Pro Player Stadium, a privately funded facility, opened in 1987 as Joe Robbie Stadium,
originally the home of the Miami Dolphins. This facility now also serves as the home of the
Florida Marlins. In addition to being the home venue for two teams, Pro Player also is the
host facility for the Orange Bowl, and three Super Bowls have been played here since the
building opened.

Getting to the stadium -
The stadium is located midway between the cities of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, and is
accessible via several interstates and the Florida Turnpike. Being in a suburban setting,
the property is pretty much self-contained, with massive parking lots surrounding the
building and really no neighborhood to speak of. We can imagine that on a football Sunday
these lots are an ocean of tailgate parties. The grounds are handsomely landscaped, and
attractive orange canopies and teal accents add to an architecturally striking building. In
each corner are circular ramps which are centered by two escalators, one serving the club
level and the other to take you to the top of the building.

The concourses -
Upon entering the stadium (we had to remove our hats, operate our cell phone and snap a
photo with our camera for the security guys at the gate), one walks up one level to the
main concourse, not very spacious, but well lit and painted in bright colors - blue, yellow
and orange, and the concourses are decorated with colorful flags and many back lit ad
panels. Multiple concession stands and numerous team stores can be found on the 100
level. A sparse kids zone is located past right field. There are hospitality tents on the
outside offering pregame fare and entertainment, and on Saturday nights it is Latino night,
with latin music, entertainment and even free salsa dance lessons. Darn! Missed that one
by a day!

Premium seating -
Being an '80s venue, Pro Player Stadium really set the trend in building a separate club and
suite level and coming up with the concept of premium seats served by its own private
concourse. Here the Marlins restrict access as well to all but 200 level ticket holders,
which was too bad for most here on this damp night as that was the only area where one
could find seats under cover.

In addition to the club level, Pro Player has 2 levels of suites ringing the entire building. A
stadium club restaurant looks over the outfield, although it was closed on this night, and
access is only available to premium ticket holders. Copying a new trend in Major League
Baseball, a few rows of super premium seats, called "Founders Club" seats, are in the first
few rows from dugout to dugout, and sell for $55 each. For comparison, the cheapest
seats, called "The Fish Tank", can be had for a mere $4, and are in the top rows of the
upper deck.

The seating bowl-
Lower, club, suites and two upper decks - however, this stadium's seating capacity for
baseball is diminished to just over 36,000 for baseball in that upper deck seats in the
outfields are not sold, and the entire 100 level in the left field is collapsed and walled over
to accommodate the ballpark's dimensions (434 feet to left centerfield - good grief!). The
left field wall is adorned with a scoreboard and out of town scoreboard for American and
National Leagues. They try to mimic a quaint retro scoreboard but here it doesn't seem to
fit with the decor. Two massive jumbotron scoreboards hang high above the building, one
above third base and the other beyond right field (what would be the end zones in a
football configuration). The seats are colored orange and teal - Miami Dolphins team
colors. Backlit ad panels surround the seating bowl along the balcony, and in the right field
(end zone) is one massive ad panel which changes ads in uniform synchronization.

Concessions -
The ultimate in ballpark dreck. The concession stands all have different names, yet pump
out the same standard fare. If you look hard, you can find some specialty items on the menu
- cuban sandwiches, conch fritters, jamaican meat. A couple of nice outdoor bars, called
"High Tides" are tucked away in the outer part of the 100 level concourse, and in addition
to tropical drinks, there you can find a video wall high above the bar with multiple monitors
showing sporting events via Direct TV (Empire Sports Network was on showing the Sabres/
Sens game)

Banners/retired numbers -
The hallowed names that hang here are those of the Miami Dolphins, and we will report in
greater detail on these when we return for a football game. Suffice to say if you are a
Buffalo Bills fan and were around for the "0 for the '70s", this lineup is enough to give you
indigestion.
The Marlins display their 1997 World Championship banner next to the left field foul pole.
With all due respect to former Marlins executive Ken Lehner, now with the Carolina
Hurricanes, please accept apologies from the roadtrippers right now that we did not get all
goose bumps and teary eyed. By the way, Marlins, where is Jackie Robinson's #42???
Pro Player Stadium also has a "Hall of Champions", tucked somewhere in the club level. We
love stuff like this and would have liked to tour it, but it was not open, and no information
was available.

Extra points
-Marlins en Miami is a team shop located in the heart of the latin community. The team has
a massive marketing presence towards this demographic, and broadcasts games in english
and in spanish. They even have an educational program for women which is called "Marlins
Senoritas".

-No ex-Bisons on the Marlins roster. Marc Bombard, former Bisons manager and now
manager for the AAA Scranton/WB Red Barons, was coaching third base for the Phillies,
obviously he was a post season call up. We assume that Andrew Lorraine didn't join him on
the trek to Philly, too busy packing up his apartment in Calgary (inside humor you would
have to be a Bisons fan to understand this).

Summary
Our take on this venue might be affected somewhat in that we came on a bad night, in
which the weather was dismal and this massive building was practically empty. Under
normal circumstances the game would probably have been called, but since the Phillies
are in a pennant race and the forecast for the weekend looked shaky, all efforts were made
to get this game in. We were grateful, since a rainout would have meant that this game
would NOT have counted towards our quest.

But the game did get played, and with the Phillies leading in the 5th, we needed the Marlins
to complete the inning so the game would be "official". The rain really started to get heavy
- there were 2 outs and 2 men on, and we began the rhythmic clapping to get that third out.
Then Phillies skipper Larry Bowa comes out of the dugout to argue something with the
umpire, probably about the rain and game conditions. "Sit down Larry, your team is
leading!".

The game resumed, the out was recorded, and we high fived each other.... venue #93 and
our 29th MLB venue was now officially in the books.

By the way, the Marlins came back from a 5-1 deficit to pull out a 6-5 win the bottom of the
10th... Ten innings... it rained the whole time.

OK, it is editorial time... This is a FOOTBALL stadium. Therefore there is little we can
present to you in terms of great ideas or things that would make a baseball experience
special here. Pro Player is configured for football, right from the parking areas for
tailgating, to the rectangular configuration, to the team colors, to the scoreboards. The
Marlins come in here and have tried to make a go of it, but no matter how they spruce this
building up, it simply reeks of Dolphins teal and orange and nothing is going to change
that....The Marlins have plans for a new baseball only stadium on the drawing board, and it
would go right next to the American Airlines Arena on the downtown waterfront. The
Florida legislature, however, is balking on paying for it, and plans are stalled. And in the
midst of all this is the looming labor situation and whispers of "contraction".

Make no mistake... Pro Player Stadium ranks low in terms of being a baseball experience.
We can't wait to return... for a Dolphins game, and our rating will undoubtedly be much
higher then.

SCORING:
Architecture 3
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 3
Ushers 5
Fan support 3
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 6.5
In game entertainment 4
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: $4 Fish Tank seats 2; Marlins
en espanol 2

Total: 45.5
Sun Life Stadium
#91   



Pro Player
Stadium             



Miami,
Florida




September 28,
2001                   



PhiladelphiaPhillies
at
Florida
Marlins



renamed
LandShark
Stadium
May, 2009