Town Hall Meeting

After an exciting game at Chase Field, my family and I gathered up our Stephen Drew bobble head dolls and began to make our way to the exit. As we walked past the Diamondbacks dugout I happened to notice a large number of fans who remained seated in those sections. Besides the fans there, others were filtering down from other sections to find an empty seat above the dugout.

After 11 innings I was curious what could be going on that these people were staying in their seats. I asked an usher if he knew what was going on and he replied that there was going to be a town hall meeting for a small number of Diamondbacks season ticket holders where they would be allowed to talk to Diamondbacks CEO/President Derrick Hall and manager AJ Hinch. So while I was not invited I decided I needed to crash this meeting.

The town hall started with radio announcer Greg Schulte welcoming everyone and introducing AJ Hinch. Derrick Hall came late apologizing that he could not get an elevator to the main level. The purpose of this meeting was to answer questions from the fans and allow them to get to know AJ a little better.

I always find it interesting that the Diamondbacks are so open and willing to communicate with the fans. I’ve never found another organization that is so willing to give you a behind the scenes look at how they run their business or allow customers to question some of the decisions that have been made. A lot of the credit for this goes to Derrick Hall. The Diamondbacks have been much more open during his tenure than they were under Rich Dozier.

From what I could piece together the season ticket holders that were invited to this town hall meeting were given an opportunity to submit questions that would be answered by the panel. Greg Schulte had the sheets of questions and moderated the discussion determining whether Derrick or AJ would answer.

As the meeting progressed I watched intently as the question was asked then turned my attention to the audience to try and gauge their reaction to the answers. In nearly all cases the answers given were met with enthusiasm and more than a few times cheers and positive comments from the fans. Clearly management had struck a chord and the fans were buying into the message being given.

Questions ranged from explanations as to how the decision was made to make the managerial change to how AJ was going to gain the team’s respect. The panel also touched on whether the team was writing off the 2009 season and building for 2010 and what the fans should expect to see for the remainder of the season.

Since many are probably curious, both AJ Hinch and Derrick Hall still believe they have the talent and the time to make the play-offs this season. They both agree it will be an uphill battle and both relented and said that winning the NL West may not be possible with the Dodgers playing so well but that the Wild Card was not out of the question if the team could put together a sustained winning effort over the second half of the season. Going into July neither believed the team would be in a selling mode but would be interested in making any deal that could help the ball club now and in the future.

There were also questions on the game start times. Some felt that first pitch should be moved to 7:10 like most of Major League Baseball. Derrick explained that overwhelmingly fans supported the 6:40 PM start time and that it would probably remain. He explained that the earlier time helped families be able to bring kids to the game and still get them home at a decent time for bed. He went on to explain how important families were to the Diamondbacks and how they are trying to build a future generation of fans. I was impressed with that message. Derrick talked about conversations he had with other teams and related a story of a conversation he had with the Boston Red Sox. Derrick asked them how they were building a future fan base with kids and families. The Red Sox explained to him that they had little or no interest in focusing on the family and therefore did very little to market to families or younger generations.

There was a question about the all-star game and 2011. During his answer Derrick Hall gave a tidbit of information that the team is hearing that the Colorado Rockies are readying notification to Tucson that they will be leaving Hi-Corbett Field due to the lack of teams in southern Arizona. The Diamondbacks would have no choice but to move as well since one team would not be a viable option.

From the discussion it appears that Arizona is close to deciding on a location for their spring training facility and that it most likely will be a two team complex shared by the Diamondbacks and the Rockies. Derrick would not go as far as naming the location but a decision could come fairly soon to allow adequate time to have the facility available to begin play in 2011.

Overall I came away very impressed with the town hall and the answers that were given to the submitted questions. My confidence level in AJ Hinch as the manager also increased. Listening to him he clearly has the leadership qualities to lead this team. Hopefully the other coaches and players will also see this and follow his example. I give credit to the Arizona Diamondbacks for having a venue such as this to let the fans become more comfortable with the team and the leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *