editor's note- bumped from the FanPosts for the great pictures of SRF@TS
I was lucky enough to be invited to a private tour of the new Rockies Spring Training Facility, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Yes, like the one the Monforts went on the day before. I am a Phoenix resident (don't worry, huge Rockies fan) and my friend is a main supplier for the project which enabled me to go on this tour. As you know by now, the Rockies will share the facility with their division rival, more on that later.
|The view as you enter the ballpark.|
I must say the place is amazing. Built in a partnership with the Salt River Indian Community, the D-Backs, and the Rockies, there are 13 fields – 6 practice fields for each team, and the main stadium field. They threw the project up in about 18 months (it actually completes in 7 days) and naturally I thought it would have been so hastily put together that the quality would suffer but the place is very well thought out and put together.
Speaking of the project, many of the locals have marveled at how quickly it has risen from the desert floor – that has come due to the amount of people working on it: there were 1,200 workers at peak working 2 full shifts and a "light" third shift 24/7. Even with a week left there are still 500 workers putting the finishing touches in place.
The stadium has fantastically wide concourses which will feature a lot of great local restaurants and of course classic ball game fare. The seats have great sight lines and one thing I noticed is the second level of seats in the lower deck is actually raised a few feet from the box seats near the field which will give fans in these seats an extremely good view of the field even when the fans in front are standing up.
|A view from the 3rd base side. Notice the second level of seats are raised.|
The second deck includes 2 "party" decks (one on either sideline) which can be rented out or you can purchase these standing room only tickets individually for $19. I am not sure how much baseball will be watched from these party decks which is sad because the sight lines are great. There is also a 3rd party deck on top of the press box which wasn't planned originally. The developers wanted high awnings so that they could shade the fans in order to keep more people there throughout the afternoon games but the height of the awnings created a usable space on top of the press box and viola: party deck. In March the awnings will block the sun for almost all of the seats but they are so high so as not to feel claustrophobic and the stadium still feels very open. In fact, the beautiful McDowell Mountains are the backdrop behind center field highlighting the views. There will be many pleasant days watching the men in purple pinstripes in the best part of the country to be in during March.
Also from the second deck on the Rockies side (the South side of the facility) the Rockies did a little something extra for the fans. There is a clover leaf of practice fields just south of the stadium (where four fields have their home plates together so they form a giant circle). But the Rockies did something different: three of the fields have their home plates together, while the fourth, the one closest to the stadium, has home plate where center field would have been, so it is completely reversed. Might seem weird until you realize that home plate is about 50 feet behind the second deck of the stadium so if the main game is boring, you can watch the PuRPs on the B field. I thought it was great and a nice example of the amount of thought the Rox put into the fan experience. The D-Backs did not do this with their practice fields.
|A Rockies practice field easily visible from the 2nd deck of the stadium.|
Another practice field was built to the exact dimensions of Coors (including the high right field wall) so the team could get a good feel for home.
The scoreboard/jumbotron is the largest in Spring Training (in both Arizona and Florida). It is also in full HD so the tribe has talked about holding drive in type events in the off season where kids can come and sit on the grass and watch movies.
|A view from the 3rd party deck atop the Press Box.|
Speaking of grass, the stadium has the largest outfield grass berm in Spring Training so relaxing days with a blanket on the grass and the crack of bats will be the norm for many.
All the fun really happens when you step inside. The Rockies team building, located in right field, is spectacular. Most organizations have the viewpoint of keeping the minor leaguers separate from the major leaguers so that it means something to make it to the bigs. The D-Backs followed this thinking in their building by having separate weight rooms and dining rooms for the major leaguers. This actually made them somewhat small since they needed the space for each.
The Rockies have a different philosophy. If you are in the organization, everyone is family no matter what city you play your home games in. So the Rockies have one large weight room and one large dining room. Tyler Matzek could be eating his cheerios right next to Ubaldo. Kyle Parker could be lifting weights alongside Tulo. What a great way of thinking and I’m sure it is something the players can appreciate.
|The weight room, shared by all players, has a picture of the World Series at Coors on the wall.|
As you may have guessed, they have done a couple of things for Keli McGregor. They named the weight room after him which is great since he would have spent some quality time there. They are also doing a special memorial outside on the grounds near the main entryway. There is a bridge and a path and an Indian statue of birds just taking flight with plaques about him.
Also inside the Rockies team building, the accents are great. There is a huge two story wall in the entry lobby that is adorned with a giant purple glowing mountain. In fact, the entire place has purple accents from the occasional thread in the carpet to the wood lining the walls.
Yes, the wood.
|Entry to the Rockies locker room with the famed purple wood framing the logo.|
It is called "Purple Wood" and it is from trees that were treated with a chemical to protect them from beetles. In the process of the treatment they turn grey with a slight tinge of purple. It makes for a great look and one I’m sure many Rowbots wouldn’t mind putting in their homes.
Another cool thing the Rockies did was embrace the fact that they will spend their spring on a reservation. Thus, many of the plaques in the building showing room names have the native translation on them.
Other cool parts of the team building: A huge locker room with an enormous CR logo in the ceiling and flat screens all over the place; a large training room with 4 hot tubs, 2 cold tubs, and one treadmill pool for rehabbing; a mural of one of a World Series Game at Coors Field that watches over the weight room so the guys know what they are working towards; an executive level with offices and meeting rooms, and a 100 purple seat theater for instruction or movies (would they call them "purple rows" then?).
|The Rockies major league locker room with the logo on the ceiling.|
Overall, my completely biased opinion rates the Rockies clubhouse much better than the D-Backs. It is clear that they put so much thought into their own needs and ideals as well as the fans.
I cannot wait for the games to start and for the Rockies to finally have a major league facility at which to train. Anyone else ready for baseball???
|Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.|