses to The Marlins Ballpark: A Lost Opportunity

  1. Steven says:

    I feel that putting the stadium closer to the main roadways and tucking the parking behind a series of reatil shops and restaurants would be far more benefitial to the surrounding rather than putting it into the protective-parking-sandwich design they have chosen which will ultimately isolate this stadium from the surrounding area. It does look like there will be some retail space in the garages, but this is just trying to put lipstick on a pig.

    On another note, I remember reading somewhere that part of the economic stimulous package the City of Miami was seeking federal dollars for an extension of Metro Mover to the stadium site. While that seems like it will be rediculously a long way away, this would help improve the transit connections to this boondogle and the surrounding areas.


  2. You beat me to the Punch Tony - great article and assessment.

    This Stadium is a total boondoggle. The site plan is terrible, disjointed, and isolates the stadium from the surrounding neighborhood. Little Havana will have a huge vacuum in its heart, bringing traffic and loads of problems with few benefits for the local residents.

    I’m not surprised that the stadium looks like this, but nonetheless, I am appalled. Forget all the bike lanes, sustainability plans, and efforts to improve transit - this stadium plan automatically negates all these efforts. It is all related. This stadium exemplifies Miami planning…


  3. Mike Lydon says:

    Who designed the stadium? It seems they did absolutely no precedent research on what makes a good urban stadium in context. It’s as if they treated this highly urban site as if it were in the same place as Dolphin stadium. Old ballparks and new, retro aesthetics aside, can become_places_ even when the game isn’t happening. Wrigley, Fenway, Camden Yards etc. are embedded within an urban fabric that can support services around the stadium on the majority of days in the year when there are no games.


  4. cb says:

    The location is great. Close to downtown, gables, midtown. If only it could be as integrated as Wrigley Field/Wrigleyville, but the area is crap right now and our public transit sucks. Destined to fail.

    However I’ll attend at least 10 games a year in this new location, I hit 1 game a year at Dolphin Stadium.


  5. maf says:

    There is retail along the part of the garage that faces the ballpark on both sides. The Agreement documents also mentions the retail development.


  6. Tony Garcia says:

    maf, according to the site plan, the only liner I see is a residential liner facing the neighborhood to the south and a possible retail space facing NW 7th Street (not labeled) - with exposed garages on the sides facing the stadium. If you have another source of information I’m sure we would all like to see something better than what is being shown above!


  7. Felipe A says:

    Perfect example as to why Miami will never progress to be a world class city. Add the ballpark to the list of half-baked ideas. This is a missed opportunity to bring the stadium downtown. Imagine how great it would be if people could walk to the stadium after work.


  8. Tony Garcia says:

    The city parking agreement does say that ‘preliminary plans call for approximately 60,000 sf of commercial/retail space’ although that is not evident from the site plan.


  9. I would suggest taking a look at Minute Maid Park in Houston and ATT Park in San Francisco. In Houston I’ll admit that it’s not perfect and there is spill parking but at least the stadium fronts to the streets and the land around the park is in blocks that could be redeveloped at some future date to integrate with the stadium It’s obvious these guys didn’t take a look around, either that or just don’t care.


  10. It also looks like you could have had a Metrorail extension for just under a mile. I would imagine the extension would have cost about $250-$300 million. How much do those parking lots cost? Missing a huge opportunity there as well in terms of generated revenue from TOD and ridership.


  11. Tony Garcia says:

    I agree. I said that a few weeks ago when the initial ‘stimulus wishlists’ were released.


  12. maf says:

    TG, there are dozens of awnings along the bottom floor of the garages.

    here is a bigger rendering:

    If you would search ‘retail’ in the Baseball Stadium Agreement:

    There are conditions as to what type of development will and will not be permitted in the retail area.

    The agreement gives the city the right to develop any land on the entire site (titled: Other Development). There is a page on a soccer stadium.

    In light of some of the language in the Agreement. I suspect many of the surface lots around the ballpark will be developed into commercial and residential spaces as completion of the ballpark nears and the economy recovers.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the soccer stadium is built on the southeast corner of the site.

    As for the garages, I would not be surprised to see them covered in vines or growth like the garage in SoBe.

    IMO, it’s too early to tag this a failure. 1) The surface lots scream temporary and 2) HOK S+E designed the ballpark. They have designed several ballparks at the major league level and dozens at the minor league level as the anchors to projects like these. 3) There is language in the agreement that allows the city to further develop the site.


  13. maf says:

    Also let me add that the Agreement also says retail may utilize ‘the Plaza’ between the ballpark and the garages.


  14. Tony Garcia says:

    In the form of what? Marlins memorabilia kiosks? (And that is with severe limits as to what can be sold and when.) It is not what the agreement says, but what it doesn’t. It should call for the development of a real neighborhood. It should call for a series of community charrettes that let the neighborhood decide how the site is developed. The agreements are a distraction from the real mistake here - that the plan lacks cohesion and neighborhood amenities. Why was a public site planned and designed with NO public input?


  15. Tony Garcia says:

    To clarify: the site plan doesn’t show any liners facing the ballpark. The awnings in the rendering are on the side of the residential liner (one of 2 liners out of a possible 8).
    I read the report when it came out and found nothing reassuring about the possible development of the future sites (much less the soccer field). Why are the most prominent sites left empty when they should have been part of phase 1?

    Lets also forget the overarching fuckup of the plan in that it doesn’t provide a successful connection to mass transit. That should have been the first thing to address before redeveloping this site.

    I would love to see this site developed - just in a responsible way. Public input charrettes are not uncommon when other cities develop sports venues. Here is an example for Boston’s Fenway Park:

    PS. The agreement also says that any ‘beer garden’ has to stop serving drinks a couple of hours before game time (while being silent on bars and restaurants). Does a bar constitute a beer garden? I know it sounds funny, but if the agreement keeps drinks from flowing before game time, that would severely limit the development of restaurants and bars - a big problem when you want to make a successful entertainment district.


  16. [...] stellar reviews from University of Miami School of Architecture faculty, the Miami Herald, and various blogs- it lacks urban connectivity, a viable and diverse program, and will contribute very little [...]


  17. Barry J. O'Brien says:

    I just read of a new company called Ballgame Express. They plan to run buses to Marlins games from multiple locations in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. Looks like a great idea.


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