Derek Jeter’s plans to rebuild Marlins Park in Florida could be thwarted thanks to a Tribeca artist who’s so far refused to remove his gaudy $2.5 million home-run sculpture.
The vibrant, seven-story piece comes to life with flashing lights, diving marlins and dancing flamingos whenever a home run is hit and currently sits in centerfield — where pop artist Red Grooms wants it to remain.
“What I would like is for it to stay there,” Grooms told the Miami Herald Tuesday. “I wish it would just stay there and be hit in the bean with baseballs.”
Jeter, who bought the Marlins with partners last year for $1.2 billion, can only remove the installation titled “Homer” with Grooms approval, county officials have ruled.
The sculpture has been ridiculed as over-the-top and downright ugly since its debut in 2012 when the Miami ballpark first opened — and it seems the new Marlins owners aren’t fans of it, either.
After meeting Jeter and his partners for the first time last month, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez admitted they weren’t “all that crazy about it,” according to MLB.com.
But Grooms is afforded certain artist protections when it comes to moving the sculpture as per his agreement with the county, the Miami Herald reported.
Now, officials are floating the idea of finding “Homer” a new home — possibly in an art museum or for-profit ballpark where tourists can snap selfies with it — without Grooms having to disavow it, which would diminish the price tag on the pricey piece.
“The work would lose all of its value,” Michael Spring, a senior adviser to Gimenez and the county’s director of cultural affairs, told the newspaper. “Our working assumption is we want the artist’s endorsement. The way to get that is to convince [him we can] be both respectful of the artwork and respectful of the artist.”
Grooms, a self-proclaimed Marlins fan despite his Big Apple roots, thinks “Homer” should stay inside Marlins Park, where it belongs.
“It was designed to celebrate home runs, and just have some fun,” he said. “But I have to be realistic. There are some powerful forces at work here.”
“I hate to stay in a place where I seem to be so disliked,” Grooms added about “Homer’s” reputation. “But it was designed to be in that place. It looks good there.”
Jeter hasn’t publicly said he wants the sculpture banished — but he wouldn’t answer questions on its future.
“It’s big. I mean, it’s unique. It’s a unique sculpture,” Jeter told reporters last week. “We’re having a dialogue. We’re trying to figure out any ways we can make this in-game experience better for fans.”