When the Diamondbacks entered the Majors in 1998, by way of expansion, baseball in Phoenix had only been reserved for Spring Training and Minor League games. It made perfect sense then that under the right conditions a big league team could do well in the city, but those conditions would have to be controlled. Luckily for baseball fans in Phoenix, for $354 million their new team would be playing in a retractable-roof stadium, complete with air conditioning and for the most discerning of fans, a swimming pool.
For the Friday night game I attended between divisional rivals, and sub-.500 division leaders, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks drew about 80% of the stadium's capacity of 49,033. And of those 37,000 plus in attendance about half wore Dodger Blue and cheered for the visitors. Despite that I am indifferent to both teams, I know you are supposed to root, root, root for the home team, which I did, and nothing annoys me more than when the fan base of the visitors are equal to or greater than the home team supporters. So that's one minus for my Diamondback experience. But the positives far outweighed the negatives.
Bells & Whistles
I am not usually a big fan of extracurriculars at the ballpark. However, I think when it's 113 degrees outside it is pretty nice to have some distractions from that weather, and Chase Field has a lot of nice distractions.
All the fan amenities that new ballparks covet these days were on display, too. From supernumerary ATMs and restrooms, to decent parking nearby, Chase Field (formerly Bank One Ballpark) is actually a great place to take in a game. Even the outfield seats where we sat, which were benches rather than actual seats, were perfect. I say perfect because my father, who is not the sveltest of guys, was able to have more room here than in the usual snug seats.
And I noticed something else, chain restaurants. At San Diego's PETCO Park there was a Johnny Rockets. Here at Chase Field I saw T.G.I. Friday's and Panda Express. It seems that more and more ballpark concourses are growing akin to mega-malls complete with food courts. I am sure it won't be long before Victoria's Secret and Things Remembered boutiques are spaced between the beer and pretzel stands.
But the ambiance of a good baseball game still resonated in Phoenix, and the park had a lot to do with it. I give it high marks for it's overall architecture, space, and ambassadorship to baseball.