Derek Jeter gets his wish: The Marlins home run sculpture is outta there

Where are they taking our statue?
Where are they taking our statue?

The Miami Marlins won county permission on Tuesday to move its home run sculpture out of Marlins Park to the plaza outside, giving Derek Jeter a key win in his efforts to erase the legacy of former owner Jeffrey Loria.

The sculptor behind “Homer,” New York’s Red Grooms, opposed moving the seven-story piece of public art, saying he designed it under a $2.5 million contract with Miami-Dade County specifically for its home in center field. The sculpture whirrs to life whenever the Marlins hit a home run, sending mechanical Marlins spinning during a cycle timed to end once the typical base runner makes it to home plate.

After buying the team with partners from Loria last year for $1.2 billion, Jeter sent word he wasn’t a fan of the county-owned sculpture and wanted it gone. The new Marlins front office has plans for a multi-story spectator area there designed for a new standing-room-only ticket that will sell for as little as $10. In its new location outside, “Homer” will still turn on for home runs, as well as at the end of every home win and every day at 3:05 p.m., an homage to Miami’s original area code.

gimenez and jeter jan 16 2018Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter tour Marlins Park in January 2018. Jeter wanted to evict the county-owned home run sculpture commissioned for the ballpark’s 2012 opening, and Gimenez’s administration backed the team’s efforts to move it outside the park.Miami-Dade County
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a longtime Loria foe, endorsed Jeter’s plan to move “Homer.” But with Grooms against it, the relocation got complicated. An artist has a right to “disavow” a work if it’s moved, and Grooms urged county officials not to allow his sculpture to be dispatched to a new home.

To get around the artist’s opposition, the Marlins promised to pay Miami-Dade up to $2.5 million if Grooms opts to take his name off the work and render it worthless on the art market. The Marlins were required to pay for county-owned public art under its contract to build the county-owned stadium, which opened in 2012.

home run sculpture marjie.jpgThe home run sculpture at Marlins Park came to life whenever the Marlins hit a home run. Its days inside the ballpark are over, based on a new plan that won county approval on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.Marjie Lambert
Moving the Grooms art required approval from the county’s Art in Public Places board, which on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the Marlins plan. “Homer” will be the centerpiece of a new art walk the Marlins plan for outside the stadium. It will be secured by a new eight-foot fence the team plans to erect around the stadium, Marlins executives said Tuesday.
homer outside jay peg.jpgA rendering of what the Marlins home run sculpture might look like once it is moved outside of Marlins Park. New owner Derek Jeter has been trying to have the county-owned artwork moved from the stadium since he and partners bought the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria last year, and on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, he won approval from Miami-Dade to relocate it to a plaza outside.
Chip Bowers, president of business operations for the Marlins, made his pitch before the arts board Tuesday. He said the plan is to dismantle the sculpture as quickly as possible. He said the team needs the space cleared to get construction started on the new spectator area in order for it to be open for Opening Day next spring. The debut of “Homer” in its new open-air home will take longer.

“I think we’d be hard-pressed to get it there by Opening Day,” he said.