Dolphins Stadium, Miami, FL
Number of games: 1
First game: April 9, 2005 (Nationals 3, Marlins 2, 10 innings)
To the relief of all of my students who struggle with possessive apostrophes, Dolphins Stadium became Dolphin Stadium on April 6, 2006. As of the 2009 season, however, the ballpark is called Land Shark Stadium.
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)
I had never been to Florida when I traveled there over my spring break in 2005 to take care of the Southeastern United States’ major league baseball stadiums.
Let’s start with the name, which gives away the main problem with the stadium. Its original name, Joe Robbie Stadium, came from the Dolphins’ owner. Its second name, Pro Player Stadium (which, as of the start of the 2005 season, still graced a few forgotten signs both inside and outside the stadium), was a fairly typical dull corporate name,
One of the things I was most looking forward to at the ballpark was seeing the salsa dancing. no images were found
no images were foundI happened to see a special on cable TV listing the top ten ballpark foods. There, I learned that the Marlins have a salsa band play before Saturday night games. Sure enough, when I got there, there was a salsa band playing. Sort of. By playing, I mean “mailing it in.” For starters, although the band featured a singer, a guitar player, and a drummer, most of their noise came from a boom box which appeared to be playing karaoke versions of their salsa favorites. Secondly, when I arrived at the ballpark, I found the drummer actually talking on a cell phone while he played. This has to be the worst possible thing a performer can do. Was he working on a real estate transaction? Was he missing beats with his left hand while he played with his right? Combine that with the yucky concrete concourse where they played, which was bad for both acoustics and atmosphere, and there wasn’t any reason to hang around and listen to them…and few people did.
One more complaint–in spite of the smallish crowd, the concession lines at Dolphins Stadium were the longest I’ve ever experienced. I got in line a half hour before the game began, and barely made it back for first pitch. The service was slow, but the folks made up for it by being rude. You might not want to head to the concourse to eat, at least not on the lower level.
In spite of all of these negatives, I still had a marvelous time at Dolphins Stadium, in good part due to the wonderful fans around me.
Jackie’s eidetic skill was most apparent in the following exchange she had with her dad after a screaming foul ball landed not far from us:
JACKIE’S DAD: “Remember that game we came to last year, where they guy near us got hit in the head by a foul ball?”
JACKIE: “Yes. That was when we saw the Braves on April 24th last year. A Saturday game. Brad Penny got the win, and Conine had his first homer of the year. The foul was off of Cabrera’s bat.”
Guess what? Every detail of that was accurate. I checked it out.
Now that’s a fan after my own heart. Someone asked Jackie how she knew so much about the game. Her answer could apply to anyone who’s knowledgeable about any topic, from history to calculus to baseball to musical theater to motorcycles: “Baseball is interesting. I just watch, listen, and read a lot.” Charming kid.
I also had a bizarre small-world moment after meeting a Floridian next to me. He casually mentioned that his son played Division III baseball. I don’t know what Division III schools are in the Southeast, so I asked where his son went to school. His answer: “A school called Kenyon in Gambier, Ohio.” What a bizarre moment! I went to Kenyon, and only missed his son by a couple of years. The odds against that were astonishing…I’m from Seattle, so Dolphins’ Stadium is 4,000 miles away from home and 1,500 miles away from Kenyon.
As the game wore on, I grew to like these people around me, and once they started talking to me (because they figured out that I was trying to get to all of the ballparks), we got to be buds, and I started rooting for the Marlins, even though I don’t have any emotional attachment to them
Points for the organist at Dolphins Stadium, for playing snippets from tangentially-appropriate songs as every Nationals’ player approached the plate–snippets that were only appropriate with some thought. For example:
Jose Vidro–The Carpenters’ “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”
Livan Hernandez–Elton John’s “Levon”
Ryan Church–Dixie Cups’ “Goin’ to the Chapel”
Nick Johnson–“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town”
The organist would play bits buried in the verses of the songs, too, so that I had to think ahead to future lyrics to get the jokes. Fun stuff.
Special thanks to the Dolphins Stadium usher who saved my bacon. I had lost my rental car key…it had fallen out of my pocket when I took my camera out to take pictures of the postgame fireworks display (always a silly idea, yet one I keep trying when I’m at a game with fireworks). It had fallen out of my shorts pocket. When you’re carrying a big wallet, cellphone, tickets, camera, and more in your pockets, it’s easy to lose keys when taking things in and out of them. I was trying to figure out how I’d make the game at Tropicana Field the next afternoon, and my new friends were desperately looking for a single car key, when an usher found the key for me–and, incredibly, refused my grateful tip. I only wish guys like him worked the concession stands.
So while I believe that there are a lot of negative aspects to Dolphins Stadium–namely, that it’s the Dolphins’ Stadium first and foremost, and that baseball isn’t meant to be there–I still had a tremendous time there with the residents of South Florida. I continue to be impressed with how nice people are when I travel, and on this swing through Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, the fine folks of Miami were the nicest I encountered. Great baseball fans, all of them. Although things don’t look good for them as I write this in May of 2005, I hope something comes through for them and that they get a stadium they deserve someday soon.
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
A tremendous ballgame. Ryan Church and Vinny Castilla homer back-to-back to give Washington a 5th-inning lead, but the Marlins tie it up with Delgado’s 9th-inning homer. Two batters later, Paul LoDuca pounds one to left field that I am convinced ends the game…I start high-fiving people again…but it turns out that, rather than a home run, it’s a single that hit six inches from the top of the tall left-field scoreboard. The game goes to extra innings, and the Nats win it on Jose Guillen’s homer in the 10th.(Written April 2005.)