Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Deathtour~!: Chase Field, Arizona

Stop number two of my three city week long excursion finds me in the middle of a desert. Who decided to build a city here, anyway? I can’t find any reason for it. But apparently over 4 million people have decided to live here. The worst part about this place is how spread out everything is. Nothing is in walking distance from anything, which, as a non-driving citizen, would make living here impossible. I looked up the population density and there’s just a hair shy of 3,000 people per square mile here. That’s 1.5 million spread out over 517 square miles. By comparison, San Francisco’s density is over 15,000 per square mile. We’ve squeezed half the population into one tenth the amount of land (47 square miles). No matter how many people live somewhere, you shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself a city unless you have a density over 7,000 and an adequate bus system supported with a subway or light rail. Phoenix is officially a town.

Chase Field

Unofficially, it’s still The BOB, just like AT&T is still Pac Bell. The BOB seems more natural. Even the mascot of the Diamondbacks is still a BOBcat, though I’m sure the impracticality of an armless snake mascot has something to do with it. The win on Sunday filled me with a false sense of optimism coming into Arizona. I was wearing my colors a little more boldly and the orange and black were well represented at the game. I even found myself seated next to two Giants fans (who unfortunately were not the members of my extended family I was with) who were as happy to see me as I was to see them. After only finding 3 Giants fans in St. Louis, it was nice to be closer to home.

As is becoming my custom with each park, I took a walk around the concourse, checking out each feature along the way – The Pool in right center, Friday’s Sports Grill in Left field, the stadium organ along the left field foul pole. There’s a kids diamond beyond the outfield, which seems to be a popular attraction at ballparks now and a community wall featuring all the little league ball parks the club has funded.

Until this point, I’d only been to outdoor stadiums. To come in and see the roof overhead was quite the experience. The sounds of the ballpark echo from side to side in an unusual way. It’s more like a basketball game or a concert. I was told by my uncle that they keep the roof closed during the day to keep the field cool and then open it up right before the game. It was about 25 minutes before game time when we took our seats in the upper deck directly behind home plate. It was then that I realized I didn’t have a program or scorecard, a requirement for all my games. I walked back down to the lower level, into the team store and purchased a program for the bargain price of $3. By the time I’d made my way back to my seat the roof had been opened. I was kicking myself for missing an obvious photo opportunity.

The additional benefit of sitting behind the plate is the uncanny view of the most spectacular HD screen I’ve ever seen (a new feature this year according to my program). And they make great use of it too throwing up tons of information on the game without compromising the size of the picture used for replays. My favorite feature of the screen was a recap of the last 3 plays. This is of great help if you’re keeping score and need to make a pit stop of grab a bite to eat, which is another requirement for me.

I wasn’t able to find a warm food item that stood out so I asked the concession worker what was good. She gave me the standard ‘everything’s good’ line so I asked what was popular. I came away with some chicken strips and some fries, not exactly unique, but I was hungry and needed something to pass as ‘dinner’ since my next food choice wasn’t going to qualify. Down here they have something called Cold Stone Creamery (which I kept wanting to call Stone Cold) which serves some drool inducing ice cream in waffle cups drenched in caramel. Perfect! It’s 8:30pm and 80 degrees out. Ice cream is exactly what I need. And it certainly made the rest of the game enjoyable as the Giants lost a tough one 4-2, to the delight of my family.

Center field before the game. The roof was still closed at this point.

Roof Open. I would have had the perfect location to watch the transformation if I hadn't forgotten to get a program outside.

Friday's Sports Grill in left and the Lexus Club in right. Fine Dining at the game. The pool is just to the left of the picture in right. I've always liked the funky dimensions caused by the bullpens. I prefer them on the field, down the lines, but this is almost as good.

I don't think this picture does that screen justice. It's really extraordinary. I want one for my house.

On a per dollar basis, upper deck seats directly behind the plate may be the best value in baseball. It's just like watching a classic game on SuperNES.

Seventh Inning stretch. The organ is right underneath the Sandlot sign. The lower deck filled in nicely but the upper decks were bare. Only 22,097 at the game.

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