Touring baseball stadiums is as a ritual for diehard fans.
It’s baseball’s equivalent of visiting sacred ground. Every major league baseball team — including the Arizona Diamondbacks — offers public tours of the stadiums they call home. Fans like Martha Burke of Georgia never miss an opportunity to see what’s behind closed doors.
“I think it’s fantastic,” says Burke, who has visited Fenway Park in Boston and Turner Field, home to her beloved Atlanta Braves. “Not only is the ballpark a place for having fun, it is also a place for learning.”
Burke is standing beneath the Welcome Rotunda at Chase Field. She and her husband, Keith, are taking a public tour (a must-do item on their visit to Arizona). They will walk more than a mile through the stadium, visiting the batting tunnel, the D-Backs dugout and the visitors locker room. Their guide on this journey is Tanya Mors, a petite pony-tailed Arizona native and ardent D-Backs fan.
“If you live here and take the tour, you feel ownership,” says Mors, who has guided hundreds of fans through the stadium over the past four years.
Mors reveals tidbits about the stadium’s architecture, traditions and the players themselves. For example, every land-line phone call made at the stadium is taped (known in baseball as the Pete Rose Rule). Players go through Rice Krispies treats and peanut butter and cheese crackers faster than any other snacks. On game day, housekeeping staff will do the equivalent of a month’s laundry for a family of four.
To find out more tidbits, you’ll have to take the tour.
Fans “like talking about the players,” says Mors. “People often want to know about money, but (tour guides) don’t know anything about that.”
Tour guides also aren’t allowed to approach the players during tours (although when Luis Gonzalez played for the team, he often signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans). Tour takers may spot other players walking the halls.
In fact, while the Burkes toured the stadium, pitcher Randy Johnson suddenly appeared and headed for an elevator. “Speak of the devil,” says Mors, who had just been talking about a hanging bar in the dugout the 6-foot-10-inch pitcher uses to stretch his back during games.
The roof is open during most public tours, so the air conditioning isn’t running. It’s a good idea to bring water and comfortable walking shoes. If you’ve got tickets to a home game on Friday or Saturday, special tours are available that include a chance to watch the last 15 minutes of batting practice.
Public tours of Chase Field
When: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays before evening games
Where: Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix
Cost: $6 adults, $4 children ages 7-12 and seniors, $2 children ages 4-6
Information: (602) 462-6799 or http://arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com/ari/ballpark/index.jsp
By the numbers
$345M Cost to build Chase Field
49,033 Number of seats
1,500 Size in square feet of the visitors locker room
7,000 Size in square feet of the Diamondbacks locker room
650 Televisions and monitors throughout the ballpark
8 Number of panels in the retractable roof
4.5 Minutes it takes for the roof to close
$2.45 Cost of electricity to open and close the roof
82 Record-high temperature in degrees in the stands May 10, 2001
SOURCE: Tanya Mors, tour guide at Chase Field