11/13/09 11:46 AM EST
New stadium creating jobs in Miami
More than 1,000 workers will be on site by mid-2010
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Putting people to work was a major selling point that helped local officials vote in favor of building the Marlins a new ballpark.
Construction began on July 1 on the Orange Bowl grounds in the Little Havana section of Miami. An increase in the number of workers on the site can be seen as more of the structure emerges from the ground.
When Marlins president David Samson toured the grounds on Wednesday, there were 220 workers on hand. The number is expected to increase to 500 by the end of December, and in the early-to-mid part of 2010, the figure will rise to more than 1,000.
"If you went on the site like I did today, you can't go three feet without bumping into a worker," Samson said. "I can't imagine what it would be like with 1,000 people on the site."
In a down economy, the 37,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark is being looked upon to create new growth in the community. Early in the year, when the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County commissioners voted in favor of the project, the goal was to have at least 35 percent local workers.
The county set a standard of goals for inclusion of small businesses, and Samson noted that figure already has more than doubled.
"As far as local participation, for October, 59 percent of all firms who have worked on the project so far are from Miami-Dade County," Samson said.
Construction is moving at a steady pace, and the building remains on schedule and on budget. The plan is for workers to take one day off at Thanksgiving, one day off for Christmas and another for New Year's Day.
"Aside from that, they are working every day," Samson said.
The search for a ballpark marketing center also continues. This week, progress was made on that front.
"We've narrowed it down to two locations," Samson said. "We've gone through two or three different designs for this area that will serve as a meeting area for people who, over the next two years, will get to know this new ballpark."
The marketing center will help educated fans about the new ballpark, while offering information on suites and ticket packages.
The progression of the ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2012, can be followed via a webcam on www.marlins.com.
Coming soon to the Web site will be a second camera, providing another angle of construction.
"In addition to the current camera that is up now, we hope by the end of December that there will be one on the south super column," Samson said. "We'll really get the view of every angle of this ballpark being built."
It was a busy week in terms of construction, as concrete was poured between two super columns on the north side. The concrete is serving as the base for the track beams, which will be built on the ground and lifted on top of the super columns.
In all, eight super columns and four tree columns are rising. They will eventually support the roof.
"Those track beams are for the roof," Samson said. "It's a huge undertaking that had to start this week, and it's started on time."
"By the end of December, all eight super columns will be up, and four special tree columns on the west side will start to get higher than they are now. Already on the webcam, you will see the outline of the bowl. The main concourse will start to show in the next two months. The columns are being built from the administration level to the main concourse. So you're seeing the form of the ballpark taking shape."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.