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Chase Field ready to raise curtain on 2011

Chase Field ready to raise curtain on 2011

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Chase Field ready to raise curtain on 2011
PHOENIX -- While the D-backs were opening the 2011 season in Denver and Chicago, Graham Rossini was back in Phoenix making sure that when the gates open at Chase Field for Friday's home opener, fans will be treated to a first-class experience.

Such is the life of the senior director of special projects and fan experiences.

It's been a busy 12-month stretch for Rossini, who was a key player in overseeing the construction of the D-backs' lavish new Spring Training facility, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

And while that was going on, he was also serving as a chief liaison between the D-backs and Major League Baseball to coordinate the All-Star Game, which will be played at Chase Field this year.

As soon as the D-backs played their final game of the spring, though, Rossini turned his attention strictly to Friday's opener.

"It's nice to have that week in between the close of Spring Training and the start of the regular season at home," Rossini said. "It gives us a chance to close up things at Salt River Fields and have time to make sure that everything is ready for the opener."

Among Rossini's main responsibilities are working with Levy Restaurants and the team shop to make sure that the food and souvenir concessions operate without a hitch.

There will be several changes with regards to the food available at the ballpark this summer. Fatburger has added a location in section 120, while Macayo's Restaurant now has a permanent location in the upper deck, near section 314.

There will be no more Peter Piper Pizza in the ballpark. The chain will be replaced by Streets of New York.

For those looking for healthier fare, the club is opening a stand near section 107 that will offer traditional ballpark food like hot dogs and nachos, with the difference being that the products are gluten free.

Meanwhile, the very popular value items on the menus have not gone up in price this year.

"We've protected that," Rossini said. "That was big for us, because affordability is critical. We want fans to know we're an affordable option, and you can experience a game without digging into your wallet at every turn."

As for merchandise, there will be plenty of items bearing the 2011 All-Star Game logo available for fans at the home opener, and another round of merchandise will come in around mid-May. By the time late-June rolls around, the team shop will contain nearly 100 percent All-Star merchandise -- with such things as numbered jerseys, batting practice jerseys and fleeces.

"We want to make sure we have plenty of All-Star Game product to go through," Rossini said. "The logo has been very popular, and it's exciting to showcase that merchandise because it's a really good looking product. We've paid close attention the past couple of years to what other markets have sold from an All-Star standpoint -- and since it's such a national event, we've got the ability to sell hoodies and fleece pullovers and some of that great Majestic outerwear that we otherwise normally wouldn't sell."

Later this summer, in anticipation of the September reunion weekend for the 2001 World Series team, the team shop will sell throwback jerseys, hats and the like.

For now, though, the home opener is the focus.

"It [has been] a busy week making sure the ballpark is ready, clean, presentable and in good shape," Rossini said.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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