Long Term Risks To Marlins’ Green Ballpark

With Major League Baseball’s domestic* Opening Day only 72 hours away, here is a cautionary tale about the long term prospects of Miami Marlins Stadium. 

Eric Roston of Bloomberg is up with a great story about the vulnerability of the new, Miami Marlins ballpark to catastrophic sea level rise expected to hit South Florida in the the coming decades.  The irony is that the stadium, which I visited shortly after it opened in 2012, is very green. Per Roston, ” it recycles, sips energy and water, and is plugged into public transit.”

Marlins Stadium was built one foot higher than floods are supposed to reach in once-in-500-year storms. But sea level rise, due to the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and elsewhere, has been revised upward from “a global average of a foot and a half to three feet by 2100, without aggressive carbon-cutting, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”  The IPCC’s Executive Committee meets next week and updated information is expected to be released.

Marlins Stadium Google Earth

Rendering of what the neighborhood surrounding Marlins Park, in Miami, could look like after three feet of sea-level rise, based on data from ClimateCentral.org’s Surging Seas research. (Photo Credit: High Water Line Miami Project/Movement; Google Earth)


You may ask, “how did the City of Miami agree to build a stadium in such an at-risk area?”. This is particularly vexing when you consider there is a significant “we’re in DEEP climate trouble”/clean tech community in South Florida. The problem is the politics in the state of Florida. It’s run by a climate change denying Governor. Both houses of the state legislature are controlled by the Republican Party, which denies human caused climate change with religious fervor. The perils of this head-in-the-sand behavior go far beyond the ballpark as this must-read 2013 Rolling Stone article, “Goodbye Miami” by Jeff Goodell (no relation to the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, methinks) bears out.

Did you read the article? Amazing, right? Thinking twice about investing in South Florida real estate, aren’t you? If you didn’t read it, that’s your homework!

OK, back to baseball stadia…

Roston’s piece goes far beyond the stupidity of the Florida political power structure to call out the larger problem: Most large-scale infrastructure projects that were built to last into the 2nd half of the 21st century did not take into account climate change. He cites the Nationals’ Ballpark adjacent to the Anacostia River and Boston’s famed Big Dig highway project that was not built with Sandy-like storm surges in mind.  The strong takeaway from this article is that any big project that’s designed from today forward MUST plan rigorously for adaptation to the short, medium and long term effects of climate change.

* MLB’s season began a week ago in Australia.

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