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Chase Field Gets Wired

The Phoenix Business Journal had a story earlier in the week, describing upgrades which have been taking place at Chase, to give the place a spruce-up in advance of the All-Star Game, which as we all know, is coming to Phoenix in July. Some of these won't necessarily be particularly visible e.g. "The field’s retractable roof has been recoated, painted and adorned with new Chase Field logos." That is something to keep an eye out for, the next time I take the SnakePitCopter to my Fortress of Solitude. However, some of the other changes will be more visible - though I'm not sure they are necessarily for the better...

Okay, most of them probably fall into the category of needed, cool, or "why the heck didn't they have that in the first place?" - the last covering the shade structure in the entry plaza. Construction for that started a while back; if you were there for FanFest, you'll have seen the first steps. I'll have to swing by at some point with my camera at this week and see what the new version is like. The panels on the north side are now branded with the team's logos and uniforms, rather than generic silhouettes - I presume not with specific players, because they'd be a bit hard to replace in the event of a trade. Make one hell of an item at the next Diamondbacks' Yard Sale though.

The one that I'm a bit more dubious about is one you won't actually be able to see directly. But you may notice the resulting downtick in the attention being paid to the contest at hand.

AT&T and the team have installed more technology at the stadium to improve Wi-Fi hookups. They are also partnering on a free application Wi-Fi users can download to watch game replays and highlights and track game and player stats on their phones. D-backs President Derrick Hall said that will include replays of controversial calls that might not be shown on the stadium’s giant video scoreboard In June, the team hopes to add a remote ordering system to that application, allowing fans to order concessions from their seats and then pick them up via an express line.

Given I work for a webhosting company and run the 'Pit, you might be surprised by how anti-tech I am in many areas: just a couple of days back, I did my best grumpy old man impression, yelling over Twitter at a certain SnakePitter for Tweeting during a movie. I still don't think these new-fangled DVDs will ever catch on, and have several tubs of laserdiscs in the basement to back up my argument. I fears there will eventually be a Diamondback chip implant, required to get into Chase, and which will control our every thou... [Beep! Whirr!] I'm sorry, I mis-spoke: what I meant to say was, "I, for one, welcome our new overlords."

Less hysterically, I do wonder if you will also be able to watch replays of fans getting smacked in the face with a foul ball, because there were busy "tracking game and player stats" on their phones, rather than watching the freakin' game! I'm also not sure how the umpires' union will react to the news that anyone in the crowd will be able to see whether they got the call right or wrong. In some ways, it is no different from the current situation: a close call is replayed by the TV broadcast, out on the concourse, and I've often heard reaction rippling its way back down onto the field. But this would potentially take it to a whole new level.

Maybe it is our increasingly ADHD-culture, where it is no longer apparently sufficient, simply to attend a ball-game. On the other hand, could it help increase your enjoyment of the game, having that additional information on tap? At least, it would be nowhere near as distracting as being at the movies, and seeing the theater turn into a glow-worm infested cave, with all the Tweeting, texting and Facebook status updating taking place, so there is that. Like all technology, it is a double-edged sword: it's not the advance per se that is "evil". And if it proves sufficient distraction to stop people from doing the wave, it's a trade-off with which I will be more than happy.