BY KAYLA GATES
For Miami Marlins fans, watching the home run sculpture whirl to life is an iconic part of attending a game. However, after a recent agreement with the county, the team has planned to move the statue from the field to outside the stadium entirely.
The sculpture, nicknamed “Homer,” was designed by artist Red Grooms, who constructed the 73-foot-high display in 2012. Former Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, approved the addition under a $2 million contract with Miami-Dade County, which currently owns the piece.
The statue, which highlights key characteristics of South Florida, has become a well-known image associated with Marlins games. Each time the team scores a home run, it illuminates and moves, hence the name “Homer.” Mechanical marlins jump out of blue waters, and brightly colored flamingos flap their wings under palm trees. The scene can be observed throughout the stadium as a player rounds the bases, causing fans to applaud.
However, with former baseball player Derek Jeter purchasing the team in 2017, major changes have been underway. Jeter has planned one of the most significant changes to the stadium since he acquired his position. The county board approved his idea to dismantle the sculpture and move it outside, a focal point for the new art walk being constructed. “Homer” will come to life at 3:05 p.m.every day, for Miami’s iconic 305 area code, where anyone can observe it.
As for the newly acquired space the move will bring, the team has plans for more renovations. The area will become a multilevel spectator lounge, with room for about 400 people. The space will not contain seats, allowing people to enjoy the game standing, all at an affordable price. Jeter hopes to improve viewer experience, specifically targeting the younger generation. The stadium attendance rates are currently the worst in Major League Baseball, so the team hopes to attract more fans with the change.
“I like baseball, but it is a hard sport to watch,” freshman Tegan Ford said. “Teams need to work on making games more exciting.”
However, the move has also inspired backlash from many. Grooms, who is responsible for constructing “Homer,” has voiced his criticism of the decision. The artists believes that moving the sculpture would be destroying it, and stands by his plea to keep it on the field. The county has resisted the change as well, only recently approving Jeter’s plan after multiple failed attempts. Miami-Dade has ultimately decided to greenlight the project, giving the team a year to move the sculpture. The Marlins will be required to pay $2,000 a day if “Homer” isn’t back up by January 1, 2020.
As for Marlins fans, the announcement has generated mixed emotions. While some may understand the reasoning behind the change, there are others who are still resistant to it. Either way, fans on both sides can agree that moving “Homer” will not affect their loyalty to the Miami Marlins.
“I like the stadium, but I think all stadiums need to be changed and enhanced overtime,” teacher and baseball fan Briana Bullard said. “If that’s the change [the team] wants to make, I think that’s okay.”
Photo courtesy of The New Tropic