Frolicking Fun at FanFest

Arizona Diamondbacks FanFest began with humble beginnings as the team sponsored an event to allow fans an opportunity to come down to Chase Field and while there purchase tickets for the upcoming season.

Originally it was held in the plaza outside Chase Field. There were small booths from some of the Diamondbacks partners and vendors. Loyal Diamondbacks fans attended but there really was not a lot there for the general public.

Despite the meager attendance the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to continue this annual event. Each subsequent year FanFest has gotten larger and more elaborate providing a unique experience for the fans.

Beginning in 2009, the Diamondbacks moved FanFest from outside on the plaza to inside Chase Field. It was not just inside the stadium, it was on the actual playing surface. This gave fans a rare opportunity to be on the field where their favorite players play every home game.

This year FanFest promised to be bigger and better than any previous year. The event was scheduled from 10 AM to 5 PM. Season ticket holders who printed out the coupon at the bottom of their electronic newsletter were allowed early entrance at 9 AM.

Subway was the signature sponsor for the event. They also offered fans an early entry opportunity by giving fans a coupon with the purchase of a sandwich meal during the week leading up to FanFest.

Besides myself, I also took my daughter and her fiancé as well as my youngest daughter and her Math book (a story I will explain later). We arrived at the stadium at 8:45 AM. The first pleasant surprise was free parking at the parking garage adjacent to Chase Field.

I had expected to have to pay for parking especially this close to the stadium. Kudos to the Diamondbacks for allowing fans to park for free. With that cost savings it gave me more money for the Diamondbacks Foundation Yard Sale.

As we walked to the Chase Field plaza I was surprised to see the number of people already in line waiting for the gates to open. Season Ticket Holder early entry was at Gate A on the other end of the plaza.

There was a fairly long line waiting for early entry. As we mingled in the crowd I learned that there were actually two early entry lines. One line was specifically for Season Ticket Holders while the other was for those who had gotten vouchers from Subway.

I applaud the Diamondbacks for separating these lines and allowing their Season Ticket Holders to enter first. Once inside the door they had set up a table where they were handing out vouchers for player autographs.

For the hour prior to general admission, Season Ticket Holders could get autographs from Luis Gonzalez, Dan Haren, and Miguel Montero with a voucher. We received vouchers for Dan Haren and Miguel Montero.

There was a lot of confusion around the voucher table the people working that area seemed a little flustered. It really wasn’t explained very well and we were left wondering where the autographs were being given.

A security guard pointed to right field and we went down there only to find out the autograph sessions for early entry were actually in the Picnic Pavilion. There was not a line for Miguel Montero but the Gonzalez and Haren lines wrapped around the concourse back to the entry door making it difficult to get around.

My daughter used her Montero voucher and received an autograph from him. By the way, Montero looks great. He has lost some weight and he is one of the nicest players I’ve met. Definitely a high character person and quite friendly to everyone he spoke to.

The Haren line was so insane that we finally gave up. I’m not sure whether all the people in line would be able to get an autograph before time expired.

We made our way down onto the playing field. Along the way we stopped at Section 132, Row 9, Seat 9 so I could show the kids our new seats. They were all excited at the sight lines for the new seats.

A member of Season Ticket Services came over immediately to answer any questions we might have. He was very nice and he too was impressed with the seat location. I invited him to sit with us during a game this season. Not sure whether he will take me up on that or not.

The public address announcer broadcast that the Diamondbacks would be holding tryouts for the Golden Gloves next week. My daughter suggested I should try out. A comment the Season Ticket Services representative thought was very funny. He may have lost his invitation after that.

The sad part was that I didn’t even catch the jab my daughter made. All I could think of was that being a Golden Glove for an inning was on my bucket list.

Once we got down onto the field we made our way to the dugout/clubhouse tour. This is definitely a must for anyone attending FanFest. It was great walking through the ballpark in these areas where few fans ever get to see.

The clubhouse was great. My kids were especially excited to see Clay Zavada’s locker although my youngest daughter freaked when she saw his jock hanging in the locker. She may never be able to look Clay Zavada in the eye again. Her embarrassment was a recurring joke throughout the day.

I was surprised to see that Adam LaRoche scored a corner locker which is usually reserved for the more senior members of the team. He is sitting next to Conor Jackson who looks like he has already moved in for the season.

My daughter Mallorie was impressed that Justin Upton has a Pyrex casserole dish in his locker. She firmly believes Upton cooked something and shared with his teammates. I sincerely hope Upton did not spend the off-season perfecting his taco dip recipe.

After a few pictures of the kids sitting in the Diamondbacks dugout we were back on the field soaking in all the activities going on. There were several inflatable toys in center field for the kids and from the excited squeals; these were big hits with the younger fans.

Near the pool area was the Diamondbacks Foundation Yard Sale. This is one of the things I most look forward to. It is an opportunity to get some of the giveaways from years past. It’s also a great way to do a little Valentine’s Day shopping.

Both of my daughters were looking for Diamondbacks backpacks. They are both over 12 so they miss out on the giveaways for kids. Unfortunately there were no backpacks for sale and they had to settle for getting a Diamondbacks T-shirt.

I scored a left-handed game used Diamondbacks batting helmet. My daughters warned me that mom would kill me when I got home. I quickly explained that the helmet was for mom for Valentine’s Day. What wife would not love a game used batting helmet?

Next to the yard sale the Diamondbacks held question and answer sessions with players, coaches, and front office staff. While we were there we heard from manager AJ Hinch, General Manager Josh Byrnes, and CEO/President Derrick Hall.

The Q&A sessions were well attended and the fans brought up quite a few very good questions putting the Diamondbacks staff on the spot for answers. I came away with the feeling that the fans have high expectations for the 2010 Diamondbacks and a sense of excitement for the new season.

I had hoped to find the Fox Sports Arizona booth and volunteer to be part of their interactive fans promotion. I didn’t run across that booth though so I missed my 15 minutes of fame.

The Mrs. Fields booth and the Pepsi booth were both very popular especially with their free samples. I also seemed to come home with a Qwest stress ball and a Frisbee.

Overall the FanFest was a great time and everyone I ran into had a smile on their face and can’t wait for April 2 when the Diamondbacks play the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game, the first game at Chase Field for 2010.



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