The opening of Marlins Park symbolizes the beginning of a new era of Miami Marlins baseball. This era marks an unprecedented level of stability within the organization. Over 40,000 fans filed into Fan Fest over the course of the day Saturday with high expectations going into the 2012 season. While walking throughout the park, the majority of fans were left with a sense of awe and wonder of this incredible facility. This fan excitement, due to the completion of the stadium corresponding with the rebuilt team, of course has been marked by a greater degree of national prominence and exposure. Recently, the transformation and transition of the Marlins has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and is being covered by Time Magazine as well as the New York Times.
While enjoying the sights and sounds of Fan Fest, I encountered and met with a writer for the New Yorker who is currently writing a column on the new Miami Marlins. Like many in the national media, he was particularly interested in the following question: will fans forgive and be one hundred percent supportive of the team despite past disappointment and a seemingly lack of loyalty from the organization? This writer’s primary focus seemed to be of fans willingness to forgive and forget; in other words their ability to trust the team going forward. Without doubt, the teams move 15 miles south has further widened the division of the fan base between Broward and Palm Beach counties and Miami-Dade. The increased traffic driving through downtown Miami at first was not thought to bode well for fans from northern areas. This lack of trust with the team was culminated with the insistence of a transformation into a new franchise with a new fan base in combination with a lack of acknowledgment of the team’s history. It will be a very exciting season going forward, but if the consensus feeling at Fan Fest was any indication, fans will be more than satisfied with Marlins Park and will be completely supportive of the team in the future. It is my hope that the team’s success this season will result in a renewed trust of the team in addition to a pristine perception of the franchise by the national media. Despite mixed results in terms of the impact new ballparks have had on their teams, South Florida appears ready to embrace the Marlins as their own entering the 2012 season.