Ted Simons: Baseball's regular season is fast approaching. Opening day is set for April 1 st at chase field in downtown Phoenix and joining us now to talk about the upcoming season is D-backs president Derrick Paul. It's good to see you.
Derrick Paul: It's baseball season.
Ted Simons: It is. What does a team president look for and do during spring training?
Derrick Paul: People always ask me what's the off-season like? It's our season without games. We're more busy in the off-season than during the regular season. Our hours are longer during the season but spring training, there's so much excitement in the air. We're watching the roster but we're also getting our business plan still in place and preparing for the upcoming season promotionally.
Ted Simons: I'm hearing attendance is down.
Derrick Paul: It was a bit down at first for everybody across-the-board because we started early. It's colder and people aren't used to baseball in February. We're hitting it out of the park. Sellout crowds.
Ted Simons: What do you think of that world baseball thing? It kind of messes things up.
Derrick Paul: A little bit of a distraction for us because we had all of our players, new players in, and they got pulled off to other teams. Prada was gelling with the team and he goes off to Venezuela. I think it's good. If there's no baseball in the Olympics, world baseball classic, to have that global presence, that global competition, it's good for the game of baseball.
Ted Simons: Are you seeing as far as season tickets, spring training down initially, what are you seeing?
Derrick Paul: About the same as last year. I would like to see an uptick. We're at 12,000 season ticket-holders. We should be to 15,000- 20,000. I think as we win, we will get there again. It's also a sign that the economy needs to turn, getting a little better and people and consumers are gaining a little more confidence in spending so hopefully, that will translate. We're as portable as it gets for the most affordable ticket for six or seven straight 6 or 7 straight years.
Ted Simons: As far as the demographics, what do you see?
Derrick Paul: All across the bar. We've got aging demographics, we have young executives, we have college students that are buying special packs now, season ticket-holders represent really every age group, every demographic.
Ted Simons: And those special package tickets seems to be the way of the future.
Derrick Paul: They sell well and we have a four pack, for example, right now, any four games, 64$. You can hand select. Do you want this promo, the bobblehead, opening day, we have a six pack, the best seats behind the dugout for 100$. You can pick and choose what you want and it's been a nice way to customize for fans.
Ted Simons: And for the demographics, the target audience for that is a little bit different than folks who can afford to spend nights of their year?
Derrick Paul: Probably looking for someone that's not able to commit that much. We've got such great loyalty of ticket-holders and a lot of them also share. There's some that say I can't go to 81 games but if they can find partners, five ,six ,seven partners, they get together, have a draft, which games you're going to get. We're very happy with the season ticket-holders we have. They are so supportive of this club.
Ted Simons: For fans at chase field, any physical changes?
Derrick Paul: The old sliders building, the old restaurant out on the main plaza, that's changing now and it's going to be run and operated by ourselves and Budweiser and our restaurant partner and it's going to be the game seven grill and we've taken out the big pizza maker and replaced it with a huge smoker and you're going to have the smells of St. Louis barbecue. We're trying to bring more life to the plaza this year and that will be one way to do it. We've renovated between one and $2 million this off-season. Fans are going to be excited about the new look of that restaurant.
Ted Simons: What about inside the ballpark? Is there going to be change?
Derrick Paul: All the same. It's worked. We survey our fans at the end of each season, we'll ask the casual fan, what do you like? Great feedback on our in-game entertainment. Fan experience is what we're all about. Our game operations I think does as good a job as any team in the sport. The entertainment has been very classy, wholesome, that's not going to change.
Ted Simons: Something that did change was your broadcast team and for a variety of reasons the last crew isn't there. I think most Diamondbacks fans understand. How important was it to keep him around and how difficult this decision was?
Derrick Paul: We did hear some criticism, much more praise but we knew it was the right thing to do. He's done so much for the organization, he's an important part of the family. One of those world series heroes and always been great, such a good personality and he's had a successful career on the field. I thought his future is on the field as a coach or manager. Now, he's got the opportunity. He's in uniform, he's enjoying it.
Ted Simons: And you've got bob, again, the decision to hire a play by play guy who had never done play by play.
Derrick Paul: He's done maybe a handful of games. We saw the sampling of seven to 7-10 games that he did, big games, by the way. He had that New York Yankees Tampa rays game at the end of that the ’11 season that was the deciding factor in who was going to go to the playoffs, did a great job, college world series game, he's a great personality, he's got a cachet among baseball fans and if we're going to go that direction, we have to match with somebody who's very polished and experienced, that's why bob is going to balance that out. Steve is going to be good. Bob is the best analyst in baseball.
Ted Simons: He forecasts what happens. Justin Upton. that team’s seem like -- what was that all about?
Derrick Paul: I think it shows that a player of his ability certainly gets a lot of interest from other teams and when teams would call our general manager and ask if they could have discussions on Justin Upton. We were actually ready to start the season with him. We did have a deal in place for Seattle. I'm glad we made the deal with Atlanta because you've got pieces now, and in the future. But we were ready. We were just going to stick with our roster and have Justin come back and we would have been fine but Justin's in a really good place now. He's going to play with his brother. We're sure Justin is going to have a good career and he's going to be a little bit more comfortable with his brother and for us we were able to turn the page and bring in a player who's been an MVP candidate, who's a constant.300 hitter, a great clubhouse presence, he is a pro and the influence he's had so far on the other players is great.
Ted Simons: Last question and we only about seconds, how are you doing health-wise?
Derrick Paul: I had my second straight non-detectable cancer blood test so thank you.
Ted Simons: You've been very vocal about it. A lot of people appreciate it.
Derrick Paul: If everybody could get tested early, I'm doing great and I appreciate you asking.
Ted Simons: It's good to see you. And that is it for now. I'm ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.