This Borders on Sacrilege

Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is owned and operated by the Maricopa County Stadium District. Although the team has their offices there, they are merely the primary tenants for the venue.

During the off-season the Stadium District is able to book other events to utilize the structure. Through the years there have been numerous events held there. Some seem like a natural fit while others leave you scratching your heads wondering how creative these guys really are.

For example, last month Chase Field was the home of the GoDaddy Christmas party. At first glance that seems rather odd. Why would a company rent out a baseball stadium for the company party? GoDaddy answered that by turning the infield and outfield areas into an amusement park complete with Ferris wheel.

Other creative events have included the Insight College Football bowl game, a Battle of the Marching Bands, a boat show, a Christian Men’s conference, and a women’s college basketball game. While each of these was a novelty at the time, they seemed to work out well.

But there are two events that occur each January that are not a good fit, at least in my opinion. The first of these two events occurred last night. The SuperCross motorcycle races came to Phoenix.

The once green and lush outfield and neatly manicured infield were replaced with literally tons of dirt that were brought in to transform the baseball stadium into a full-on motorcycle race track.

Entering the stadium during baseball season is always exciting. From the moment you walk through the front doors you can see down onto the playing field where players are preparing for the upcoming game.

Tonight, walking through the gates you greeted by clouds of dust and the roar of engines. Every once in a while you would see a motorcycle with rider flying through the air in what seemed like a height they could reach the Diamond Level.

Looking out over the stadium, all of the seats were covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt. The normally inviting seats now looked like they had been drug behind a pick-up across the state of Texas.

I stood there trying to imagine what the field used to look like. A huge berm was where the pitcher’s mound used to be and I could not even guess where the infield dirt met the outfield grass.

It bordered on sacrilege how they destroyed this baseball field so that a few amped up motorcycle riders could get “a little air”. It was like seeing someone paint a smiley face on the Mona Lisa or engineers straightening the leaning tower of Pisa. While it may be interesting, you don’t mess with art.

With the 2011 All-Star game slated for Chase Field in July I cringed with each passing motorcycle wondering what kind of damage was being done. The pained look on my face must have been obvious as one of the ushers began talking about how the field had been protected.

They had laid layers of plywood down to protect the underlying turf and drainage system. They then carefully added dump truck loads of dirt on top and groomed it. The track was set up to protect specific areas such as the batter’s eye, dugouts, outfield fences, and of course the pool.

So while the SuperCross fans cheered their favorite riders I was at least content in knowing that no actual harm was being done to the playing field. Still, it was pretty hard watching this circus take place in what has been a second home for me these past 13 years.

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