By Eric Schmidt

The Miami Marlins rolled out what was called a “soft-opening” of their stadium yesterday as they hosted the New York Yankees in a spring training matchup. The New York Yankees and especially, Alex Rodriguez give the new facility a big thumbs up. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had great reviews for the new stadium, but Alex Rodriguez got emotional. Rodriguez grew up in Miami and attended Westminster Christian High School in Miami.

I don’t want to be corny or cheesy because it is a spring training game and all that, but for me this is a very special day. To be able to grow up in these streets, in these square blocks….I never imagined, as a child, that such a beautiful stadium would be built in the middle of Miami. So I’m very prod of the city of Miami and the Marlins to be able to achieve this in my hometown,” Rodriguez told reporters after the exhibition contest. “This is kind of like,’Hello major league baseball. We’re here,” added Rodriguez.

The rest of the baseball world will get a chance to see Miami’s new stadium when the Marlins host the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday during a nationally televised game on ESPN.

Miami prepares to start the 2012 regular season after a very busy offseason and stocked with a roster full of exciting young players. The $515 million dollar question is going to be whether or not the Marlins can energize a fanbase which has been reluctant to embrace the team in past years. Attendance will be up at the first half of the season, as fans attend games because of the novelty of the new stadium. Whether they can sustain that energy all season remains to be seen.




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