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Putting the 'A' in Arizona

November 22, 2005|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. — The halo will shine here too. As part of a $22-million renovation of the Angels' spring-training home, an illuminated team logo will be installed at Tempe Diablo Stadium, visible to fans approaching the main entrance and to motorists passing on Interstate 10.

By playing in a renovated facility he can call his own and decorate accordingly, rather than sharing a new complex with another team, Angel owner Arte Moreno is bucking the trend in the Cactus League.

"I'm still working on trying to brand the Angel name," Moreno said. "If I went into a shared facility, I'd lose a little of what I'm trying to accomplish."

The newest big A will be the calling card of a renovation project that started last April and is scheduled for completion well before the Angels report to spring training in mid-February.

Moreno said he would pay $2 million to supplement $12 million committed by the state of Arizona and $8 million by the city of Tempe. Seating capacity is expected to approach 10,000, up slightly from 9,565 last spring, stadium manager Wil Gorman said.

The renovations include replacing every seat in the house, although bench seating will continue to be used beyond the dugouts. The lawn seating behind the left-field fence will be expanded, with trees planted for shade and an adjacent picnic facility added. Concession, souvenir and restroom facilities will be expanded, with parking added on grass fields that the city will use for youth sports leagues outside of spring training.

Fans might first notice the grand entrance, a staircase decorated with plants and palm trees leading to a red brick facade that frames dark green iron gates. In previous years, fans entered from ramps down the baselines, with an imposing wall blocking any view inside the stadium.

"It looked like the Alamo or Fort Apache," Moreno said. "You didn't know how to get in. There was nothing that said welcome."

The project also includes a new clubhouse and four new practice fields to accommodate the Angels' minor leaguers, an expanded clubhouse and renovated practice fields for the major leaguers, roomier dugouts, additional batting and pitching cages and such details as extra power outlets in the coaches' office.

"Everything now is computers," Moreno said.

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