The kitschy home-run sculpture at Marlins Park can’t be removed by Derek Jeter or anyone else who might buy the team, according to its owner: Miami-Dade County.
Standing 73 feet tall, the mechanical display sends marlins and flamingos whirring whenever the Marlins hit a home run. It was commissioned as part of Miami-Dade’s Art in Public Places program, which requires construction of county buildings to include art as well. The sculpture by well-regarded pop artist Red Grooms is named “Homer,” cost $2.5 million and, like Marlins Park, belongs to Miami-Dade’s government.
Jeter and partners reportedly floated interest in removing the center-field sculpture, which some mock as garish and decidely un-Miami, while others find it a fun, irreverent way to celebrate a home-team dinger.
Whatever a new ownership group may think about the sculpture, the county office that supervises public art says, don’t plan on the home-run feature going anywhere.
“The County commissioned and purchased the Home Run Sculpture with the public art funds generated by the ballpark project,” Michael Spring, head of the county’s cultural affairs arm, said in an email Thursday. It “was designed specifically for this project and location and is permanently installed. It is not movable.”
Nobody attached to Jeter’s group has actually made a public statement about wanting the home-run sculpture gone, but the well-covered rumor has inspired the artwork’s many detractors to cheer the possible clean sweep of both owner Jeffrey Loria and the ballpark’s signature feature.
Among the sculpture’s critics: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
“Mayor Gimenez appreciates art in public places,” said the mayor’s communications chief, Michael Hernández. “That particular structure, not so much.”
Could a new ownership group remove the sculpture? Yes, theoretically, but only if the Miami-Dade commission granted permission for its removal, Hernández said. But Spring, the cultural director, said Miami-Dade’s current position is that the sculpture needs to be treated like the piece of valuable art that it is.
“The County’s real estate team will provide any new owner with the requirements regarding care for the County-owned assets,” Spring wrote.