Name: Chase Field
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Opened: 31 march 1998
Architect: Ellerbe Becket; Wyatt/Rhodes; Castillo Company; Cox James
Cost: $354 Million
Capacity: 48,500 (original)
Surface: Natural grass (original)
Shaw Sports B1K synthetic (current)
Chase Field is a tricky one for me. It's an indoor park, which I don't love, but it's in Phoenix, which routinely gets about 110 degrees during the summer, so baseball would not just be uncomfortable, it would be downright dangerous. And, to their credit, the Diamondbacks to seem to try to keep the roof open whenever it is possible, unlike other retractable-roof ballparks who keep it closed even in beautiful conditions (I'm looking at you, Houston and Miami.) It's interesting to note that Chase Field (then called Bank One Ballpark) was the first retractable-roof stadium built that was designed and opened with a natural grass playing field.)
Similarly, they recently transitioned from natural grass to synthetic turf, but -- again -- we're going to give them a pass, and maybe even our enthusiastic support. Phoenix, Arizona is not a climate where field-quality grass grows naturally. By converting the park to the B1K playing surface by Shaw Sports, they are saving an estimated two million gallons of water per season. In such an arid region of the country -- heck, in any circumstance -- saving two million gallons of water has got to be a good thing.
And, by all reports, the Shaw system is the most life-like grass replacement going. (Note: we're still not giving you a pass on having turf, Miami. The whole reason you have a closed ballpark is that you get TOO MUCH rain. So the whole water-conservation story doesn't play there.)
The outfield walls have giant panels that also rotate open (see above), giving the park an even more "open" feeling when the roof is open, which adds a lot.
The ambiance at a Diamondbacks game is pretty good; baseball indoors (even for the altruistic reasons listed above) still doesn't feel the same. (I haven't been to a game with the roof open, so I'll hold off final verdict.)
The amenities and sightlines are all good -- this can be said about almost all parks built after 1990 or so -- and the food options are above-average. The park is, relatively speaking, right in downtown Phoenix, which in many cities would be a good thing. But there's not a ton of walking-around-downtown happening in Phoenix, so some of that benefit is lost.
All in all, we like Chase Field. It makes the best of making baseball happen in a place where, to be honest, baseball couldn't otherwise happen. Like with most of these parks, if you're a baseball fan and you're in town when there's a game? You should try to catch it. Because, everything else aside, it's still baseball, and going to a baseball game virtually always beats anything else you could be doing instead.
As always, give us your comments on Chase Field for a chance to win the FIRST PRINT off the press when this title is released later this summer!