Hall chats from Tucson with fans
D-backs' president chats during first spring game
Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall chatted with fans during the club's first Spring Training game in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday afternoon. While enjoying the team's performance, Hall answered fans' questions regarding the offseason improvements to Chase Field, season tickets, Fan Fest and having the roof open more during the season.
Derrick Hall: Welcome everyone. It is great to be chatting with you live from Tucson Electric Park, where I just left my seat to come up to the Press Box.
tswinders: I know you have talked about the roof being open longer, but how long can we expect it to be open this year? The park is so much better with it open.
Hall: I would love to have it open more, as you know. However, we need to keep sun and heat in mind when it comes to fans on the first base side. I am looking more so at night games. With the day games, we will experiment to perhaps open the roof partially like we did for the World Baseball Classic. We need to be certain that there is no weather or wind coming into the area, as well. If we are ever in a position to go either way -- opened or closed, I will lean towards open.
chikid11: What else are the D-backs doing to increase attendance? It seems MLB had a record attendance year last year but we struggle to get "cheeks in the seats."
Hall: You are right, and we can do better and need to do better. We have focused strongly on pricing, providing more seats for fans at the $5 level. We have the largest promotional calendar in our team's history as well, with six bobbleheads and four McFarlane figurines, to name a few. We will have special events at the ballpark, such as postgame concerts, and will create more family destinations. We have also added the Diamond Club in the outfield, a new spot to hang out and watch the game.
russinaz: Hi, Derrick. When will a larger selection of the new clothes, etc., be available?
Hall: We have received many new styles this week. The Team Shops are filling up with some great new looks. We will have several new items before Opening Day. It is great to see so many fans here in the stands wearing the new colors. Our Team Shop sold double the amount of items at Fan Fest as compared to last year, which is a great sign, too.
tswinders: How are season ticket sales coming? I know we had a good renew rate but how are the new sales coming?
Hall: Renewal rate was strong, as you mentioned. I would like to see us get to 20,000 season tickets in the next 3-5 years, so we need to pick up the pace. I think when fans realize the benefits to being a season ticket holder, in addition to the forecast for this young team and the new pricing structure, we will see movement. Single-game sales have been real strong. We sold 50% more on the first day compared to last year.
azjazzyj: Are you anticipating a sell-out for the home opener on April 9?
Hall: We expect to be close. Last year we had about 40,000 in the stands for our opener. It doesn't help that we open on the road. However, there is such a buzz and excitement for this new team, we expect to sell more seats. I certainly believe the home opener should be a sell-out each and every year. It is a special occasion.
marlinsgurl18: Is there anyone on the team whom you are expecting to have a phenomenal year?
Hall: We are excited about so many of our players, as are the experts. I think we can expect great production from all of our guys -- Conor Jackson, Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Chad Tracy, Eric Byrnes, Carlos Quentin, Chris Snyder, Orlando Hudson, etc. Not to mention our starting rotation, the only team to feature four that were all Opening Day starters last year -- Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez, and Doug Davis.
azjohn6: Hi, Mr Hall. Is Eric Byrnes going to be in left field the whole year? He will be an excellent player for the franchise.
Hall: He is a special player. He already has a filthy uniform from the first game down here. We certainly expect him to be. He helps us in so many ways -- personality, defense, offense, and attitude. He, Young and Quentin give us one of the strongest defensive outfields in the game.
rereit: I'm listening to the first game on MLB.com -- it sounds like things are going really well. How is the game in person?
Hall: It is going well. We are 5-1 in the fourth inning and our young guys look great. The field looks great and the new uniforms look even better. Brandon Webb made it look easy again.
rattpoison: Was it your idea to switch the team colors? I know I'm ordering the jersey/hat combo for my son.
