Upon learning of the news that Major League Baseball would be coming to the Arizona
desert, the main order of business was to get some shovels in the ground for a new
ballpark and quickly. Unlike their expansion cousins in St. Petersburg, there was no facility
in Arizona designed for this level of baseball at the time and certainly not one that would
be capable of keeping visitors comfortable in the oppressive heat of the desert sun. In the
fall of 1995 the construction of a retractable roof baseball only facility that would be
located in the Copper Square district of central Phoenix was underway. And by the time the
first pitch in Diamondbacks history was thrown, Bank One Ballpark had opened as one of
classy new venues in sports.
Outside the venue
Bank One Ballpark sits at the south end of central Phoenix in the midst of the historic
Copper Square district, so named as this area was a center for Arizona's copper industry
which had been a vital part of the economic growth of the city of Phoenix at one time.
Nowadays, Copper Square is home to an emerging entertainment and theatre district that
also includes America West Arena, home of the NBA Suns and NHL Coyotes. Most of the
downtown excitement to be found here is to the north and west of the ballpark as there is
a stark contrast between those areas and what lies to the south and east, basically vacant
lots and other nondescript areas.
There are several interesting features to be found in the main plaza area just outside the
ballpark. Like many new venues this plaza contains bricks inscribed with the names of
many people who are supporters of the club. Yet in a new twist the bricks are aligned in
and around plaques that commemorate great moments in baseball history. For those who
wish to enjoy a meal and/or a few drinks before game time there is Hi-Tops - a restaurant
and nightclub with an outdoor patio for those who actually enjoy the brutal Arizona heat.
Also found inside is a studio from which a local sports radio station broadcasts their pre
and post game show. Not to be missed here is a unique glass encased pinball style
contraption in which balls constantly roll along tracks that go up, over, and around many
different baseball-themed artifacts.
With a short walk along Jefferson Ave on the north side of the ballpark you'll be able to
see a huge and colorful mural of baseball players in action on the building's façade. At the
base of the façade is a large portrait of "The First Team" we believe this refers to the
1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings who are generally recognized to be baseball's first
professional baseball club. All of this amidst a pretty park setting.
Not to be forgotten is the old Arizona Citrus Growers Building at the southeast corner of
the building. Built in 1924, this facility is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
and was not demolished, but instead has been restored to serve as the ballpark
When you are ready to enter the building, there are misting stations at most entrances that
shoot a light spray of water onto the patrons as they pass through the turnstiles. On this
weekend, this certainly was needed as the temps soared well over 100 degrees. But it's a
Feel free to enter the park at any entrance you choose, but make sure you get a look at the
rotunda at the main entrance at the southeast corner of the building. On the floor lies a
mural of the state of Arizona with the cities and towns of the state surrounding it in circular
fashion. Looking upwards to the walls is a spectacular timeline mural of the history of
sports dating back to ancient Greece, and set even higher are colorful paintings of great
Arizona landmarks, both natural and man made.
A walk through the lower concourse at the BOB is a stroll through time in a place known as
Diamondtown. Here at Diamondtown are many images, time lines and artifacts that span
the history of the great game of baseball. Timeline murals showcasing the history of
famous events such as the All-Star Game and the World Series and other unique topics
such as the great media personnel that have made a living covering baseball. Hmmm?. We
wonder how Joe Garagiola got into that timeline!! Also interspersed between concession
kiosks are many baseball related artifacts such as Korean baseball memorabilia and former
AL batting champ Carney Lansford's Little League uniform. All of this amidst advertising,
advertising, and more advertising...ugggh!! A view of the action can also be had from
almost any point in the concourse.
Behind the outfield fences are where the interactive games can be found as well as so
much more. Baxter's (D'backs mascot) residence can be found tucked away near an
exhibit showcasing the uniforms of all Major League Baseball clubs in a locker room
setting. Many of the older clubs have uniforms from another era here as well. Behind the
centerfield wall is where Fry's picnic area is located with three rows of tables scaling
upward with a great view of the action. The main team store is also here at the lower level
with a functioning scoreboard keeping tabs of the action on the field.
