Miami Marlins ballpark transit and parking not fully mapped
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Metrorail and Metrobus are being relied upon to carry a large percentage of fans to and from games at the new Marlins baseball stadium, but with opening day April 4, much of the parking and transportation for the 81 home games still remain uncertain.
Although parking built for the ballpark will be limited, says Claude Delorme, the team's executive vice president of ballpark development, between lawn and driveway parking, biking, walking and public transportation, ample modes are available.
"People's experience at venues starts and ends with parking," he told a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce discussion of the transportation and infrastructure of the ballpark last week. "If it takes 45 minutes to go the last half mile, people might turn away."
Mr. Delorme said plans are to make it as smooth as possible.
The 4,713 parking spots in four garages with eight entry lanes and 826 spaces in six lots for the 37,000-seat stadium, he said, will cater to season ticketholders, players and staff. At full house, he said, the stadium would need 11,000 parking spaces.
Miami Marlins season ticketholders, Mr. Delorme said, will receive parking permits only for home games. Other events at the stadium will distribute parking passes separately, he said. The team controls all stadium events.
Although parking garage space is limited, Mr. Delorme said off-site parking, including lawns and driveways, will provide about 4,000 spaces.
Construction of the four garages, he said, should be substantially completed by December.
To aid traffic flow, Mr. Delorme said, some streets surrounding the stadium will close on game days. He said Northwest 16th and Fourth streets will close three hours prior to the start of games. After games, he said, traffic should get back on Northwest 12th and 14th streets and Flagler.
Twelve taxis are to be lined up on game days, and Northwest Sixth and 12th streets will be reserved for limousines, Mr. Delorme said. He said the goal is to take pressure off main thoroughfares.
"We are continuing to work with police and Miami Parking Authority," Mr. Delorme said. "It is important to have a plan that everyone participates in and goes along with."
Marlins and transportation officials will meet from November to March to try and figure out how to staff the games with police, Mr. Delorme said.
The City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and South Florida Regional Transportation Authority are creating a joint effort to provide safe, reliable transportation to and from the stadium, said Ysela Llort, interim director of the Miami-Dade Transit.
"Mass transit is the best way to get around," she said.
Public transit, especially Metrorail, was a main mode of transportation discussed at the meeting, with the Civic Center and Culmer stations expected to be the most heavily used.
The walk to the ballpark from the Civic Center Metrorail Station is a shade less than a mile and from Culmer Metrorail Station to the ballpark a full mile.
Metrorail service is to run pre-game 5:30-7 p.m., with trains every 15 minutes, and post-game from 9:30 p.m.-12 a.m., with trains every 30 minutes.
Miami-Dade Transit has requested a grant through the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority to the Federal Transit Administration for a shuttle from Culmer Metrorail Station to the ballpark, Ms. Llort said, which would take users directly to the ballpark. It has yet to receive the OK.
"The grant, called JARC (Job Access & Reverse Commute), could pay 50% of the cost and it would have to be matched locally or with state money," she said.
This shuttle would run from 5:30 p.m. until an hour after a game. Pre-game, Ms. Llort said, about eight buses are to run every four minutes, and post-game about 10 buses will run an average of every three minutes. Each trip takes 15 minutes.
Another still-unfunded shuttle service is planned from the Government Center Metrorail Station to the ballpark, Ms. Llort said.
Besides shuttles and the Metrorail, she said, five Metrobus routes are within walking distance of the stadium.
Route 7 runs weekdays 4:48 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends 5:54 a.m. to 10:20 p.m. Route 11 runs 24 hours, weekdays and weekends. Route 12 runs weekdays 4:40 a.m. to 12:36 a.m. the next day and weekends 5:36 a.m. to 12:20 a.m. the next day. Route 17 runs weekdays 4:44 a.m. to 12:53 a.m. the next day and weekends 4:58 a.m. to 12:29 a.m. the next day. Route 51 Flagler MAX runs weekdays only, 5:01 a.m. to 9:20 p.m.
Ms. Llort said Miami-Dade Transit is looking into enhancing those five routes on game days.
The City of Miami, she said, plans trolley service on game days from the Health District, though its trolley operations don't yet exist and a contract with an operator has yet to be signed.
The city will also offer bicycle-friendly infrastructure and provide bikeways to the ballpark, she said.
Mr. Delorme predicted that 1% of attendees — staff and locals included — will bike to the stadium and that 1,800 people will walk in from residential areas.
Tri-Rail is considering extending service on game days, Mr. Llort said. Tri-Rail would supplement Miami-Dade Transit's service by adding an extra northbound train connecting with the last northbound Metrorail train, she said.
Ms. Llort said those taking public transportation to the ballpark should buy EASY Cards in advance to help beat the crowd on game day.
"We want to avoid a Black Friday scenario," she said. "We want it to be easy, convenient and welcoming."
While the Marlins have been talking for years about water taxis along the Miami River to the stadium, Mr. Delorme said it might not happen in 2012 or 2013. He said docks would need to be built, but that the river is less than four-tenths of a mile from the stadium. He said he's committed to make the water taxi a reality.
"Everyone wants people to use public transit," Mr. Delorme said, "and we want everyone to get to the venue in a safe manor."
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