Fan Fest venue change a success

More than 20,000 show up at Salt River Fields

Fan Fest venue change a success

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the end, it worked out better than they could have hoped.

The 13th annual D-backs Fan Fest was a success Monday as an estimated crowd of about 20,000 showed up at Salt River Fields.

The weather was perfect for the gathering, which had to be moved from Saturday to Monday due to the weekend's heavy rain.

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It was the first time that the event had been held at Salt River Fields. In prior years, Chase Field played host, but this year it was not available, so the team decided to use its state-of-the-art Spring Training facility.

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"Fan Fest was a complete success considering the need to reschedule due to the weather," D-backs team president and CEO Derrick Hall said. "When we were forced to find an alternate location months ago, due to a schedule conflict at Chase Field, our staff became excited about the possibilities that Salt River Fields provides. It allowed us to expand the footprint of interactive locations, and when dry will include other fields and cages. The feedback from fans I spoke with was very positive, and we will look to build on a strong calendar event that continues to grow in attendance and excitement."

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Fans began lining up in the wee hours of the morning, long before the gates opened. Their excitement did not go unnoticed in the clubhouse.

"It's awesome," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "The fans here are great. They are always showing up early, and Fan Fest has grown every year. It seems like there's more and more fans letting you know they're excited to get out here. It's fun to get to interact with them as kind of a kickoff to Spring Training."

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The weekend rain forced D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and his staff to shuffle the team's practice schedule, so he understood the logistics that were undertaken to switch the Fan Fest date.

"I want to personally thank all the employees -- the Salt River employees, the Diamondbacks staff -- for being flexible," Lovullo said. "Any time we can connect with the fans, I think it's a good thing."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.