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'Kill switches,' biometric devices: An inside look at how the Marlins' retractable roof works

Wells Dusenbury, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Baseball

MIAMI -- Tucked away in a glass-enclosed booth within the Marlins' fifth-floor command center, Mike McKeon has his finger on the "kill switch."

It's a sunny Miami afternoon as McKeon glances toward the roof from his perch high atop center field at Marlins Park.

"I'm the eyes in the sky," McKeon said.

McKeon, who has worked for the team for eight years, is one of the few people integrally involved in the everyday, yet key, task of operating the retractable roof of Miami's $515 million stadium.

Constructed in 2012, it is one of six Major League Baseball stadiums which can host both outdoor and indoor games -- joining Arizona, Houston, Milwaukee, Seattle and Toronto.

So how does it all work?

The typical day starts at 7 a.m. with Claude Delorme, the Marlins executive vice president of operations and events. Delorme -- who spent 23 years with the Montreal Expos before joining the Marlins in 2004 -- will begin by roaming the field, checking to make sure everything is in order before getting his first weather report at 10 a.m.

He'll look at many things, including heat index, humidity, weather and wind when determining whether to leave the roof open or to close it for night games. Led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, the team's new ownership group has placed a premium on playing in open conditions.

After having 50 open-roof games in the previous five seasons combined, the Marlins have already hosted 20 this year.

"Conditions here are unique," Delorme said. "We'll get cells in this market when you least expect it. All the sudden things change and it starts to rain and that's kind of unique. When you're in 1/8Los Angeles3/8 or California, you don't get a lot of rain and usually you can anticipate it better. South Florida -- it's a tricky trade."

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