With Marlins Park’s opening, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the Miami franchise is unquestionably on a stronger footing.
“There’s no longer a debate whether they’re going to stay. They’re stronger,” he told NBC 6 in an interview Wednesday. “They have a chance to get players. You saw what happened this winter.”
With the season-opening, inaugural game between the Marlins and the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals just hours away, Selig said he believes the new stadium will have a major impact not just on the Marlins and their fans but on the region.
“Every place I could take you – to Milwaukee, Denver, Cincinnati, on and on and on – it becomes really the centerpiece of their community life in a lot of ways,” he said of previous ballparks that have made their debuts. “I think that 5 or 10 years from now you’ll say to me ‘Boy, you were right, this stadium is the real thing.’ If it makes a city a better place to live, then it did what we set out to do.”
The new ballpark in Little Havana, which was largely publicly financed, cost $515 million. The entire complex, including four parking garages, cost $634 million, The Miami Herald reported.
The commissioner was in downtown Miami Wednesday afternoon addressing business leaders who belong to the Beacon Council, an economic engine that works to attract firms to Miami-Dade. The group of business leaders say the stadium is going bring companies to South Florida that don’t have anything to do with baseball.
“Quality of life is increasing important for companies as to where they locate and what they do,” Beacon Council President Frank Nero said. “So it’s the whole package. We talk to companies they want to know about the arts and the great performing arts center. They want to know we have great professional sports teams.”
Selig said there is “always honest and vigorous debates” about new ballparks before they are built. Marlins Park is the 21st that has risen in his years as commissioner.
“But you look after they’re built, and you can debate the economic values which I think are enormous – and we have a lot of studies — but the sociological value of the new ballpark is unbelievable,” Selig said.
Opening Day 2012 is a dream come true for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who initially conceived the ballpark on a napkin four years ago.
“I woke up this morning and kind of pinched myself. And I will probably pinch myself before the first pitch,” Loria said. “It’s a dream for the city. I know it’s hard to understand that or believe it, but it’s about doing good things, for me. Major league baseball belongs in South Florida.”