Fish tanks and palm trees - Miami's new baseball stadium

Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:29pm EDT
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By Kevin Gray

MIAMI (Reuters) - Get ready, baseball fans. Miami, the city of sun and fun, wants to bring some flair to America's favorite pastime.

When baseball's Opening Day kicks off next week, the Miami Marlins will inaugurate a new $515 million ballpark built with all the trappings of South Florida -- two enormous fish tanks, palm trees and a kitschy (of course) home run celebration display.

The stadium, named Marlins Park, "screams Miami," team owner Jeffrey Loria has said.

The white semi-domed, stadium is an attempt by Loria and city officials to reignite fan interest in a team that won the World Series in 1997, and again in 2003, but finished at the bottom of the National League East Division standings last year.

They also hope it will help revitalize Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, a rough-and-tumble district near downtown and a cultural symbol for many in Miami's large Cuban community.

The stadium's official opening on Wednesday will mark a new chapter for the Marlins, who have changed their name, redesigned their uniforms and embarked on a spending spree for a high-profile manager and free agents to breathe new life into the team.

To win over fans, the Marlins are offering up a baseball experience with a dash of Latin and South Beach style.

The stadium's signature feature will be its backdrop at home plate. Two 450-gallon salt water aquariums sit on either side and will be stocked with 100 tropical fish.   Continued...

Marlins Park, the new home of the Miami Marlins MLB baseball team is shown during a tour in Miami, Florida, March 28, 2012. The Marlins will open their season on April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. REUTERS/Joe Skipper