Despite the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of all Prognosticators, that lovable weather predicting groundhog; spring is coming. The temperatures are beginning to move upward, the sun is shining, and the roof to Chase Field is open. But perhaps the most telling sign that spring is just around the corner is that it is time for the Arizona Diamondbacks FanFest.
Done are the blasphemous rituals where motorcycles, four-wheelers, and monster trucks roam the sacred grounds of the home of the Diamondbacks. The dirt that covered the infield and outfield has been removed unveiling the once green turf that reminds every baseball fan of summer. The dormant grass has taken a beating and soon will be replaced with fresh new sod but before that happens Diamondbacks fans have an opportunity to run and stand where some of their baseball heroes have stood.
The gates to Chase Field would open to the general public at 11 AM. Season Ticket Holders would be able to enter an hour earlier at 10 AM. That was not soon enough for some dedicated, die hard fans who arrived at the ballpark at 6:30 AM to secure their place at the front of the line.
I have to admit, as much as I love baseball and the Arizona Diamondbacks even I had no inclination to be down to the ballpark as the sun first peaked over the horizon. Not only is that way too early for me but the APS Solar Pavilion is stinking cold on an early February morning.
Still, I will admit that I had a hard time sleeping the night before and was eager to be down to Chase Field for an opportunity to be back at the ballpark. Entering through the gates is a little bit like walking through mom’s front door at Thanksgiving. The smells and memories flood over you as you think back to everything that has happened at this magical place.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem too long ago that the Diamondbacks were hosting the Milwaukee Brewers in a National League Divisional Series that would break the hearts of fans everywhere when the Brewers won in extra innings at Miller Park in game 5.
I stood at the top of the concourse and looked out upon the playing field. Instead of green grass and players warming up before the game the sight today was one of inflatable toys beyond second base and throngs of people milling about at the various booths or walking down into the Diamondbacks dugout.
Before long the gates to the general public opened and soon you could not see the playing surface for all the people. The event ran from 11 AM to 3 PM and the Diamondbacks estimated over 25,000 people attended, more than double those who attended last year.
Clearly this team has captured the eye of local fans and expectations are growing daily about how well this team should do in the 2012 season. Hopefully all of those people who attended FanFest today will go home and tell all of their friends about how great the event was and they will come back when baseball season officially starts.
The excitement at Chase Field is contagious and it only takes a couple of times before you’ll be hooked. And what better place to spend an afternoon or evening than in a retractable roof stadium watching a winning baseball team fight to get back to the playoffs. This could be the year and nobody wants to miss out.