Ahead of opening day, Marlins appear to ditch fish tanks and add disinfecting drone

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

Here’s a fish tale to ponder: those signature fish tanks behind home plate at Marlins Park since it opened in 2012 apparently will be gone this season.

But that’s not the only change as the franchise puts the finishing touches on cleaning up for opening day and preparing for socially distanced fans.

In keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, Marlins Park, a place that unintentionally perfected social distancing with its scant attendance of recent years, will be disinfected by a drone this season.

The park has a maximum capacity of 37,442 fans, but the Marlins average 10,000 per game in 209 and 2018, last in the majors each year. This year, capacity is limited to 25%, about 9,300 fans.

You probably know the Marlins hired Kim Ng, Major League Baseball’s first female general manager.

And on Saturday from 3-8 p.m., the organization holds its “Leading Off” event at Marlins Park, which will welcome fans for the first time since 2019.

“Leading Off” will have a limited capacity of 2,500 fans. But admission and parking will be free.

Some who attend will have the opportunity to run the bases, play catch on the field, throw in a speed pitch event, hit in batting cages and have their kids participate in a home run derby. On-field activities require a Field Pass, which can be found online.

Plus, there will be a behind-the-scenes look at the clubhouse and tour of the Biscayne Bay Brew Hall.

Finally, the arrow seems to be pointing upward for the Marlins, a franchise with two World Series titles (1999 and 2003).

The ownership group led by Bruce Sherman and baseball legend Derek Jeter, which took over in August 2017, led the Marlins to the playoffs last season for the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2003.

The Marlins even won a wildcard series, defeating the Chicago Cubs before losing to the Atlanta Braves in a division playoff series.

By the way, if the fish are tanked, they’d be the latest in a series of stadium alterations since Sherman and Jeter took charge.

The Clevelander, one of America’s few in-stadium sports bars with a swimming pool and scantily-clad dancing women?


The 76-foot home run sculpture in centerfield?


Thank goodness that remarkable view of downtown Miami is still plainly visible through the massive glass windows beyond left field.

But perhaps all of these changes are for the best.

The fish tanks — 24 feet long, 36 inches deep, holding 450 gallons of saltwater behind 1 1/4 u00bd-inch shatterproof glass — were never traditional Major League Baseball décor.

Then again, the Marlins, with their impressive retractable roof facility on the site of the hallowed Orange Bowl in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood and paltry attendance numbers, have hardly been a traditional Major League Baseball franchise.

Here’s hoping 2021 features another playoff appearance.

Miami’s season opener is April 1 against Tampa Bay at Marlins Park.

Play ball.