While Marlins Park is gorgeous, with clean lines, a sleek, refined design along with all of the bells and whistles, one feature has always been a point of criticism: the sculpture behind the left-center field wall.
When news broke that a Derek Jeter-led group is set to acquire the Marlins from longtime and embattled owner Jeffrey Loria, MLB reporter Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports made it clear that the new ownership group would likely attempt to get rid of the gimmicky item.
“One thing someone connected to the Jeter group has suggested will likely go: the home run sculpture in left-center field that was designed by artist Red Grooms and has been the subject of controversy,” Heyman wrote.
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However, that idea will likely never come to fruition for one unfortunate reason.
The 73-foot sculpture that sends marlins and flamingos back and forth whenever a Marlins player hits a home run was commissioned as part of Miami-Dade’s Art in Public Places program. Therefore, the sculpture, designed by artist Red Grooms, cost $2.5 million and, just like Marlins Park as a whole, is owned by Miami-Dade’s government, as reported by Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald. Thus, there's a very obvious roadblock.
"The County commissioned and purchased the Home Run Sculpture with the public art funds generated by the ballpark project," Michael Spring, head of the county's cultural affairs department, told Hanks in an email Thursday. It "was designed specifically for this project and location and is permanently installed. It is not moveable.”
The sculpture has been a source of criticism since the park was initially revealed to the public, but it appears as though it will remain a feature for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen whether or not Jeter and his ownership group can come to some sort of deal with the government if ridding the field of the bling is a goal. In 2013, the sculpture made news when it was revealed that it cost more than 22 of the team's 25 player salaries combined, thus making it the fourth-highest paid Marlin that season.
In order to get the sculpture down in a creative way, the team could always task slugger Giancarlo Stanton to knock it down with a slew of line drive home runs. At his current pace, he might be able to make that happen. Plus, if he gets fined, he'd be able to afford it, as he signed a $325 million fully-guaranteed deal a few years ago.
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