APNewsBreak: Marlins open stadium April 4 vs Cards

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.

”I think anytime you’re a part of that, it’s historic, it’s a

special treat, and that would be great,” St. Louis manager Tony La

Russa said in Baltimore where the Cardinals played the Orioles.

”It would be fun. I definitely would look forward to that.

”My roots are in Florida, and I’ve seen what the Marlins have

gone through, and that’s a major move for their franchise, so that

would be a special moment for us to be a part of that opener.”

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 Writers Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., and David

Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.