Category Archives: miami marlins

loanDepot Park


This page will only be here through 6/29, but I am saving these (and adding new parks as I see them) here, at See you on the other side!



First game: July 3, 2023 (Marlins 5, Cardinals 4)

When Aaron told me he wanted to go to Miami for his 12-year-old trip, I asked for only one promise. Usually, the 12-year-old

gets to make all of the decisions, but Aaron ceded me this one: we would go to a Marlins game. (It’s not like I had to twist his arm. The kid loves his baseball.) It was especially important because the decade-old home of the Marlins had become the only holdout: the last of the current MLB ballparks where I had not been to a game.

So, for the first time since 2006 (when I made it to the new Busch Stadium), I am complete again. (Not my life. My life is already delightful and complete. But in an MLB ballpark sense.)

I was probably biased against loanDepot park (gross name) before I got there simply because of my bias against indoor ballparks. Even a quick look at my MLB rankings will reveal that I don’t like indoor ballparks or ballparks that completely enclose with a roof. Arizona features “ants playing in the bottom of giant can of Fresca.” The Astrodome smelled like mold. I’m glad the Kingdome is gone. Globe Life Field feels like a Costco.

This was the first fully-enclosed ballpark (even temporarily fully-enclosed) that I have legitimately liked on its own merits. It’s not a good ballpark for an indoor ballpark. It’s a good ballpark, period.

I wish I were more of an expert on architecture so I could articulate exactly what I found beautiful about the park. Something about those blue windows and white stone together made this into a lovely place to look at. The paths to the ballpark married the greens and teals popular in the region, and that hideous big sculpture they used to have in the outfield is now outside (and, as Aaron pointed out, losing its color to sun-related bleaching–compare these colors from 2023 to the colors of the sculpture when the ballpark opened).

What marked me most about this ballpark was how successful the windows to the outside were. Yes, I know there are windows in Arizona and Milwaukee, but there is nothing to see outside those windows. When Aaron and I approached out section between home and first–I splurged for good seats since this was me completing my full 30 MLB parks again–I looked up and was amazed.

The iconic Miami skyline displayed itself for the entire length of that window. I could look up from the game to see that wonderful set of skyscrapers. They were visible, and they were beautiful. And they lead Miami to pass that “is there any question where you are” test.

Beyond that, the Marlins manage to celebrate baseball. The Marlins Museum had tons of cool paraphernalia from their 30 years as a franchise, and–this is critical–their two World Series trophies. If a team earns a World Series trophy, it belongs to the entire city’s fans and needs to be displayed where any fan can see it. (I’m talking to everybody, but I’m looking at you, Minnesota Twins.) I also get to remember Marlins from Conine to Johnson to Suzuki to Chisholm. Whoever put together that museum did a beautiful job.



Better, somehow, was what might be one of the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads. I went up expecting to see Marlins bobbleheads, including the A.J. Burnett bobblehead I got on my first visit to a Marlins game in 2005. However, they went way beyond that. There are bobbleheads from all of the teams available, and since they are organized in a loosely-organized way, I got to Remember Some Guys from my beloved Mariners as well as other teams.

I didn’t eat adventurously–had a flight home the next day–but I was impressed that they had a way to order at your seat and pick up the food. The bad news is that they didn’t do a good job of that. Aaron went to pick up some popcorn and soda we ordered, and…well, I will let him tell you what happened. His words follow.


So the tagline for this thing was “Skip the line, not the game.” If you don’t know, my dad made up a rule called the 5th Inning treat where in the 5th inning you can get some candy or something. So for that treat, we said, “Let’s use this skip the line thing.” We didn’t expect a wait (probably) longer then the line!(Note at this time only one restaurant had skip the line not the game open) I was standing there for a while cause I didn’t want dad to miss a Disengagement Violation or something. It was an unorganized mess. People were waiting in line for the skip the line not the game, and there’s this nice woman running around asking for people’s order numbers and giving them their orders. But she DIDN’T ASK FOR CONFIRMATION! I could have just said some random joe schmoe order number and STOLEN THEIR ORDER! Thankfully I was able to get everything but all in all 5/10. The chicken was Mid and the sKiP THe LinE NoT THe gamE was TERRIBLE.


We hit this ballpark during a really fun 2023 season for the Marlins: Luis Arraez was flirting with .400 (saw him hit a leadoff single) and the team had a rock-solid record and appeared on their way to a wild card berth. The crowd was pretty bustling. It felt like more than the 19 thousand and change that was announced. I think some of this is because the Marlins had closed the third deck. I found this a little disappointing, since I would imagine that view from the first-base side up there ranks with some of the better views in the majors. On the other hand, the third deck appears comparatively farther from the field than other third decks, so I am not positive that this would be a great place anyway. Still, I wonder if the crowds might have been eased if they had let a few people opt for cheaper seats up there.

The game was a banger, and Aaron put it really well: “This ballpark is like Miami: it’s a party.” It felt LOUD–much louder than the attendance. I can’t help but wonder what this place would sound like if it ever went deep into the fall. Even with the windows and roof open, I bet it would be quite a killer place to be.

And we did get a chance to get the roof and windows open because it was fireworks night. After the game, we watched them gradually expose us to the not-quite-as-hot-now-after-sunset Miami air. I liked that. After sunset, the view of the Miami skyline through the window was no longer there: the reflections of the lights from inside were too great for me to see the lights of the skyline. Once it was open, I could see it again. The fireworks were a little unremarkable until the final big blowup, but partying Miami denizens didn’t much care.

If you had told me going into the night that I would be ranking an indoor ballpark in my top ten, I would never had believed you. But Miami’s sense of fun and architectural beauty win the day. I’d have to say this is a really underrated place. And I say that as a guy who has now been to all the major league parks again.


Yuli Gurriel has the biggest hit of the night: a 7th-inning pinch-hit two-run double that tied up the score and spoiled a great outing by Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas. Nick Fortes then singled to score pinch-runner Jon Berti, and the Marlins had a win.

Tanner Scott, whom I figured was due for great things when I saw him slinging 100-mile-an-hour stuff for Bowie in Akron in 2017, nails down the 8th inning for the Marlins before A.J. Puk gets the save.

Willson Contreras homers on a positive moon shot: 39-degree launch angle!





By the way, this is that sculpture that I found so ugly. I am glad they moved it outside; it feels like it belongs there more. Aaron has pointed out that the colors have been bleached significantly since: he wants you to compare the colors in the photo above to colors in earlier times found here.


All photos by Paul Hamann except photos of Ichiro locker, trophies, crowd, banner, BP from 3B side, crates, and sculpture by Aaron Hamann.