As Humongous Ballparks Go, This One Still Smells OK.
By Tom Danehy
I SAW BOB the other day. It says "Hi."
BOB is the Bank One Ballpark, the brand-spanking-new home of the
Arizona Diamondbacks, the Grand Canyon State's entry in what used
to be the major leagues. It's a magnificent facility, complete
with a retractable roof, bathrooms that don't have that dirty- sweatsocks- left- in- a- damp- plastic- bag- all- summer
smell yet, and real grass on the field. Plus, they have a great
slogan: "We're not as good as the Suns, but at least we're
not the Cardinals."
Still, I can't help but wonder: Why in the world they would spend
this much money to build such a magnificent venue for a dying
BOB is smack in the middle of downtown Phoenix. A Tucsonan almost
wants to curse at the fact that Phoenix people are doing it right
by focusing on the downtown area, but then you realize that you
had to drive through three more layers of subdivisions to get
into town than you had to just a couple months ago. Phoenix adds
layers like tree rings, only at a much faster rate.
I'm just waiting to see what happens when developers run out
of nonsensical Spanish phrases with which to name their subdivisions.
Then what happens? Heck, they've already got some which translate
to "Casual Cattle Breezes," "Green Cottonwood Sunsets,"
and "Canyon Table Desert Floor Ridge Flower, Phase II."
You can't say that about the Phoenix Cardinals.
- While it's nice they built it downtown, I truly wish they
had gone to the 'burbs. Parking is heck, even with a parking pass.
And when you get ready to leave, you'd better take off during
the seventh-inning stretch or bring a book to read after the game
while the other 40,000 peasants are streaming out of the lot.
One of those big books, the kind that if you dropped it from waist-level,
you could kill small animals.
And what happens when the Suns and D'Backs are playing at the
same time? Or maybe throw in a big convention at the Convention
Center? We're talking real hot fun in the summertime.
- Like others who came before him, Jerry Colangelo, the
president of the Diamondbacks, is a man of vision, one who looked
at the desert and saw it blooming with possibilities. A straight-arrow
who has built an empire through hard work and determination. Yes,
Jerry is like Del Webb, but without the mob money. Instead, he
used your money.
- As I said, BOB is beautiful. Great sight lines from all
over the park. Nice atmosphere. But then they went and put a picnic
area and a swimming pool out beyond the outfield fence. I can
hear Jeff Foxworthy right now. "If you spend $200 million
of taxpayer money to build a baseball stadium and you decide to
put a swimming pool in it, you might be a redneck."
Who designed this thing, Jethro Bodine? Whoever it was shoulda
left out the ce-ment pond.
- Another unique feature of the field is that there's a
grassless strip running from home plate to the pitcher's mound,
making the field look like something out of the '30s.
Actually, it's very '90s. That way, after being brushed back,
the sissy batter will be able to find his way to the mound to
start the bitch-slap fight with the pitcher.
- Most impressive (and most frustrating) is the retractable
roof. It takes only a few minutes to open or close it and get
the temperature down below the triple-digit level. I just wish
they'd installed more than two swamp coolers.
Actually, they could have saved money on that swimming pool and
put in more coolers. That way the ballpark wouldn't look so garish
and they could have used that space in the outfield for...oh,
I don't know, how 'bout some SEATS?! You know, the kind that someone
other than the Sultan of Brunei can afford.
The Diamondbacks do put a couple hundred seats on sale on game
days for a buck. But when you're standing in line for six hours
waiting for the ticket window to open, Jerry Colangelo's grandkids
come along and offer to sell you ice-cold lemonade for $7 a cup.
- What's frustrating about the roof is that it exists at
all. Back before the Cardinals sold themselves on the street to
Phoenix, I had dreams of an Arizona-based National Football League
team, one which would play outdoors in the heat and just sap every
drop of strength out of their opponents.
It would be sweet. I love the fact that people in Green Bay and
Pittsburgh play in that nasty winter cold. You wouldn't see those
people screaming for a domed stadium. The weather is their ally;
so should it be in Arizona. That's why I hate the fact that the
University of Arizona moved away from having its home football
opener on Labor Day weekend when it's hot and nasty and just the
perfect time to play a team from Oregon or Washington.
I appreciate the fact that they have real grass in there; I just
hope they keep the roof open as much as possible.
- I saw Guy Atchley wearing a shiny purple Diamondbacks'
jacket, and now I'm going to have to sleep with the lights on
for a long time. And after I took the time to pad my expense account,
now I'm going to have to use the money to pay my electric bill,
which will go to Tucson Electric, which is the name on the ballpark
in Tucson, where the Diamondbacks play.
If I had a much lower IQ (and was therefore Republican), I'd
say Jerry Colangelo sits at the very head of the Trilateral Commission.
- During the game, I thought for a moment that I saw a real
black person sitting in the crowd. But then I remembered that
this is Phoenix and this is baseball. It turned out to be George
Hamilton, the kind of third-tier celebrity that one can often
find in Phoenix.
- As for the team itself: They stink. But they're an expansion
team and they're supposed to stink. At press time, they still
hadn't won a game, but considering they get to play 162 of 'em,
including several with the equally-awful Tampa Bay Devil Rays,
they'll probably win some this year.