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D-backs reach out to fans with hardship

D-backs reach out to fans

PHOENIX -- Derrick Hall was amazed as he listened to the story.

A season-ticket holder explained to the D-backs' team president that her financial situation had changed dramatically and she could no longer afford her tickets. One of her fellow season-ticket holders purchased last year's tickets for her and made sure she got to the games.

"It really moved me what our season-ticket holders would do for each other," Hall said.

And so he began to think about what the organization could do for its season-ticket holders that were struggling.

The result is the first-of-its-kind season-ticket scholarship plan for fans experiencing financial hardships. The D-backs plan to award tickets, free of charge, for all 2008 home games to at least 12 families.

"They're going to be good seats, too," Hall said. "It's important that the D-backs experience be all-inclusive regardless of economic status. If we can create an outlet for some of these fans to escape some hard times and daily troubles as they rearrange and improve their lives, we will enjoy perhaps our greatest victory. It's something we are committed to."

Fans can apply for the program by filling out an online form and self-nominations will be allowed but should be supported by additional personal references. No photos or videos will be accepted and only one self-nomination per person is allowed.

The deadline for nominations is 5 p.m. MST on Dec. 1. Once all the nominations are in, the selection process will begin, and the team plans on notifying the winners no later than Dec. 15.

"We're going to give priority to current season-ticket holders that have seen their economic situations change," Hall said. "After that, it will be fans who can demonstrate financial need along with their love of baseball and the Diamondbacks."

Depending on a family's circumstance, the team may also contribute concessions, parking or transportation relief in addition to the tickets.

Those that are chosen will receive the same ticket book and will be afforded identical benefits of those given to paid season-ticket holders.

"We feel really good about this program," Hall said. "I'd love to have it grow even larger in the future."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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