The hot Arizona sun in July is enough to drive even the most dedicated fans into the shade, and that was a key reason the Diamondbacks built Chase Field in 1999 with a retractable roof.
With that in mind and the spotlight of the 2011 All-Star Game coming to Phoenix in July, the Diamondbacks are building a shade that will shield the ballpark’s main entrance from the sun and will be covered by solar panels, providing 75 kilowatts of power—enough to power eight or nine homes.
“The biggest part of this is the All-Star Game in Phoenix this summer when our ballpark will be on the biggest stage since the 2001 World Series,” vice president of communications Shaun Rachau said. “We want to make it more comfortable for fans that haven’t been here before and make it more enjoyable in the summer months when people are coming to our ballpark.”
The sun shade will cost about $1 million and is being built by APS, the power company in Phoenix. The electricity generated by the solar panels will feed directly into the power grid, and will not necessarily help power Chase Field.
APS will also use the sun shade as a lab to experiment with powering electric car charging stations directly from solar panels and how to store solar energy after dark, APS spokesman Dan Wool said.
The sun shade is expected to be ready by Opening Day on April 8, and the project will be fully operational by May.
Rachau said the team wanted to expand the shade to cover the ticket office, but APS didn’t think enough power would be generated in that area. So the Diamondbacks will likely erect an additional shade in the near future.
From his experiences as a fan at Diamondbacks games, Wool said he was looking forward to the sun shade.
“Where it’s going is kind of a natural gathering point for fans,” he said. “As a fan, I can tell you you’re trying to find shade there. We’re all really excited about it.”
Fenway Renovations Complete
The Red Sox completed a 10-year renovation of Fenway Park during the winter. The final stage included waterproofing and replacing roughly 10,000 seats in right field.
Three new video boards were installed in center field as well, the centerpiece being an LED scoreboard that’s 100 feet wide and 38 feet tall. The renovations this offseason cost about $40 million and the Red Sox estimated the 10-year project totaled $285 million.
“This is the end of the 10-year period of renovations that our ownership committed to from the first day,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said during an unveiling of the renovations in February, according to the Boston Herald. “This is a major final installment. There are some exciting things that fans are going to see, including the three new video boards in the outfield.
“That’s not to say that no money will be spent going forward. There will be some maintenance repair and smaller projects that inevitably will come up. But we’re really proud of the investment that has been made in the ballpark since we came to town.”
The team also completed a major overhaul of the ballpark’s main Gate D concourse area, including new concrete surfaces on the concourse ramps and a variety of new concession items.
“The bumpiness that you’d walk through is being corrected now, so you’ll be able to make your way from the Gate D area, all the way around to Gate C in the right field concourse,” Red Sox executive vice president of business affairs Jonathan Gilula said at the Fenway event, according to WBUR.org.
Red Sox owner John Henry told Baseball America correspondent Alex Speier that if there had been massive public funding available for a new ballpark, the Red Sox may have considered moving into a new park instead of renovating Fenway. However, the improvements mean Fenway Park will remain the home of the Red Sox for at least the next 30-40 years.
Fenway has gone through a significant overhaul since Henry took over ownership of the team in 2002. Among the changes that have helped update the historic park, which will see its 99th Opening Day this spring, include: new restrooms and concession areas, a new high-end seating area above the main concourse, the “Monster Seats” atop the left-field wall and additional seating placed on the right-field roof.
Around The Majors
Several teams are also completing renovations to their home parks. Here are a handful of changes you’ll find around the majors this season:
Houston Astros: In addition to two new video boards in Minute Maid Park this year, the Astros are opening a premium club seating area where the writers’ press box used to be located.
The new seating area will include an up-scale bar and dining area. The writers, meanwhile, will move up a level, to where the broadcast press box is located. The new video boards were installed in time for the Houston College Classic baseball tournament at Minute Maid Park in March.
Minnesota Twins: Just a year after the opening of Target Field, the Twins are already making changes to the park. A new video board has been installed in right field, allowing more fans to see replays. The Twins will also expand the amount of radiant heat in the ballpark, helping keep fans warm during cold Minneapolis nights. Finally, the team will provide wireless Internet access in Target Field, helping speed up smart phones and other mobile devices in the stadium.
Seattle Mariners: In an effort to expand Safeco Field’s concession offerings, the Mariners are renovating the area formerly known as the Bullpen Market and renaming it “The Pen.” The new concessions feature creations from three prominent chefs, such as French crepes and Mexican tortas. The Mariners are also installing an LED scoreboard wrapping around the second deck, replacing six smaller existing scoreboards in the same area.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodger Stadium field got new sod in February, and the Dodgers will have a new alternate uniform to wear on their new field. A baby-blue throwback jersey the Brooklyn Dodgers wore as their road uniform in the 1940s will be worn April 21st for the first of six times this season.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies will boast the largest video board in the National League this season after the installation of a 76-foot-by-97-foot high-definition display in left field. The old video board has been moved to the Phillies’ spring training facility in Clearwater, Fla. All the televisions in Citizens Bank Park will be HD this season and feature a new closed-captioning system.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates are also trying to be more environmentally friendly, replacing all lights in PNC Park with energy-efficient lamps. The seven suites in the park that represent the Pirates’ World Series titles are each being outfitted with more memorabilia and photos from the year they are dedicated to.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are opening The Comiskey Park Grill in U.S. Cellular Field this spring. It will feature typical ballpark staples like hamburgers, as well as ribs and beef brisket. The restaurant will be open before, during and after all White Sox games.
Kansas City Royals: The Royals will be trading bullpens with the visitors this year. Kansas City will move into the left field bullpen at Kauffman Stadium for the first time since the park opened in 1973.