Arguably this current era in baseball history will most likely be marked by the building of new ballparks. Throughout the last twenty years from Camden Yards to Marlins Park, twenty one new ballparks have been constructed. While new ballparks have clearly re-energized fans, the success that new teams have had in them within the first few years has been mixed. Today I will examine the main successes that teams have had entering new ballparks: a trend the Miami Marlins hope to emulate. The Marlins are clearly operating on the model that “if you build it, they will come” and have timed their free agent spending spree with the opening of Marlins Park.
A prime example of a team opening a new ballpark that used this model is the Cleveland Indians. Upon the opening of Jacobs Field, the Indians young core of Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez , Charles Nagy and Albert Belle would lead the team to multiple division titles and an appearance in the 1997 World Series. Cleveland, opened Jacobs Field in 1994 and from then to 2001 the Indians were consistently in playoff contention. The team timed the development of its young stars with the opening of its new park as the Marlins have done with Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. Like the Marlins have done, Cleveland used additional revenue from its new ballpark to sign star veterans such as Orel Hershiser and Dennis Martinez to supplement a young roster with unlimited potential. Without doubt, we hope that the Marlins will continue follow the model of the Indians as they enter their new park.
The Philadelphia Phillies have also followed a similar model when the team opened Citizens Bank Park in 2004. The fan base was thrilled by its new park after experiencing games in Veterans Stadium, a traditional cookie-cutter stadium and multisport facility. Behind a reenergized fan base, the Phillies were in contention and barely missed the playoffs from 2004 to 2006. Since then the team has won five straight division titles culminating with a World Series Championship in 2008 in what may be considered the Golden Age of baseball in Philadelphia. Prior to the opening of Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies were relatively inconsistent. The opening of their new stadium in 2004 prompted the Phillies to sign Jim Thome to a massive deal only one year prior. Ultimately, the stadium has allowed Philadelphia to continue to acquire premium talent such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee while allowing them to resign their own home grown stars such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Citizens Bank Park, like the new Marlins Park has energized fans and has brought both franchises new hope.
Like in Philadelphia and Cleveland, this reality is now present for the Miami Marlins. These two franchises promote the ultimate success stories with regards to the opening of new ballparks. Their paths are ones that Miami hopes to emulate as the Marlins attempt to become a long standing power within the National League. While these examples provide the ultimate success story, the more common result from the transition into a new ballpark is a mixed or variable degree of success. These cases will be examined next week. As we draw closer to the inaugural season at Marlins Park, fans hope that Miami follows the path of Cleveland and division rival Philadelphia.
Tags: Albert Belle Charles Nagy Chase Utley Cleveland Indians Cliff Lee Giancarlo Stanton Hanley Ramirez Jim Thome Josh Johnson Logan Morrison Manny Ramirez Marlins Park Miami Marlins Philadelphia Phillies Roy Halladay Ryan Howard