Miami's new stadium: green building, poor transit

The Miami Marlins are pouring millions into a new green stadium, but will poor transit planning keep the stadium from filling up?

When the baseball season begins next spring, the Miami Marlins will have a shiny new green stadium to call home. But will poor transit planning keep the stadium from filling up?

At The Atlantic Cities, Eric Jaffe takes a look of the stadium's transit plan (or lack thereof):

With the season just a few months away, the stadium's transportation plan remains noticeably incomplete. Most fans will drive: roughly 5,000 garage spaces are intended for season ticketholders, and another 4,000 or so offsite spots will be available nearby. Still parking alone can't fill the 37,000-seat stadium, and the team expects a considerable number of fans to arrive by public transportation; its executive vice president of ballpark development recently said as much: "Everyone wants people to use public transit." But as of right now the team's transit strategy has received far less financial attention than its free agent signings.

And while the city's is taking some steps, transit seems like more of an afterthought:

At a late-October meeting to discuss stadium transportation, team officials stressed that many fans would arrive by bus and rail. But the three closest metro stations — Civic Center, Culmer, and Government Center — are nearly a mile, exactly a mile, and about a mile and a half away from the stadium, respectively. Ideally a number of bus lines would be extended to drop fans closer to the ballpark, and while the city intends to run trolleys up to the venue, "its trolley operations don't yet exist and a contract with an operator has yet to be signed," according to Miami Today. The team has done well in creating about 500 parking spaces for bicycles, but the bike infrastructure around the stadium remains undeveloped, aa Transit Miami has noted.

In a sport where there are often multiple home games each week, there's much less incentive for fans to show up if there isn't a good way to get to the game easily.

Maybe I'm jaded having grown up rooting for the Chicago Cubs with their "L" train stop right outside the stadium. But part of what makes a stadium like Wrigley Field so great is the surrounding neighborhood, with plenty of local establishments and people walking around taking in the scene. That can't happen on the same level if a stadium is surrounded by surface parking and few transit options. Football stadiums get away with their monster stadiums surrounded by parking lots because the games are only one day a week and usually on the weekends.

So while the Marlins are spending $8 million more on the stadium to get it to meet LEED standards , they're overlooking how thousands of people will travel to it for their 81 home games. It's not only environmentally unsustainable, it's economically unsustainable.

I cringe to think of how empty that 37,000-seat stadium will feel on a weekday afternoon of a bad season without a better transit plan.

"Miami Marlins Risk Dropping the Ball on Transit" [Atlantic Cities]

Photo: Miamism/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com