Florida Marlins stadium taking shape

The new Marlins baseball stadium is rising over East Little Havana, with the work on track to hear 'play ball' in 2012.

Click here to watch video of the stadium in progress.

The Roman Colosseum it's not, but it is round. The publicly financed, $634 million Marlins baseball stadium is rapidly taking shape in East Little Havana, where its tall roof-support columns already loom like alien monoliths over the modest apartment houses around it.

After seven months of construction, work is about a quarter done and ``on track'' for the scheduled April 2012 opening, team officials and their contractors said Tuesday. They led a media tour of the stadium, which occupies the site of the demolished -- and also round -- Orange Bowl at Northwest Sixth Street and 14th Avenue.

"We will be ready to play ball,'' said Sid Perkins, construction manager for the joint-venture contractor, Hunt/Moss. ``There is no doubt.''

The shell of the seven-story main structure -- which will house team offices as well as luxury suites -- has been topped off, water pipes and bathrooms are going in, and grandstand construction is under way. The poured concrete looks nice and smooth.

The stadium shell is relatively simple to build, though the ziggurat-shaped cantilevered grandstand supports can be ``a little tricky,'' Perkins said.


But the real engineering and construction feat may be the support system for the stadium's retractable roof. On the north and south sides of the stadium, four slender, oval columns hold up concrete beams weighing millions of pounds, cast on site and hydraulically lifted into place.

The columns only suggest how high the stadium is going to go -- 264 feet at the roof's tallest point, or the equivalent of a 25-story tower.

The two sets of columns are of differing heights. The base of the sliding roof, Marlins vice president Claude Delorme noted, will slant from 157 feet on the north down to 127 feet on the south in an attempt to lessen the visual impact on 80-year-old apartment buildings across the street that are just two to four stories tall.

As the builders close the perimeter, the intimate scale of the 37,000-seat stadium, one of the smallest in the major leagues, is becoming apparent. Seats will be unusually close to the field, and more than third of them will be on the bottom tier. Even the last row of the nosebleed seats, at 124 feet above ground level, will feel like it is practically on top of home plate.


Most seats will have at least a partial view of downtown Miami's skyline to the east when the roof is open, though structural elements may obstruct some vistas. Over left field, six massive, moveable glass panels will permit views of the skyscrapers fronting Bicentennial Park even when the dome is shut.

Also under way: about $17 million worth of improvements to public infrastructure, including new water and sewer lines, to accommodate the stadium.

Yet to start: two large parking garages, to be built by the city of Miami, that will house restaurants and retail stores at the stadium's north and south flanks. The north garage is to start construction in May, the Marlins' Delorme said, and both structures should be done in time for the inauguration.

Breaking with a long-standing trend for ``retro'' downtown ballparks that blend into their urban surroundings, the streamlined Miami stadium is distinctly contemporary in design, the preference of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, a modern-art dealer. But some critics say that lends the park the appearance of being ``plunked down'' in the old neighborhood, with at least one wag likening its bowl shape to a bidet.

Source: The Miami Herald