With the Subway D-backs Fan Fest’s move to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the team’s CEO Derrick Hall is promising unprecedented access to players, coaches and broadcasters from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, February 20.
“We moved it for two reasons,” Hall says. “No. 1, the date we were looking at was booked here at Chase Field. We preferred the date of February 18, so we checked out Salt River Fields. It worked. Knock on wood, the weather’s perfect. There’s more space and we’re excited about the move.
“That’s the perfect time of year for Salt River Fields. The grounds look phenomenal. The grass is ready for Spring Training and for the players. People really enjoy being out at the Spring Training facility.”
February 18 was eventually moved to February 20, due to impending storms.
Hall says that Salt River Fields’ space is conducive to holding an event of this magnitude.
“We have larger fields for players to throw to the kids,” he says. “We can use our half fields. There will be more of a flow. There will be quality interactive Q&A sessions with broadcasters, front office staff, players and coaching staff.”
D-backs brass is considering different concessionaires, food trucks and anything else festive.
“The drawback for me at Chase Field was the grass was not ready,” Hall says. “It was dead and dusty, especially when we close the roof. This is a totally different look and feel. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
There is one downfall.
“We would label the seats and fans could go and pick out season tickets from here,” Hall says. “But we’ll get around it. We’ll have mapping, and they’ll still have the opportunity to purchase season tickets out there.”
One of the most popular parts of Fan Fest is the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation Yard Sale, which has featured $3 T-shirts, 25-cent glasses, $5 baseballs, $30 practice jerseys, $2 bobbleheads, $3 backpacks as well as signage from Chase Field.
“Proceeds go to the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation,” he says. “We’re going to expand the yard sale as well. We can now increase the square footage and the amount of merchandise we have to sell there for the foundation.”
Gates for the event open at 11 a.m. for season ticket holders and noon for the general public.
“We open earlier for season ticket holders,” Hall explains. “They get first dibs for an hour before the actual gates open up to the general public.”
Admission is free for Fan Fest, save for autograph sessions with the players for adults. Children 12 and younger will receive free autographs in a special area, while others can receive access to autograph sessions with a donation to the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation. Online autograph presales for specific sessions will be made available to fans prior to Fan Fest. Visit http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/ari/fan_forum/fanfest.jsp for more information.
It all goes with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ desire to be the most fan-friendly team in sports.
“The point is to not really guard our players from anyone,” Hall says. “They’re as fan-friendly as any players I’ve ever seen. They really get it.
“The response and feedback from them as been good. They enthusiastically embrace the concept. We never get pushback from them. That’s the way our players are. They like to interact with the fans. We’re very unique in that way, compared to other Major League baseball teams.”
Sure, it’s exciting to meet players like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock at Fan Fest. Hall finds another bonus.
“Anytime we start planning for Fan Fest, we know that the season is right around the corner.”
Subway D-backs Fan Fest, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 602.462.6500, http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/ari/fan_forum/fanfest.jsp, noon to 4 p.m. Monday, February 20, free.