Marlins' park 80 percent complete

MIAMI -- Dirt piled 6 feet high stands midway between the two dugouts at the Florida Marlins' new ballpark.

No, that won't be the pitcher's mound. Construction crews are still digging and grading in preparation for the opening of the ballpark in April, but the $515 million project is 80 percent complete, and the Marlins say it is on schedule.

The Marlins held a tour of the site Wednesday. The field is still dirt and mud, because the natural grass isn't scheduled to be laid until January. But the dugouts have been built, the foul poles are up, and a scoreboard and two video boards have been erected.

The ballpark will have 36,000 seats, and 33,500 have been installed. The Marlins, long accustomed to playing in front of tiny crowds in their current stadium, anticipate full houses all season in 2012.

"We are not resting until there are 35,000 fans here every single night," team president David Samson said.

After a Texas Rangers fan suffered a fatal fall at a game in Arlington in July, the Marlins reviewed and upgraded the configuration of their railings. They will now be 34 to 54 inches high, compared with the 26-inch railings found in some public settings.

Considerable work remains to be done on the exterior and the retractable roof. The roof was open Wednesday, but is expected to be closed for all but eight to 12 games.

The first regular-season game will be April 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Marlins will play the New York Yankees in exhibition games April 1-2.

After Wednesday night's series finale against the New York Mets, only six games remain in the Marlins' current home, where they've played since their first season in 1993.