It seems to have become somewhat official that the Casper Ghosts have dissolved into the vapor, and will be rematerializing as the Grand Junction Rockies in 2012. I understand it's disappointing for Wyomingians who have enjoyed the team, but I have to say it's pretty darned exciting out here on the western end of Colorado.
Obviously, we don't really know much about who will be on the team next year (although I would love to hear speculation in the comments, if only to tell me somebody actually read this...). But for anybody interested in what awaits the Rockies in their Colorado homecoming, a little information about their new home.
This is Sam Suplizio field...
Seating capacity is somewhere between 11-12k, depending on how well you want to get to know your neighbor. at present there are no actual seats - the stands are bleacher style seating. But that will change for part of the stadium with an $8.3 million renovation that is currently underway. The first base stands you can see in the first picture, topped by a press box, are no more. By next May they will be replaced by this:
Beneath those new seats will be a new concession area - serving, for the first time, a type of fermented grain beverage known as "bier" that I believe is quite popular at many ballparks. I am told that at times it can be quite helpful in watching the efforts of 18 and 19 year old ballplayers.
But, enough about the fans. The important thing for baseball nerds is what kind of environment will the players have? What do we need to know to evaluate the players? A few particulars after the jump:
RF line: 330
Right -center: 380
Dead center: 400
LF line: 302
No, that last one is not a typo. It's 302 feet down the LF line. No getting a football field in there, but a good Clint Barmes popup would stand a chance of getting out. None of the pictures above give a really good image of how the LF fence comes in, but in reality it isn't as extreme as the numbers would indicate. In the third picture you can see the secret weapon employed against the short porch: a double wall (about 14') semi-affectionately knows as "The mini-monster". LFers will get an education in playing caroms, and line drive hitters will find their efforts suffer in comparison to guys who put the ball in the air. And yes, I expect a bumper crop of RH power hitters.
Hopefully at some point they'll be able to move that wall out to around 330, but there is a drainage pond about 30 feet back that would have to be relocated to make that happen (picture #2 is a bit old, but picture a small collection pond to the LF end of the OF bleachers, between the fence and the last row of cars). Still, I wouldn't be shocked if the Monforts have that on a wish list somewhere.
Aside from that, the park plays pretty true. At around 4500 feet, the ball carries, but not insanely so (although the Juco World Series abandoning metal bats for composite was a nice change for anybody who likes a bit of pitching). CF features a nice batters eye that gives hitters a good backdrop. There's a fairly average amount of foul territory. I suspect the design of the new 1B stands, with the open concourse between the stands and the huge press box/hospitality suite could lead to some very interesting evening shadow situations, but we'll see.
Most importantly to the Monforts, expect to see a lot more fan support, at least for the first few years. This is a town that annually turns out 7k+per game for the Junior College World Series, which includes 4-5 weekday day games. Over a 38 game season the Rockies won't match that, but half that number is easily achievable.
Now, the biggest remaining question is: how soon can June get here???? It better hurry up. This guy already got my seat....