The opening of Marlins Park in Little Havana has gone off with nary a hitch to start the 2012 season, but the Miami Marlins said Tuesday they are still dealing with a number of minor problems that might take the entire season to fix completely. Small leaks in the retractable roof and patches of dying grass in the outfield are the major issues being addressed.
"We knew going in the other retractable roof ballparks had to make adjustments the first two years to get their ballpark right," Marlins president David Samson told The Miami Herald. "We’re going to keep working and finding a way to make it better."
The leaks have been the easier of the two problems to fix thus far. Samson told the Herald that the team has been able to plug them as they pop up during the periodic South Florida rains.
"It’s very normal [to have leaks]," Samson told the newspaper. "But you need it to rain and see where [the leaks are]." Stadium workers have fixed the leaks by opening up roof panels and patching the joints in the structure.
"I guess they put gum on it," Samson said facetiously.
As for the outfield grass, well, it's not that easy to keep it alive when the retractable roof is closed for most games. Samson said the grounds crew had to replace the grass in right field just before Opening Day. The grounds crew has taken to using sun lamps to give the grass extra light during road trips and off days.
The Marlins president also blamed April's rainy weather for the difficulties with the grass, as the stadium roof was closed more than expected last month. The team may have to replace all the grass on the field before too long.
"I would say the sod had as difficult an April as the team did," Samson told the Herald. He says the team remains confident it can keep grass alive in the retractable roof stadium.
But if that fails, it seems like the team can afford to replace the sod every once in a while. Through 11 home games, the team is averaging attendance of 30,681, up 61 percent from 2011, when the team averaged attendance of 19,007. Their attendance numbers will likely improve when school gets out, as usually happens every season throughout MLB.
And unlike their deal at Sun Life Stadium, where the team split gate proceeds with the Dolphins (the stadium's owners), the Marlins get to keep all the gate at Marlins Park. They'll need the dough if the outfield grass keeps dying.