Phoenix ready to show off new $354 million ballpark
Posted: Tuesday October 05, 1999 08:10 PM
The Diamondbacks look on as a member of their grounds crew puts the finishing touches on Bank One's field. AP
PHOENIX (AP) -- Joe Velarde had a plane to catch. But the Salt
Lake City resident had to see one thing before heading home.
"Awesome," Velarde remarked as he and his son, Rheo, sized up
downtown Phoenix's 48,500-seat Bank One Ballpark, home to the NL
West-champion Arizona Diamondbacks and site of a playoff series
Velarde took in the domed stadium from Friday's Front Row Sports
Grill, a terraced restaurant that offers visitors a panoramic view
of the ballpark's pool, natural turf grass and retractable roof.
He lamented only one thing. "I would have liked to see them
open up the roof," he said.
Most visitors to the ballpark, known affectionately in Phoenix
as "BOB," put the roof on their "must see" lists.
Accompanied by pounding music, the massive steel roof slides
open on cool days and rolls shut on hot or rainy ones. When open,
it looks as though the stadium could easily swallow up the
neighboring America West Arena, home to the NBA's Phoenix Suns and
NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.
Even closed, the $354 million ballpark is a visual marvel with
its soaring walls, mammoth windows and an interior crawling with
air conditioning ducts. The stadium's cooling system, a necessity
since Phoenix's temperature often tops out at 100 degrees or
hotter, pumps out enough air to cool 2,500 Arizona homes.
Diamondbacks' slugger Luis Gonzalez, who played last year in the
antiquated and now-defunct Tiger Stadium, said Bank One Ballpark is
akin to the "Taj Mahal."
"This is the upper echelon of baseball parks. There's a great
background for hitters, great graphics on the reader board and
things like that," he said. "It's a fun place for visiting teams
to come because you know you're always going to have fans here."
The stadium was designed for more than watching and playing
ballgames. It has picnic areas, playgrounds for children, baseball
exhibits and museums, and a giant interactive baseball theme park
in back of the centerfield stands.
"Even if you don't like baseball, there's a lot to do in
there," said Eric Ault, a fan from Phoenix.
That includes maybe stopping at one of two beer gardens, or
strolling along the nearly quarter-mile of concession stands, or
maybe even taking a swim. Yes, a swim.
Fans who can afford to cough up $4,000 - that's per game can
rent the ballpark pool tucked away behind the right-centerfield
Players are also taken care of.
The Diamondbacks' 20,000-square-foot locker room has 40
oak-paneled dressing cubicles, each with a built-in vanity mirror
and combination safe.
The Arizona players have a steam room, three Jacuzzis, a
training pool and an exercise and weight room. An adjoining room
holds two indoor batting cages.
One feature traditionalists love is a dirt path running between
the mound and home plate, a throwback to pre-World War II stadiums.
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