The Arizona Diamondbacks invited special guests to an exclusive event held at the new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The event called D-backs Baseball Interactive gave fans a behind the scenes tour of the new Spring Training facility and an opportunity to experience Spring Training with the team.
The day started with fans gathering on the Pepsi Patio deck where Diamondbacks officials welcomed them. The Pepsi Patio is one of three party decks at the new stadium and is situated on top of the press box of the main stadium. On the third base side and one level below is the Miller Light Taste Zone deck while the first base patio is named the Coors Light Cold Zone.
The deck levels have patio furniture for lounging and also have bar stools and standing counters for fans to congregate around while watching the game. There are flat screen televisions everywhere so you’ll never miss any of the action on the field.
The press box at Salt River Fields is one of the nicest facilities I have ever seen. There are two levels with desks, outlets, and network connectivity for the press during games. Based on the signs around the press box there is also wireless network connectivity that will be available.
Adjacent to the press box is a media dining room and coolers that will hold cold drinks. Clearly the Diamondbacks and Rockies are taking good care of the members of the press who cover the teams.
The tour then went down onto the field with guests having an opportunity to have their pictures taken in the Diamondbacks and Rockies dugouts. The field looks amazing and you could almost imagine games being played there next week.
Beyond the first base seats along the main concourse is a whiffle ball field for the kids. The field has artificial turf and will be a great place for the kids to play during the game when they have too much energy to sit in the stands and watch the games.
There are three team shops at Salt River Fields. Beyond the right field wall is the Rockies team shop while the Diamondbacks team shop is beyond the left field wall. Behind the batter’s eye in center field is the third team shop location, which is shared by Arizona and Colorado. Merchandise was being stocked to be ready for the first game next weekend.
The tour continued to the Diamondbacks facilities including a look at the office area and a brief look at the minor league training room and conditioning areas. I have not seen that many physical training tables since my last shoulder surgery. Medical supplies were being stocked including what looked like enough tape to stretch from Phoenix to Denver.
After seeing the strength and conditioning areas the tour went outside to the practice fields. Today was the first day of workouts for the entire team. Position players had arrived and taken physicals. The four diamonds in the cloverleaf were filled with Diamondbacks players and coaches.
Today’s workouts included bunting practice, infield drills, and some batting practice. Pitcher Micah Owings who signed a minor league contract showed he could still hit sending several balls over the fence.
The practice fields are open to the general public and there are bleachers at each field to allow fans to watch the players go through their workouts. At specified intervals players would move from one field to the next and several took time to sign autographs for the fans.
Outside the Diamondbacks facility in the back is an agility drills field for the players. After morning workouts manager Kirk Gibson requires players to take 10 minutes to interact with the fans and sign autographs making sure the team stays connected to its fan base.
After a lunch on the patio overlooking the Diamondbacks side of the facility the group went back to the Miller Lite Taste Zone for a question and answer session with several members of the Diamondbacks.
The Q&A session was interrupted when wind and rain came up which gusted at one point and flipped a speaker on a tripod to flip over the edge of the deck towards ground level. Thanks to the quick work of Diamondbacks officials they caught the speaker before it tumbled down 20 feet to the concrete below.
The sessions were moved from the windy patio back to the Press Box. Director of Publications Greg Salvatore spoke along with Special Assistant Roland Hemond. They both told stories of baseball and fielded questions from the group.
Diamondbacks radio personality Greg Schulte then entertained the crowd with stories from his career and childhood. Special Assistant Bob Gebhard who was the Diamondbacks point man during the construction of Salt River Fields followed Schulte.
He spoke about the facility and how after Spring Training the Diamondbacks and Rockies would each turn back three practice fields to the Indian Community to allow them to schedule the complex for baseball tournaments and camps strengthening the community.
The day ended with Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams speaking to the group. He talked about changing the culture in the clubhouse and what the coaches planned to accomplish during Spring Training.
Overall it was a very enjoyable day filled with memories I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I came away not only excited for Spring Training games to begin at Salt River Fields on February 26th but also for Opening Day which begins on April 1st for the Diamondbacks.
If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of these Baseball Interactive clinics I strongly recommend it. It is an opportunity to get to know the team better and better understand the philosophy of the organization and their coaches and players.