When the Arizona Diamondbacks take the field for their sold-out home opener on Friday, April 9, it will be the first time doing so with fans at Chase Field in 558 days.
The excitement level is high from fans and the organization. But, perhaps no one is more thrilled to see the return of roaring crowds than Diamondbacks legend and front office member Luis Gonzalez.
The team’s president and CEO, Derrick Hall, even harasses Gonzo, as he’s known, for the number of times he says any variation of “excite” during a media tour of Chase Field.
“I am excited to be here today,” Gonzalez says. “It seems like forever that we’ve all been able to come together. The team is really looking forward to opening day. Now with fans starting to come back into the ballpark, it’s an exciting time for them. There’s my second ‘exciting!’”
However, the work that the organization has put in to prepare for the upcoming season is no joke. While the fight against COVID-19 is headed in an optimal direction, with many vaccinations occurring locally daily, the Diamondbacks are still taking precautionary measures to ensure safety at games.
Capacity will be capped at just under 12,000, with unused seats being zip tied.
All tickets sold will be contactless through the MLB Ballpark app.
Masks will be required. Gaiters, handkerchiefs and face shields alone will not be acceptable.
Staff will enforce guidelines.
Not all gates will be open for entry to the ballpark, and fans will be asked to stand on ground markers to social distance as they wait to enter. Gates will also open 30 minutes later than in past years.
A new clear bag policy is being implemented. The team will give away 5,000 clear bags in the season’s first three home games.
Fans must eat in their seats. Fans will order food via the MLB Ballpark app.
Cash will not be accepted at concessions nor the team store.
“The restrictions we have in place are those we had approved before,” Hall says. “We could pivot during the season, hopefully, to allow more fans in here. But if we do it, we’re going to do it in a very responsible way, very safe way.”
The organization has addressed more than safety. Fans can experience many new features of the gameday experience.
New food options include beer cheese bratwurst; Danzeisen Dairy chocolate mint chip stack shake; poblano cheesecake; and 505 green chile, chicken bacon and ranch tots.
Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soups will have two locations for fans who desire Mexican food. New Fry’s Grab N’ Go stations will sell snacks and drinks.
Fans can play interactive games on the MLB Ballpark app. This feature was available to fans previously, but an overhaul to Chase Field’s Wi-Fi means guests can now enjoy it at the ballpark with little to no decrease in performance.
The team revamped the “D-Backs Kids Club.” Kids ages 15 and younger who participate will be rewarded for attending games and can earn various team merchandise such as posters and baseballs.