ANAHEIM -- It did not take long after the final pitch of the 2010 All-Star Game for preparations to begin for the 2011 game, to be played at Chase Field in Phoenix."It starts Wednesday," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said.
In reality, though, the work has been going on since the D-backs were awarded the game last April. The organization brought a number of employees to Anaheim this week to shadow their counterparts with the Angels."It's been eye-opening; it's been educational," Hall said. "We brought out close to 50 employees so they could take notes and get a leg up on the work that starts Wednesday." In addition to employees, the Arizona contingent included representatives of the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Phoenix Police and Fire and Maricopa County officials as well as Homeland Security. "They were very comfortable with everything they saw and we feel like we're going to run a very smooth operation as well," Hall said. "It will be a tough act to follow. The Angels did a great job, and when you have Disneyland as a close backdrop and brand, that's a lot to live up to, but I think Phoenix and the state of Arizona is really going to impress everyone. We're going to put on a heck of a show." Big events are commonplace in the Valley of the Sun, which has hosted three NBA All-Star Games, two Super Bowls and a number of NCAA football national championship games. Speaking of sun, while it was a warm day by Anaheim standards for Tuesday's game, it figures to be quite a bit hotter in Phoenix next year. For instance, the temperature Thursday was expected to reach 116 degrees. "The heat is probably our biggest concern, and we're going to have to find ways to cool events off," Hall said. "I personally have been to All-Star Games in Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia, where it's been unbearable. Last year in St. Louis, it was very warm. You hear the joke, but it's a reality that it's a dry heat. It won't be overbearing, but we'll find ways to cool things. We're going to make it comfortable for our fans." Some of the things the team may try to do is add more shade to the main plaza area and entrances. They are also looking at possibly installing misting systems and some cooling machines outside the ballpark. In addition, the recently renovated convention center is located just across the street from Chase Field, which will have its retractable roof shut tight and the air conditioning pumping. The D-backs have sought to host a Midsummer Classic from their beginnings in 1998. Their lobbying finally paid off last year. "Typically, you'll find that newer ballparks will be awarded All-Star Games, so you can showcase that new ballpark," Hall said. "We've been sitting on it now for 13 seasons and still feel like it looks brand new and feels brand new, so there's no better time than now." The team has done much to update Chase Field in recent years, adding LED boards as well as a large high-definition video board. Even more will be done between now and next year. "We constantly refresh the ballpark and some of those moves were in anticipation of the All-Star Game coming up," Hall said. "I'm thrilled that our fans are going to have the opportunity to be a part of something that is as special as the Midsummer Classic. We can showcase Chase Field."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.