The club level features a restaurant on each baseline (Fielder's Lounge, Sluggers Grill) as
well as plenty of baseball related artwork along its walls. A unique feature for those who
are here on business as Bank One Ballpark contains an office for those who need the
service of a copy machine or have to have a fax sent out and/or other business related
At each end of the club level are two restaurants with a view of the field. On the left field
side is a Friday's Bar and Grill (see also Arlington, Milwaukee) for casual dining, while the
upscale diner heads over to the Arizona Baseball Club on the right field corner.
The upper concourse features a stand where baseball fans can have their own custom
made bat created on the premises. Somewhere in the pile of junked lumber is a bat with
the misspelled name of fellow baseball roadtripper ZACH Corcoran more on him to come
in a bit. All concourses have multiple monitors to follow the action if something pulls the
fan away from their seat. At each end of the upper concourse are Miller beer gardens with
a bird's eye view of the action.
Similar to Dodger Stadium, there is no shortage of stands to find something to eat under
the name of a major corporation such as Little Ceasars, Blimpies, Ben and Jerry's, and
McDonalds. Also similar to Dodger was the ordinary menu. The exception though was a
stand featuring an item specific to the city of the visiting team, and the Farmers Market
featuring some fruits native to the area.
Three levels of kelly green seating typical of most baseball venues - lower, club, and upper
with some suites sandwiched in between. Upper deck going from foul pole to foul pole and
lower deck surrounding the playing surface save for center field where standing room is
available more on that part later. With room for 50,000 people this place has a larger
seating capacity than most and from the looks of it about sixty percent of it is in the third
deck, boy a seat up high there is probably as high as anyplace we'll visit!!
All this underneath a retractable roof that is closed more often than not as the oppressive
heat in Arizona is simply not conducive to outdoor baseball during the summer.
With a seat behind home plate there are several features that attract the eye of a fan. Up
high near the foul poles are the out of town scoreboards, with one for each league at
either foul pole. To the left and right of the main scoreboard in center field are the lineups
of the two clubs with one club on each side. Which brings us to the dominant feature of
the BOB and that is the enormous center field scoreboard/videoboard which includes
running scoreboard, dot matrix board and Daktronics LED board. All underneath the
signature THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC sign of Phoenix's major newspaper outlet.
Also not to be forgotten are six massive ad panels and companion back lit logos at the
back wall of this facility, each one of these panels show the name one of the corporations
who were stadium building partners along with the D'Backs and contributed greatly to
the construction of this facility. When the roof opens up, these panels also slide open and
offer a splendid view of Central Phoenix and beyond.
Other features to be mentioned are the standing room areas and tables that hang over
center field a la Tiger Stadium's right field porch. Also here at the BOB, the playing field
dimensions are symmetrical, with same outfield distances in left and right side of outfield
fence, definitely unique in today's new wave of ballparks.
What?? No we didn't forget about the pool. Andrew loved it. Peter did not! The most
unique feature of this facility has to be the swimming pool area beyond the right field
fence and for the low, low price of $5300 you and 34 of your friends can get the thong
bikinis out (keep them on please) and go for a dip in the pool while watching the D'Backs
in action. A word of caution here as a few baseballs have been hit into the pool for home
runs. But if it was done by a member of the home team, well then not to worry as there
some fountains behind the pool that shoot off after a homer or victory. Peter's take: "a
part of me realizes that this pool thing is unique and fun and another part sees one more
silly useless entertainment activity. I sure as heck am not thinking about a pool while
watching a game."
Retired Numbers and Banners
The Diamondbacks are one of the newer franchises in sports, yet in only its fourth season
they have already hung a banner commemorating a significant moment in their history. In
most places we have visited where a newer team is located that usually means we have to
brace ourselves for some silly, ridiculous banner that completely demeans the purpose of
raising a banner in the first place. Some examples we have seen in our travels are -
retiring a number in honor of the fans (Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild), having the
best record for an expansion team in league history (Florida Panthers), all time single
game attendance champion (Tampa Bay Lightning) the list is endless.
THANKFULLY, here in Phoenix the Diamondbacks did not do this. To quote that old Smith
Barney commercial, they hung that banner the old fashioned way, THEY EARNED IT!!! In just
their second season of existence, Arizona went out and won the NL West Championship
and the following season the banner was raised. Hats off to the D'Backs for realizing that
history is made on the field and not to be created by the front office!!
