Hurricane Irma is on track to make landfall in South Florida on Sunday morning, so the Marlins are taking every precaution they can to protect their stadium.
The Marlins have held daily meetings to discuss storm preparations Tuesday, according to the Sun Sentinel. Marlins Park opened in 2012 and was built to withstand a Category 4 storm with winds up to 156 miles per hour. Irma was a Category 5 storm upon hitting the Caribbean Islands on Wednesday, but it’s expected to fall to a Category 4 by the time it reaches Miami.
The business and ballpark operations staff came up with several plans to protect the stadium and everything inside it. Among them, they will protect the stadium concourse’s bobblehead museum by dressing everything in bubblewrap:
Inside Marlins Park, there will be plenty of housekeeping to do, particularly Thursday: reduce the water levels of and protect with wood panels the aquariums behind home plate; dress the bobblehead museum on the concourse in bubblewrap; disconnect and cover the ATMs; ensure all drains are clear and concessions are locked up.
Interestingly, the Marlins will keep the park’s retractable roof partially open:
That roof, however, will be ajar in several spots — a 16-foot gap on the east side, a 10-foot gap in the center and a 10-foot gap on the west side.
“It allows the air and the pressure to come inside the ballpark and eventually leave the ballpark,” Delorme said. “It avoids putting a lot of uplift on the roof. It was designed that way so we wouldn’t get any major damage to our roof.”
The 9,300-pound roof will be tied down with 56 large steel anchors.
“Even with the pressure and the winds, once you lock it in, that roof isn’t moving,” Delorme said.
The Marlins play in Atlanta this weekend and in Philadelphia at the start of next week, so they won’t have to worry about cancellations (or relocations) unless the stadium sustains damage that cannot be repaired before next Friday’s game against the Brewers, or if the city itself remains in a state of emergency precluding things like baseball games. The ballpark staff has already begun installing flood gates at the stadium’s entrances, which will provide protection against flooding up to 10 feet above sea level.
Should it be necessary, Marlins vice president of operations Claude Delorme told the Sun Sentinel the franchise would accommodate the community by turning the stadium into a shelter:
“The only way the county would ask us is if it was a major catastrophe, a Category 4 or 5 and the city was shut down and they needed to accommodate so many people and were looking for facilities,” Delorme said. “By all means, we would be accommodating.”
On Wednesday, the Marlins hosted the final game of their homestand against the Nationals. Sure, they’ve had attendance problems for years, but the vast number of empty seats in the following picture captured by Nationals broadcaster Dan Kolko shows how seriously people in South Florida are going about storm preparations:
A game will be played here in 15 minutes…and I cannot blame anyone in the Miami area for not attending. Bigger things to worry about. pic.twitter.com/IonWRBnkHC
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) September 6, 2017