Marlins open stadium April 4 vs Cards

By Ronald Blum

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 30 2011 8:20 p.m. MDT

NEW YORK — The Marlins will open their new $515 million ballpark against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 4, a person familiar with next season's draft schedule told The Associated Press

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because Major League Baseball does not plan to announce the schedule, which is still preliminary, until September.

"That's cool. It's the first I heard of it," Florida catcher John Buck said after a 5-4 win at Oakland. "It's fun to have an opening day in your home stadium, period. Then to have the excitement of a new stadium is only going to heighten it. I'm looking forward to it."

Florida's downtown ballpark, which has a retractable roof, will be the first to open in the majors since Minnesota's Target Field in 2010. The franchise is to be renamed the Miami Marlins next year.

"It will be quite a show," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "To open up a new stadium that Miami can call their own, a true baseball stadium, a beautiful facility. What else could you ask for? They're going to have to be happy."

Many teams prefer to open on the road in the years they move into a new ballpark, giving them extra time to get the stadium ready.

The game against St. Louis is a one-game homestand and is likely to be televised by ESPN. Before then, the Marlins are planning an exhibition against the New York Yankees.

Since the Marlins began play in 1993, their home games have been at what now is called Sun Life Stadium, about 16 miles north.

The Marlins say they have had 191 rain delays during games in Miami coming into this year, an average of more than 10 per season — although no in-game delays this year.

When the Marlins move out of Sun Life, where the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes play their home football games, Oakland's Coliseum will be the last stadium shared by MLB and NFL teams. In the early 1990s, about two-thirds of major league clubs shared ballparks with NFL teams.

With the opening of the new Miami stadium, Oakland and Tampa Bay will be the last big league teams hoping for new ballparks.

AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

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