Opening Night at Marlins Park: impressive views, parking for a price and a long wait for tacos
Apr 05, 2012 (The Miami Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Like any Opening Night, this one had its share of raves, flubs and hiccups. Plus, there was something of a fish-taco crisis.
To measure how Marlins Park performed in its official debut, The Miami Herald set out to test the new stadium from a fan's perspective. Our report follows, all based on first-hand experiences and interviews with fans.
How hard was it to get to the stadium?
Despite the angst over parking, we were able to find a spot at a public garage on the Jackson hospital complex without too much hassle. Cost: $10. And even on a sold-out Opening Night, there were plenty of spaces for rent on people's lawns. Don't expect a bargain. Our correspondent paid $30 to park at a medical office a few blocks from the ballpark.
Public transportation was more of a challenge. The trip from downtown via Metromover and Metrorail took us one hour and 15 minutes, and much of the delay came waiting for the new Miami stadium trolley.
Located a few steps from the Civic Center Metrorail stop, the trolley stop was a frustrating place to be Wednesday evening. The first trolley we saw at 6:15 p.m. was full. The second took more than 20 minutes to arrive. Many of the fans we were in line with abandoned hope and started walking. And the narrow sidewalk meant a stream of Jackson commuters having to weave in and out of the baseball crowd.
Do I need expensive seats?
Not really. The new stadium has a broad "promenade" ringing the stadium that allows fans to stand just behind the expensive seats in the lower level and see the action from throughout the stadium.
Can I get WiFi?
Yes, but not everywhere. We tested the wireless signal as we wandered the Promenade Level during peak usage times (National Anthem, first at-bat) and found it worked surprisingly well in most places. The one exception was an area between center field and third base, where WiFi was impossible to access. Cell phone coverage was a little spotty too, and text messages took a long time to send. Some fans reported they coudn't acesss WiFi or cellular service at all from their seats, so it might be easiest to hit Facebook while you're in line for food.
Can you pre-order food?
Not on opening night. Instructions were supposed to be posted throughout the park and the mobile ordering system was supposed to be available through the MLB At Bat app. But we found nothing on the app and no clue that the feature existed.
Are there enough bathrooms?
Definitely. Even with a sold-out crowd, there was virtually no wait when we visited.
Can I get a cafe con leche at the park?
Kind of. The Cuban specialty is available for $3 at Holiday Bakery & Cafe, on the ground floor of the stadium exterior. But you'll have to indulge before or after games; if you get a hankering during the fourth inning, you can't leave for coffee and re-enter the park.
Will I have to wait in line for food?
If things don't get better, definitely. Concession stands struggled to keep up Wednesday night, and the Marlins' effort to serve higher-end food appears to be the culprit. Russell Posner, a marketing executive from Plantation, waited to so long for mahi-mahi tacos that the clerks gave him a ticket and told him to go back to his seats and come back in 30 minutes. He walked away from the stand with food at 7:45 p.m.; his receipt was marked 6:56 p.m.
"It's their first night,'' he said. "I have no complaints."
Everyone didn't seem quite as patient, as the beleaguered staff triaged the $12 tacos among those who had been waiting longest as a new batch emerged from the kitchen. Voices were definitely raised.
Was it too hot with the roof open?
Yes and no. If you're standing in line for food, definitely. If you're near one of the open-air sections, you should be comfortable (at least at night). And the views of downtown that come with the open-air stadium are pretty impressive.
Is the beer cold?
Yes. We double-checked.
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