Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida Marlins playoff chances have been over for a long time, but the last official series for the Marlins starts Monday night against the Washington Nationals.
It’s the final time the Marlins will ever call Sun Life Stadium their home field. The team is set to move into a brand new stadium in Little Havana next season.
Wednesday’s season-ending game against the Washington Nationals will also be the final time the Florida Marlins ever take the field. Starting November 11, the team will be renamed the Miami Marlins in honor of playing in their new stadium in Miami.
The Marlins stay in Sun Life Stadium has been full of ups and downs, with the most recent years consisting of hardly anyone in the stands and the cheapest payroll in all of baseball.
The Marlins say both of those facts will change in the new stadium, but that remains to be seen.
The Marlins have played the franchise’s first 19 seasons at the stadium known now as Sun Life Stadium. The team said people dislike sitting in a football stadium to watch baseball, especially in stifling South Florida heat and the constant threat of rain.
There’s also the pesky little fact of consistently putting out one of the worst teams in baseball the last several years that tends to drive fans away.
The Fish stay at Sun Life has seen the stadium go through seven different name changes including: Joe Robbie Stadium; Pro Player Park; Pro Player Stadium; Dolphins Stadium; Dolphin Stadium; Land Shark Stadium; and now Sun Life Stadium.
But for as much complaining as the Marlins and their fans have made about Sun Life Stadium, it holds special memories for the team. The franchise has been to the playoffs infrequently, but when they did in 1997 and 2003, the team won the World Series both times.
Still, fans remember the Marlins ownership now for a stadium deal financed chiefly on taxpayer money at a time when governments everywhere are tightening their belts. Fans also remember the current ownership for imploding the franchise in 2005.
Since the franchise was intentionally torpedoed in 2005, the team has been the laughing-stock of baseball based on inept ownership, poor play, and some of the worst attendance in the majors.
The Marlins have also made a mockery of managers going through a new one almost each season. Last season, the Marlins fired Fredi Gonzalez midseason. Gonzalez went on to take over the Atlanta Braves and has the Braves on the cusp of the wild card berth in the National League.
The Marlins and hardcore baseball fans will bid farewell to Sun Life Stadium and say good riddance.
But unless the team follows the example of the Miami Heat and decides to really spend some money this season, the new stadium better be the Ritz-Carlton of stadiums to get fans out to see a team coming off being the worst team in the National League East in 2011.
The Marlins have announced that the team will give away autographed and game-used memorabilia during Wednesday’s final game at Sun Life. The team will also unveil the Florida Marlins All-Time team as voted on by the fans and the top 10 Marlins memories on Wednesday.
The first pitch of the final game at Sun Life Stadium is set for 4:10 p.m. on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals.