The Florida Marlins kickoff their 2011 season against the New York Mets tonight, and while the game marks the last, first game the Fish will play at Sun Life Stadium, their home tank over the past 18 years, it may be the final home opener the Marlins have until 2013.
A source close to the construction site of the Marlins new ballpark in Little Havana is telling Riptide that delays are threatening the team's plan of opening the 2012 season at their new home. Given the fact their lease at Sun Life is up at the end of the 2011 season could mean the fish will be "out of water" next year, homeless.
"I'm (at the construction site) every day, and after 30-years of running my own construction business, I can tell you from experience that the Marlins' stadium may not be ready in time for next year's season," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Following the devastation in Japan, and the ongoing turmoil in Libya, construction crews have had difficulty obtaining imported materials necessary to complete the ballpark by 2012 -- steel from Japan, Libyan infield clay, and enough koi fish for two backstop aquariums.
If in fact the Marlins new ballpark is not ready for the 2012 season, MLB bylaws mandate the team forfeits the home-half of their season, 81-games. If they were to win-out the 81 remaining away games, and make the playoffs, "home-field advantage" is automatically diverted to the team with a proper stadium. The homeless club would have to seek temporary shelter at an MLB-approved, regulation size ballpark within 50-miles of their "home field."
It's a sticky situation for the Marlins, but longtime season ticket holder, and "biggest Marlins fan en Hialeah," Benito Camela says, "I no worried about next year, I very worried about this year. We need to fucus on the playoffs and win another World Series."
Fingers crossed the Marlins go all the way, and their new home is finished in time for a repeat.