Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The final team logo sticker to represent us visiting all 30 MLB ballparks this summer was the Florida Marlins. The sticker for the Marlins is the Marlin fish logo. Dad put it up after we got it at the Team Shop and before the game. After the game Dad and I took photos of each of us in front of it, but Mik would not pose. I did finally get one with him five days later and will be posting that after a few other posts.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Parking at Land Shark Stadium was easy. It does take a little driving around it to the one open gate for parking because they do not open it all up for a baseball game, but it is not hard to spot the open gate. The handicap parking is located pretty close, although you do still have to cross the main in and out traffic lane for the parking lot to get to and from the spots and the stadium. It really is a poor design to have the traffic lanes go around the stadium in front of the parking spots. It makes it dangerous for anyone to cross the car traffic to get to their car as well as making it hard for people in wheelchairs to be able to just fit between the cars often stopped too close together.
Actually entering the stadium was easy. The main reason was there were absolutely no crowds. This meant it was easy to go on the elevator without having people that do not need it trying to hog the elevator. They also have a person outside the elevator after the game making sure priority goes to those that really need it. This is great because really few besides those with wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers should need the elevator because right there is a short escalator out of the park. All the seating is on the lower level except for suites and football games. Also, to get just to the level of all the seating you do need the elevator/escalator and it is not avoidable like it is for many parks if you sit on the lower level.
We sat in section 125. The seats were pretty good. The view was great from centerfield. The bar in front was not a problem at all. The seats are also raised up in front and pushed back from the row in front, so that the view is not ever blocked by people standing in the row in front of the wheelchair section. This is due to their being a ramp up to the section right in front of the section. This ramp makes the section sort of its own and keeps it from having the general section traffic ending up crowding it, which is an issue at many ballparks. Mik also liked that each spot had a cup holder.
The only issue I had with the wheelchair section was that they only sell you one companion seat next to the wheelchair spot. The other ticket is for what they say is the row behind the wheelchair row, but technically that does not exist. There was not usher to explain, but I am pretty sure this supposed row 29 ends up being folding chairs behind the wheelchair row. Boy would that be a messy traffic jam trying to get in and out of the section during the game if there were even just a few families in the section that had people in the supposed extra companion row behind us. As it was, though, it was no issue because we were the only ones in the section. We just took a set of two permanent seats with a wheelchair space next to it in the wheelchair row.
Overall Land Shark Stadium is a rather blah one for baseball, but it is pretty good accessibility wise. Even Mik felt strong enough about the accessibility to tell me after the game to make sure I said in the accessibility review that it is not a good baseball experience stadium, but it is a great accessibility experience. Of course, the really low attendance and lack of crowds helps with the accessibility working out good, but even with crowds the elevator situation should still be under control. I only think the companion row could cause a real issue for crowded games. Hopefully, the new Marlins Ballpark that is to open in 2012 can maintain and even improve the accessibility experience. It would be very sad if the ballpark improved the baseball experience and took a step backwards in accessibility.
The souvenir selection at the Marlins game stunk. The Team Shop is mostly about the football team that plays at Land Shark Stadium. I almost did not want a ball from here, but I ended up finding a somewhat interesting one with an Embroidered Marlins logo on it. It also has on it the MLB logo embroidered.
At Land Shark Stadium the concession stands were rather limited not just in the food variety choices but in the number of concession stands. I had a Papa Johns cheese personal size pizza. Mik tried it and we both agreed it was not that good and certainly did not taste fresh. We normally like Papa Johns and that is what I always order when I watch him for the weekend, but it is way fresher as delivery than here at the ballpark and I have a feeling it is not even made on site.
The main thing Mik had was chicken tenders with chips. He loved the chicken tenders and rates them one of the best he has had and definitely the best of the trip. He did not really like the Saratoga chips, though, because they were rather bland tasting. They also ended up soggy from being under the chicken tenders. Non-soggy and with more salt they might not have been too bad.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Our final game of the trip and our last ballpark in hindsight was not the optimal way to end a trip. Seriously I should have thought of it and about half way through the trip I kind of realized that ending here probably was not going to be that great of an end, but it is still awesome to have finished the trip even if it was at one of the most blah ballparks. Actually, it barely can even be called a ballpark. It is only one because the Marlins do still play here, but it is very much just Dolphin Stadium (technically now Land Shark Stadium, but still says Dolphin Stadium in a lot of places) and as that it is mostly about the football team. It is not as bad as the Metrodome, but it is not the best of the football/baseball stadiums either, as that honor goes to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The main thing that makes this not feel like a ballpark is that you walk off the elevator and onto the main concourse and the concourse is huge, as you expect at a football stadium. Of course, the expanse of empty upper deck seats all around give the same feel of it being way too big for the sport. The biggest down is that it really is deserted and shows that it is not for baseball.
There are few concession places open and way less than even at regular ballpark. That is partially obvious because they have a lot of concessions closed that only are for football season, but it is obvious that they do not need that many because the fan turn out is extremely minimal. Seriously, though, who wants to go to a game when the rain is often a possibility this time of year and if it is not raining it is miserably hot and humid. It was still humid tonight, but after the rain all day it was not as hot as it had been earlier this week for us in Florida, so surprising not too bad for an outdoor Florida game. However, it will be much better to go to a Marlins game in 2012 when they get their new ballpark, which they just broke ground for earlier this month. It will not only actually be built for baseball, but it will have a roof in the style of Safeco Field and Minute Maid Park.
There is a few good things about tonight's game and the main one is that it actually ended up being played completely with no rain delays. All day there were thunderstorms off and on up until only an hour before the game. I give the grounds crew and staff here big props for actually being very efficient and having the game start on time. So many parks do not actually have the top of the first start at game time and usually they are just finishing the pre game ceremonies and such as that time or the team is just taking the field to warm up for the inning. Here, though, they really did start the game at 7:10 with the actual first pitch to the opposing first batter.
One of the other good things was that it was actually a pretty good one. The pitching was not overall that superb, but the relievers did pretty good and for the most part it was decent. It was not a major slugfest, which personally I am kind of tired of, but there were some homers including 3 by the Marlins. The most exciting of the homers was the 3-run one hit by the Marlins starting pitcher. There was also some uniqueness of the Braves manager and catcher getting ejected. We never could figure out what they were arguing about, but I think it was that the catcher was called out at first on a double play and they thought he should have been safe.
Overall the Marlins game experience was pretty good, as the Marlins and Braves both have some good players worth watching. However, the ballpark experience is rather dull and makes it so obvious that the Dolphins do not want the Marlins here at all. For those that do not know the history between the two teams, the Dolphins own the stadium and told the Marlins back in like 2004 that they would kick them out in 2010 unless a ballpark is eminent. Not at the bottom of our ballpark experiences, as there are worse (Dodger Stadium, Skydome, Citi Field), but definitely close to the bottom.
Updated August 4, 2009: Added photos finally
The final game of the trip is over (will post game wrap up soon). Mik is happy it is over. He is just ready to go straight home, though, but one last stop in Texas at friends and then he will be stop complaining on this road trip. I have a feeling he will enjoy Texas, though, he just does not know and we are keeping the reason a secret until then.
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