MIAMI -- Putting shovels into the dirt and breaking ground on the Marlins' new ballpark is scheduled for July. Preparing for the pouring of concrete is taking place now. Each passing day brings the construction of the 37,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium at the Orange Bowl closer to reality.
Momentum continues to build as the stages to actually get the project launched are well under way.
"This week we had our first ever set of construction documents finished for the first bid package, which is the foundation bid package," Marlins president David Samson said. "What that means in layman's terms is we've never been closer to actually pouring concrete in Miami."
It's obviously been an exciting first week of the season for the franchise. On the field, the Marlins completed a 5-1 first homestand at Dolphin Stadium. Off the field, team officials continue to forge forward, ironing out details to begin construction on the park that is slated to open in 2012.
"Internally, it was a cause to quietly celebrate as we realize that it's no longer a concept," Samson said of the long-awaited new home for the franchise. "We are now getting closer and closer to seeing activity on the site."
Once construction begins, fans are expected to have the opportunity to view the building of the project, courtesy of a Web cam that will be displayed on the Marlins' Web site.
"The second exciting thing that happened is we've completed our permit to install EarthCam on a building near the site," Samson said. "And we believe that within two weeks there will be a live camera on the site that we will be able to show the people over the next three years everything that goes on, from start to finish.
"People can see it on [MLB-powered] www.MarlinsNewBallpark.com and Marlins.com, 24 hours a day, on a live camera. Those were two things that we were very happy with this week." The stadium will be angled in a Southeast direction. From where home plate is, the city of Miami will be north of left field, and South Beach will be beyond right field.
Word of progress being made on the construction documents comes at a time when a few media reports have surfaced questioning as to whether the project will get off the ground.
Samson said he is in constant contact with city of Miami's mayor Manny Diaz and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Alvarez. The bottom line is, he said, that everything is on schedule to break ground in July.
"There are always going to be articles in the newspaper, people who are nervous, people who are questioning the deal, etc., but we're past that now," Samson said. "I've been speaking with commissioners and dealing with the mayors, both Diaz and Alvarez, and we're full-speed ahead." So much so, that budgets are outlined for each week leading up to the 2012 opening.
"Every single week, we do a call with our construction team," Samson said. "We do a call with our design team. We do a league and environmental call with our concessionaire. This is every single week.
"We are finalizing the design of the office space. Literally, where we are now is figuring out where each individual office is going to be in our team offices. This was all done within the last five days. Every week is just packed from start to finish."
Another significant step was taken regarding the naming rights of the ballpark.
"We put together our [list of] top 30 [companies for] naming rights, which is something a lot of media has been asking about," Samson said. "That happened this week."
With the Mets in town this past weekend, Samson had a brief discussion with New York executives Jeff Wilpon and Dave Howard regarding the stadium. The Mets have gone through the development and construction of their new ballpark, Citi Field.
"I got a very interesting piece of advice from Dave Howard and Jeff Wilpon of the Mets," Samson said. "They said, 'Just be ready. If you thought that negotiating the deal was your second full-time job, now that the building is going to get built, everyone in your office will have two full-time jobs. Because you'll have to run your team here at Dolphin Stadium, and prepare to run your team in the new ballpark.'"
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.