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Marlins take rebrand to the streets of Miami

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In a community that was as distant from its baseball team as it could be a year ago, the Marlins attempt to mend relations and make a positive impact.

Photo by @Marlins/Twitter

This Friday, various members of the Marlins organization were all over South Florida showing off the fresh look and meeting with fans, local businesses and first responders. That included Chip Bowers, Derek Jeter, Mike Hill, Charles Johnson, Tommy Hutton, Gaby Sanchez, Pablo López, José Ureña, Sandy Alcántara, Peter O’Brien, Lewis Brinson, and Trevor Richards.

I started my day by visiting the Coral Gables Police Department. Officers and workers waited with much anticipation for Bowers, president of business operations, and a very delicious lunch provided by the Marlins and Pincho Factory.

Photo by Luis Davila/Fish Stripes

Bowers made his grand entrance and—to my surprise—really spent his time sharing stories, handing out hats and interacting with everyone. Bowers stressed the importance of the relationship between team and community saying, “We do not take our responsibility to this community lightly.”

While there were only about “four or five people total that were involved in the actual logo ideation,” feedback that the team had from fans through avenues like the Dímelo campaign played a huge role in the ultimate logo and jersey designs. Same goes for the upcoming ballpark enhancements. Along with the removal of the home run sculpture and the addition of new standing room only sections, the team plans to change the colors of the walls and add more diversity in the concession stands in ways such as Peruvian and Argentinian food. All those changes are expected to be ready for Opening Day 2019.

Miami’s unique diversity has been a huge emphasis in the team’s marketing. Bowers acknowledged that, “Yes, we have 63 percent Hispanics in terms of population make-up here, but there’s another 37 that’s not and you have to appeal to everyone, and that’s our goal.”

When asked about unnecessarily big Marlins Park, Bowers said, “We have always felt the fences for us are the perfect distance.” The team wants to win by relying on its pitching.

However, Bowers did not discount the possibility of revisiting the topic in the future. The ballpark will continue to evolve every year, and nothing should be left off the table when considering changes.

Shortly after, I made my way to Coyo Taco in the Wynwood Art District where Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson and starting pitcher Trevor Richards were interacting with fans and showing off the new gear.

Brinson, a South Florida native, said “it’s awesome to see everyone out here,” allowing him to get acquainted with people who will eventually make their way into the stands at Marlins Park root for the team. When asked about the rebrand, Brinson said the new look can bring “great energy, motivate us a little bit more and start a new culture in Miami.”

Richards, on the other hand, is new to the city of Miami, but notes that, “It’s exciting stuff...so much change going on and it’s focused around the city of Miami.”

I ended my day-long trek at Marlins Park where the Marlins were hosting their annual Thanksgiving food distribution. Derek Jeter, José Ureña, and Sandy Alcántara were all personally helping in the distribution, connecting with fans, and even stopping for the occasional selfie.

Photo by Luis Davila/Fish Stripes

The Thanksgiving event was one that Jeter considered “very meaningful.” Reflecting on what he was most proud of during his time as Marlins part-owner, the CEO said it was the dedication to the community, even acknowledging it “never stops, that continues year in and year out...we really want to be hands on.”

Photo by Luis Davila/Fish Stripes

Both Alcántara and Ureña were very excited about the team’s new look. They believe that the fresh threads would play their part in building excitement, not only for the fans, but for the players themselves when it comes to the upcoming 2019 season. Alcántara was happy to be at the event, “excited to see happy faces...and help the community in any way possible.” Ureña stressed how they’ll “do everything we can for the people.”

Photo by Luis Davila/Fish Stripes
Photo by Luis Davila/Fish Stripes

Fellow right-hander Pablo López spent his afternoon among fans in Hialeah. When reached for comment afterwards, he noted how positive the reception was:

“Giving back to the community is a huge aspect of sports, and if we have the opportunity to go out there and do it frequently, let’s take advantage of those opportunities. Support comes from everywhere, and if we can make some people happy, then they’ll make us happy when they’re cheering loudly for the Marlins at the stadium.”

He also describes being “mesmerized” by his introduction to the color scheme earlier in the week.

“We already can’t wait for spring training and the season to start,” Pablo says, “so we can wear those in games. It’s a new and very exciting chapter!”

The Marlins have come a long way since the doldrums of the Jeffrey Loria era. In 2015, the entire roster famously no-showed a charity event. Player and fan morale is much improved since then, revitalized by the rebrand.

More community projects are on the horizon. Earlier this week, the Marlins announced a $170,000 donation to Tropical Park for major renovations to their baseball fields—reconditioning the infield clay, drainage improvements and re-grading the outfield turf. The ground-breaking ceremony takes place Monday afternoon.

The relationship between the Marlins and the city is symbiotic: each side fuels the other’s growth and prosperity. This team is here to win, connect with the community, and help make Miami a great place to live and visit. Their promise has been made.

“When we make you a promise, we’re going to deliver on it,” Chip Bowers says.

Whether you’re a new or lifelong member of the community, or even just visiting, it’s evident that the Marlins are infusing the essence and pride of Miami into their brand in ways we’ve never seen before.