Hall: I was one of many. We had a group of about six that took part in the decision. It was not an easy process, but I think we came up with some great new looks. FYI, and you all heard it here first, we have decided how the jerseys will be worn. White is naturally our home uniform and grey for the road. However, we will wear our black jersey and cap on Saturday nights at home and our red on Sundays at home. We want to wear the red at least once a series on the road, so will wear them on Tuesdays and on Sundays. There will be occasions when the home team will wear a red jersey at their home on Sundays, so when that is the case, we will wear them the night before.
azjazzyj: Is Arizona getting any closer to hosting an All-Star game?
Hall: We certainly hope so. Our city is ready for one and deserves one. The soonest that we can have one would be 2011 and we are keeping our fingers crossed and making our desires known. By then we will have light rail in place, more hotels built and a new and beautiful convention center. Stay tuned.
luckydog7: It's great having Spring Training so close to where the team plays all year. How do you see that affecting fan presence at the games?
Hall: We have so many fans here in Tucson, that it provides convenience for them. It is also close enough for our central and northern fans to drive down. With so many options around the Valley though, I think some fans wait to see us when we visit a park near their home. As long as our fans are attending games, regardless of location, and keeping a strong interest in this team, I am satisfied.
luckydog7: I recently moved, and am listening to the game on MLB.com. It sounds like there are a lot of D-backs fans at TEP today. How would you characterize the crowd?
Hall: Thanks for listening. I agree with that assessment. Although we are the visiting team, we seem to have more fans in the seats. Tucson has always supported this team well.
cherw: No question -- just wanted to let you know how great I thought it was that you mingled among the fans at Fan Fest. Nice of you to autograph things and pose with fans for photos. We know that you care what the fans think.
Hall: So nice of you to say. I had a blast with the fans at Fan Fest. I am still surprised people want my autograph and often question them about lowering the value of the other autographs by doing so! It is important for all of us in the front office, as well as our players and coaches, to interact with the fans. Seeing the smiles on kids faces around the ballpark is unbelievable. I truly believe we have the best fans in the game.
DbacksFan: I'm sitting here with my new red hat. Looks good. Question -- I have shared tickets for a couple years and want to get my own this year but can't seem to improve my location. I have talked to a sales guy. Any suggestions from you?
Hall: Feel free to contact me off-line. We have a wonderful season ticket services department, but I can walk you through our process.
azjohn6: I like small ball the best. Do you see us using more base stealing and suicide squeezes? Do we have any team speed for this?
Hall: We seem to have it all. We're not the speediest team, but we have great base runners. We have some speed with Byrnes, Drew, Hudson and Young. More importantly, we have a balanced lineup that can provide power and on-base consistency spots 1-8. It would be wonderful to have five or six guys who hit 15-25 home runs, which can potentially happen.
chikid11: What are some of the season ticket holder benefits? I just buy tickets for 12-15 games from season ticket holders I know. Am I missing out on some benefits?
Hall: Absolutely. There are many in the line of perks. Price alone is the key. We have a large variance between what our season ticket customers pay and our single game or package customers pay. We have parking, postseason ticket guarantees, early entrance into the park, season ticket gifts and roundtables, and more. We are also exploring dedicated concession lines and concession and merchandise discounts. For those who can't attend a game, we offer a ticket marketplace for our customers to recoup some cost. Feel free to call me to discuss.
rereit: How are the renovations to Chase Field coming? I understand that you're updating a lot in anticipation of the upcoming season.
Hall: The stadium is looking amazing. There will be a lot of red, but not too overwhelming. The concourses will feature a more consistent look and feel. Our Club level is remarkable. We have renovated many suites in addition to the entire concourse, and have all new food offerings on that level. We hope to have a new interactive kids area above Friday's as well, with whiffle ball fields being coordinated by our Training Centers staff. Imagine hitting home runs as a kid off of our staff in uniform with the field down below you during a game.
Hall: We have gone a bit over the time, so I need to say thank you and get back to the game -- D-backs up 6-3 in the 6th. I look forward to doing this again next month and seeing or speaking to all of you before then.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.