Runs, Hits, Errors, (and anything else that caught our eye)
Run...The Diamondbacks are to be commended for seeing to it that those who have
differing abilities receive equal opportunity in seating and employment as well. The
"handicapped" seating behind the plate at club level has to be the best place to watch the
game, if I ever break my leg or something to that effect I know where I want to catch some
MLB action!!! We even spotted a paraplegic usher who worked the standing room area in
right field, bravo!! But speaking of that usher...
Error...Man was that guy a pain in the neck!!! Mercilessly patrolling his little section of turf,
back and forth, back and forth, motorized wheelchair at full throttle, making certain that
everyone stood behind that yellow line with no room for error, not even so much as a toe
on the line. Two thoughts for you pal, one - you'll fit in great with the ushering crew at PNC
Park once you turn 85, and two, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres could have used you in game 6
of the '99 Stanley Cup finals to get Brett Hull out of the crease!!
Hit...Meeting up with Arizona's most famous baseball roadtrippers. The father and son
tandem of Tom and Zach Corcoran hit every MLB Park in just 57 days this summer while
criss-crossing the continent in an SUV. We hung out with them as they took us out to
dinner before Friday's game and we met up with them in the ballpark later on. We
sincerely hope to see them on our return visit in mid-November at the AWA or Sun Devil
Stadium... guys for your hospitality you are hereby inducted into the Ultimate Sports Road
Trip Hall of Fame!!! Thanks again guys!!!
Hit...Cool intro song by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer just before the game gets underway
"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends"
Hit...speaking of music..you never know who will show up at a game in Phoenix, a stadium
camera caught rock legend Alice Cooper in his seat on Saturday night?Hey Alice, next time
we're in Phoenix we'll hit Cooperstown (Alice's sports and music restaurant in Phoenix)
save us a table please!!!!
The Diamondbacks won both games we attended as reliever B.K. Kim delivered a critical
two run single for his first major league hit in Friday's game. Is it really true he was a four
time batting champion in Korea??? With Sammy Sosa and the Cubs in town there were two
big crowds on hand. Saturday's was a sellout in part thanks to a bobblehead
promotion...which leads us to?
Error...It's three hours before game time and the temps are well above 105, so where else
would you rather be than standing in line waiting for that oh so important Mark Grace
bobblehead doll!!! I suppose if it's THAAAAAT important that you wish to fry in the summer
sun like an egg on a frying pan. To use one of our favorite quotes
Hit...in most places we have visited, the ramps that take ticket holders to their seats are
normally, gray, drab, and colorless. Yet here they have brightened things up a bit with
children's artwork along the walls of the ramps. These murals were initially displayed on
the outer fence of the ballpark's construction site, and are now a permanent part of the
stadium. Well done!
To the Arizona Diamondbacks, namely Russ Amaral, VP Event Services for taking the time
out of his busy schedule to show us the ballpark, and Susan Webner, Media Coordinator
for providing us with credentials for our weekend here. For their efforts in assisting us in
Phoenix, we welcome them both to the Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of Fame.
Hmmm? red brick façade and kelly green seats, how unique (not)! The Bank One Ballpark
deserves praise as a facility that is able to host major league action in the most
inhospitable of natural conditions. At the same time, we were confused as to what style of
ballpark were they attempting to show here. Was this meant to be a retro style park with
its kelly green seats and a red brick façade.?? Or is it simply a new park with all the bells
and whistles? We came away from here seeing plenty of similarities between Bank One
and Skydome in Toronto, each with its jumbo scoreboard above centerfield and plenty of
eateries beyond the outfield fences. Also similar to Skydome was the enormous upper
deck and similar seating capacity(50,000) and save for those seats and that façade, there
was feeling that this is a ballpark carved out of a huge warehouse or office building. A
fantastic modern place to see a game and yet for some reason just did not bowl us over.
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Fan support 6
Location and neighborhood 6
Banners and history 7
In game entertainment 6
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Pool in right field 2; WOW lobby 1; USRT assist 2
August 17 and 18.
Chicago Cubs at