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Arizona Fans Say New Ballpark Ready

March 30, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ The Arizona Diamondbacks lost 3-0 in the first tryout for Bank One Ballpark, but John Youngberg and 49,198 fellow fans didn’t seem to care.

That’s because the real star at Sunday’s exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox was the ballpark itself.

``It’s unbelievable. I just think this is the greatest thing to ever hit Phoenix,″ said Youngberg, who lives in Phoenix. ``I think that it’s impressive when you see the magnitude of the building, and then you sit inside and see that wonderful baseball field in front of you.″

Besides the goodies that come with a $354 million price tag _ including a swimming pool _ more than a few fans also appreciated the stadium’s retractable roof, which kept out the rain and cold breezes.

Claudia Slone of Fountain Hills was part of the throng.

``It’s been a long time coming for baseball fans,″ Stone said. ``It’s amazing that this building is so large on the outside, but it’s so cozy on the inside. You feel like it’s an intimate ballpark. You feel really close to the players.″

Despite the many plaudits, it clearly was a trial run for Bank One Pallpark, and some things needed to be remedied before the first regular season game Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Some concession stands were closed and others ran out of food. One bathroom was closed due to faulty sensors in the high-tech, handle-free toilets.

And the stadium clearly was a work in progress _ at least on the outside.

Bricks and other construction materials were stacked on one side of the stadium. Some walkways were incomplete. New grass was roped off outside.

There were even some notes of discontent at the beer stands.

Glenn Shirk, of Denver, standing in line to buy a $6 beer, said the same size brew is $4.50 at Coors Field.

``I’m moving to Denver,″ said Don Haley, of Glendale, who was standing behind Shirk in line, ``that’s all there is to it.″

Some fans didn’t have to worry about that, since money was hard to come by for those who didn’t bring it. There was a half-hour wait for the automatic teller machine on the lower concourse, and one another ATM was out of order.

But while some complained, others decided that no dress rehearsal is without its rough spots.

``I expected some problems because it’s the first day, and I’m sure there will probably still be some on Tuesday,″ said Courtney Abbott of Chandler.

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