Marlins Stadium Morass: We Race From Downtown by Bike, Kayak, and Rickshaw

Marlins Stadium Morass: We Race From Downtown by Bike, Kayak, and Rickshaw
Illustration by Mike Ray

The early reviews were dire. Like Ghost Rider 2 awful. Fans hoping to drive to the new Marlins Park, the Miami Herald warned, would face Mad Max traffic barbarity and waits for parking comparable only to Soviet breadlines.

See, Miami's finest minds failed to consider how the masses would actually get to the gleaming silver stadium in Little Havana they paid $360 million in taxes to build. In a neighborhood that's a public transit black hole, the Marlins included only about 5,000 new parking spots for the 37,000-seat ballpark.

But how bad could it really be? There was only one way to find out: an epic race to Marlins Park.

Ready, set, go.
Jacob Katel
Ready, set, go.

Location Info

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Marlins Park

1380 NW 6th St.
Miami, FL 33125

Category: Retail

Region: Little Havana

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So we hauled our Schwinn out of the closet, called up Coconut Grove's Spider-Man rickshaw pilot, dusted off our kayak, and, yeah, bought some potato sacks. Our fastest Volkswagen was gassed up, and we scoped out a route by Metrorail and trolley.

Half an hour before the first pitch on opening night, we assembled outside the Miami-Dade Public Library on West Flagler Street in downtown Miami, about a mile and a half from the ballpark. Who would prevail?

Team Bike: Tim Elfrink, managing editor

Time: 14 minutes

This is what victory looks like: a purple 1968 Schwinn Varsity, its curved handlebars wrapped in sky-blue tape. Made of steel (or lead maybe?), it weighs more than a Toyota Prius. Yes. It is glorious.

On the survivability index, I usually rank a rush-hour, downtown bike ride somewhere between fighting a bear with a laser strapped to its forehead and hiking sans pants to the North Pole. I was terrified. True to form, at the very first stoplight, a woman on her cell phone pulled a move I call the "Miami swipe:" a blind right turn on red, executed at full speed with no signal. The Schwinn's 44-year-old brakes squealed like Heath Bell at a buffet — but they held.

After that brush with death, though, the rest of the race was — dare I say? — really relaxing. Fading sunlight sparkled off the Miami River as I inhaled the smell of Garcia's grilled conch. After narrowly outracing the NW Fifth Street drawbridge, traffic was light through Little Havana's leafy side streets.

And then there it was. Marlins Park. There are only two tiny bike racks at the Third Base entrance — and five cycles were already crammed in. So I locked up to a stop sign, ran to the gate, and prayed Miamians were on their least felonious behavior.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Team Car: Gus Garcia-Roberts, senior staff writer

Time: 20 minutes

This is the way I pictured the race would go down: I would speed like Ryan Gosling in Drive to the stadium, where I would jam the steering wheel left, tumble out of the moving vehicle, leap into the air as the winner, and then hop back into the driver's seat. Here's how it really happened: I got stuck on the bridge on NW Fifth Street. Whereas the little French boy on the bicycle was able to ignore traffic laws, I had to do a whole bunch of time-consuming maneuvering.

Trying to find parking near the stadium was like playing blackjack. There were plenty of free spots six or seven blocks away. Five blocks away, some hustler was charging only $2 to park in a driveway. But you keep thinking you'll find a free spot just a bit closer. Before you know it, the locals are charging $30 and you can't just do a U-turn because the street is crawling with cops.

I found an unoccupied meter on NW 12th Avenue. It was broken, with its screen reading an eerie "6666," which seemed appropriate given the taxpayers' role in the occasion.

Free parking, two blocks from the stadium! I sprinted to the park, the journey having taken me exactly 20 minutes. I still placed second behind the bicyclist. That pinko.

Team Rickshaw: Ciara LaVelle, arts and culture editor, and Michael E. Miller, staff writer

Time: 32 minutes

"Chicks dig the rickshaw," proclaimed Shaun, New Times' human Clydesdale for the afternoon. As he donned sunglasses, yanked up his spandex Spider-Man suit, and hoisted his American flag-draped buggy, we had second thoughts. "We might not get there first, but we're going to have the most fun," Shaun added ominously. "That's for sure."

To prove it, he spun his chariot in concentric circles as passersby hooted, "Hell, yeah, Spider-Man!" He leaped off walls, slalomed between trees, and popped a massive wheelie that left him dangling six feet in the air from the handles. Game on.

Shaun soon hit his stride, his sneakers slapping pavement as he passed bewildered bridge dwellers and muddled motorists. The Miami River was a blur of blue and gold.

We got caught behind the drawbridge, and once it raised, Shaun sprinted across in a last-ditch effort to win — only to stop, confused, at a five-way intersection. He wheeled into a garage to ask for directions. A chorus of oil-drenched mechanics hollered while Shaun spun 360s.

Marlins Park suddenly emerged. Shaun picked up the pace, weaving between oncoming cars and toothless old men advertising parking. Children stared and cheered. We whizzed past skeptical cops, slushy vendors, and a giant inflatable Billy the Marlin.

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9 comments
StadiumRIP
StadiumRIP

Yay Frankie, beat that kayacking SOB! You get the bike next time make the loser pull the boat

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

riding on the bus, sitting next to bums, there is a open seat, hope that isint pee.

Miami Ninja
Miami Ninja

And good luck getting past all the Cuban-American protesters there in the wake of good ole Ozzie Guillen's Pro-Fidel Castro comments!

roly
roly

This article is pure genius. Lolled

Juan R. Pollo
Juan R. Pollo

No mention of how the driver got from the starting point to his car. That would have taken at least 10 minutes. Shoot, all of you could have just walked.

Drake Mallard
Drake Mallard

Welcome to the American dream--a billionaire using public fundsto constructa private playgroundfor the rich and powerful.

David Samson told a local business council that he thinks Miamians are stupid. Samson talked with WSVN to clarify his remarks. Don't worry guys, he doesn't think Miamians are especially stupid. He wants to clarify that he thinks Americans are just stupid and lazy in genera

 
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