Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series reviewing Major League Baseball stadiums and desperate plea for its fans not to visit all of them. You really do have more important things to do with your life.
There is such a thing as a law of diminishing returns.
I really enjoyed Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first time I went years ago. Back then, it was the first Major League Baseball game I traveled out of California to see — the Dodgers and D-backs. It was my first game in a domed stadium, and watching baseball indoors for the first time is unforgettable. You miss some of the game because you find yourself staring at this marvel of construction, a building tall enough to seat more than 48,000 people on the periphery and yet big enough in the center to play professional baseball.
And both teams were vying for a playoff spot that year. So it was a wonderful experience, complete with the junior college dropouts in the parking lot afterward offering you free passes to see them strip later at the local dancing cabarets.
So I don’t want to disparage professional baseball in Phoenix, at least not then.
Here’s why I do now:
In my opinion, the Diamondbacks have devolved into a somewhat petulant organization. The first big clue came when the Dodgers won the NL Western Division title there in 2013 and decided to celebrate by taking a dip in a swimming pool behind the right-field fence after the game. The front office, the players, anyone pulling a check all decried such loutish behavior to soil their fair swimming pool. They even paid for security guards to protect the pool in case those blue bastards decided to jump in again.
To which anyone with a modicum of common sense would reply, you’ve just run around in a city with 110 degree temperatures and there’s a swimming pool nearby. Cannonball!
The second reason I’m no longer keen on desert baseball is because the franchise is threatening to leave Phoenix if its demands for a new stadium are not met. The D-Backs might have some leverage. The Las Vegas suburb of Henderson might pony up for a new stadium.
But if the Atlanta Braves left a perfectly functional Turner Field after about 20 years and were called a bunch of filthy corporate welfare whores for sucking a new stadium out of the public teat, the Diamondbacks are even worse. Chase Field is actually a very comfortable and affordable place to watch a game, more so than Turner Field. It is also in a safer part of Phoenix than the neighborhood the Braves once called home.
There are perhaps two things you could say negatively about Chase Field. One is the interior bears a striking resemblance to Miller Park in Milwaukee. At least the construction crew took heed and painted the place forest green instead of that Amazon distribution warehouse hue in Wisconsin. Having said that, it is extremely difficult to make the interior of a domed stadium look cozy. Domes are big, monolithic airplane hangars. That won’t change no matter if the team stays or moves to Nevada. Nobody wants to watch a game outdoors in 115 degree heat. Stick with ugly comfort, guys. You have no choice.
The second problem is that the Diamondbacks, through the self-inflicted wounds of negative press brought on by poor results and false claims of poverty, rarely fill up the stadium now. Heck, Phoenix is no longer considered a viable sports town. The beloved Suns have been a laughingstock in the NBA for almost a decade. The Cardinals have had three coaches in as many years and as for the Coyotes? Their arena is just 17 years old and the rumor is they want to move to a city that they say likes hockey — Houston.
The last time I went to Chase Field, I think it was three years ago, the woeful D-Backs played an afternoon game against the equally irrelevant Phillies. Parking and the ticket cost maybe 25 bucks. I sat in the left field bleachers with some Phillies fans and marveled at the upper deck instead of the closed roof. The deck was vacant, except for one lady who twirled colored flags for the entire nine innings — a one woman spirit squad that picked up different banners and spun them any which way you could imagine. The locals told me she was there every game. Nobody knows why. Nobody knows if she actually watches or comprehends baseball. Maybe people are privately relieved that this is her way of gaining attention, as opposed to mass murder or public nudity.
So yeah, Chase Field suffers from the law of diminishing returns. It’s neither handsome nor ugly. It is comfortable and affordable, but not particularly memorable. Even worse, if the team leaves Phoenix is likely done for as a major sports town.
Which I don’t want, to be honest.
I see opportunity in Phoenix if only the Diamondbacks would invest in Chase Field as other teams have in their stadiums. Arizona could have added outfield seats when the stadium debuted, but it intentionally sacrificed prime spots for the small swimming pool in right field. Now, other teams have ripped out some seats for bars. Why stop at a small swimming pool? Have the biggest swimming pool/bar known to man just behind the entire outfield fence. Girls get in free with their own two-piece bikini and every poor sucker gets taken to the cleaners for drinks and inner tubes.
What have you got to lose? You know damn well that’s what your fan base would be if you moved to Vegas, anyway. And as previously established, you have enough girls from the strip clubs and Hooters within walking distance of Chase Field. The girls are there, and they like baseball.
Soil that pool, even if the people wear blue.