01/03/11 10:49 AM EST
New events to come with New Marlins Ballpark
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Since their inception, the Marlins have shared their home with a football team.
In 2012, the club will be moving into a new baseball-specific ballpark, but that doesn't mean it will be completely separating itself from football.
Configurations in the building are such that the retractable-roof stadium can also be a host site to football as well as soccer, concerts and numerous other events.
With this being the college football bowl season, there already are visions of the Marlins' new home playing host to a smaller-scale football game.
"We're prepared to host football games," Samson said. "We're prepared to host soccer games. We're prepared to host home shows, boat shows, trade shows, baseball tournaments, college baseball tournaments and concerts.
"All of these things can happen in all different shapes and sizes, because we've got the roof, we've got air conditioning. It makes it a very attractive place for events."
During the holiday season, there already have been several football games played in baseball parks. Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, recently was the site of the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 21. And AT&T Park in San Francisco hosts the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
The first Pinstripe Bowl game was played last Thursday at Yankee Stadium. And in November, Northwestern played Illinois in a regular-season game at Wrigley Field.
Because the Marlins' new ballpark in the Little Havana section of Miami will seat 37,000, the facility won't be large enough for a major bowl game. But it would be attractive for smaller-scale football games, such as the Under Armour All-American High School Game, which is being played at Tropicana Field.
"There have been a tremendous amount of inquires already to do events in the new ballpark," Samson said. "We're beginning to put together an events calendar. The reason we cannot book anything right now is because we need to make sure we finish on time.
"Right now, we're absolutely going to be on time. But until everything is done, we want to be very careful. We still have one hurricane season left to go. So we don't want to book any event and then have to cancel it."
Entering the new year is a reminder that 2011 will be the Marlins' final season at Sun Life Stadium, the park they've shared with the Miami Dolphins since 1993. The University of Miami football team also calls the stadium home.
"Our game countdown is down to 81, and it's going to go very quickly," Samson said. "This new ballpark is opening in a little over a year. Some preparations we're making right now are really towards the opening of the ballpark."
All stages of the stadium construction can be viewed via the Marlins New Ballpark web cam.
In the first quarter of the new year, the Marlins hope to finalize a naming-rights partner for the stadium. An announcement appears to be at least a couple of months away.
Additionally, there will be four quadrant naming-rights partners, for the red, green, blue and yellow quadrants.
"We're down the road with three companies," Samson said of the naming-rights partner search. "For the four quadrants, we're down the road with seven companies. I feel very confident where we are as far as when companies come down and see our new park. When they seen our vision come to life, they are excited to come on board. Now, we're really just talking about specifics in both the financial parameters and the activation parameters.
"There will be four quadrant partners -- we've got the red, green, blue and yellow. There will be companies who will name those quadrants, plus a naming rights partner for the whole ballpark."
The organization also is working towards the rebranding of the Marlins.
After the 2011 baseball season, the franchise will officially be renamed the "Miami Marlins." At that time, the team will unveil its new uniforms and logo.
"We're spending a lot of time working on the marketing of the new ballpark, the new uniforms, the new logo and all of the different things," Samson said. "When we release it to our fans, it will look like it's a spontaneous effort. But the fact is, it's taken a lot of time and effort."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.