PHOENIX -- The 2011 All-Star Game is still eight months away, but the Arizona Diamondbacks' preparations are already in overdrive. The team has recoated and repainted the Chase Field roof to make it look brand new and new high definition lineup boards will be replacing the matrix ones, which were put up when the stadium opened in 1998. In addition, the ballpark's party suites have been redone. "We want this place to look as state of the art as any ballpark in the game," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "From an aesthetics point of view, it was very important to us that [the roof] look brand new for the All-Star Game."
In fact, the process started a few years back when the team put in LED boards, replaced the entire sound system and put in a high-definition scoreboard that is the second largest in the game behind only Kansas City. The city and state helped as well, building a METRO Light Rail system stop right outside of Chase Field. "We're in good shape, we really are," Hall said. The 82nd All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 12, but that is only one of the events. There will be a FanFest that begins the Saturday before that, not to mention a Futures Game showcasing the game's best young talent on Sunday as well as a celebrity softball game Sunday and the Home Run Derby on Monday night. The D-backs have already had several meetings with MLB executives and important city and state officials as part of the planning process, and Major League Baseball will be back in town after the first of the year to continue the work. The next big decision on the agenda will be deciding on the ticket-pricing structure for the game. The D-backs' average ticket prices were the lowest in the Majors last season, according to Team Marketing Report's annual Fan Cost Index report. It was the fourth year the D-backs were ranked as having the lowest ticket prices and trying to keep the All-Star Game tickets available is a priority for Hall. "Typically, season-ticket holders, sponsors, those that have first priority gobble up the majority of the tickets," Hall said. "But we're going to do all we can to preserve a large amount of tickets for the general public, too, to come see this." And when the fans do show up, the team wants to make sure they are comfortable in the scorching summer temperatures. With that in mind, the team is looking into possible ways of reducing the heat on the main plaza outside the ballpark. With temperatures over 100 degrees in the summer in Phoenix, the ballpark's roof will likely be closed for both the Home Run Derby as well as the All-Star Game itself. "We'll make sure the temperature is plenty cool inside the doors, but we're going to do all we can whether it's misting stations, extra fans, shade structures to make sure that everyone is comfortable," Hall said. "We want to make sure we're providing adequate comfort for our fans outside the gates. It will be a little warm at that time obviously but the city will look beautiful and downtown will be alive." The Midsummer Classic and the events surrounding it are expected to bring nearly $60 million in direct economic impact to an Arizona economy, which suffered more than most in the recent economic recession. In addition, the game is expected to deliver upwards of $150 million in indirect economic impact throughout the state. "The revenue that it's going to generate for our local economy at a time when we need it more than ever is something that I'm very proud of," Hall said. "This city and this state needs a shot in the arm and the All-Star Game will provide. We're going to bring in a lot of money from outside of this state." The D-backs also plan on pumping money into the economy as they try to promote the game locally. Not just to sell tickets, that won't be a problem, but to try and get fans that are not coming to the game to watch it on TV. "What's important for us is to make sure that our ratings here in this market are very strong," Hall said. "Major League Baseball likes, obviously, for the host city to have strong ratings, so we're going to promote it as best we can. I think everyone here will watch it and enjoy it because it's a point of pride. To be able to put Chase Field on an international stage like that when you would hope all eyeballs would be on it is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty of our ballpark and the greatness of our market. We have a lot to be proud of."