PHOENIX – For thousands of fans arriving in Phoenix this weekend for the All-Star Game there’s no sugarcoating reality.
It’s July. It’s the desert Southwest. It will be hot, hot, hot.
Organizers of the annual showcase of Major League Baseball’s top talent know all about it, and the five-day celebration that began Friday has been tweaked accordingly.
The All-Star FanFest is being held inside the air-conditioned Phoenix Convention Center, which is across the street from the domed and cooled Chase Field ballpark. The hospitality area, where guests of MLB and the Arizona Diamondbacks will party after Monday’s Home Run Derby and before Tuesday’s game, is in another convention center building.
And for those brief walks between venues, misting stations and water handouts are plentiful.
Spring training on the lawn in the desert this isn’t. A summer afternoon at an open-air ballpark in Arizona is just out of the question.
But forecasters are not predicting a repeat of the record-breaking 118-degree temperature posted in Phoenix on July 2. Instead, the National Weather Service expects a more normal (for Phoenix) 106 degrees when the first pitch is thrown Tuesday.
“Thank goodness! Not to say anything, but 105, even though I know that sometimes you feel it is humid, your 105 humid in the desert is very different than 90 in the Northeast and humid,” said Marla Miller, MLB’s senior vice president for special events. “It’s actually more comfortable.”
The only major outdoor event is the parade featuring the All-Stars, who will ride in pickup trucks and convertibles at noon Tuesday along a route cut to three-tenths of a mile. No sweat here.
Those lining the route might perspire a little, but again, there will be cooling stations and free water aplenty.
Public health officials say the biggest danger for summer visitors isn’t necessarily hanging around downtown, where air-conditioned spaces abound. It’s folks who think they can exercise as usual outside during the hottest month of the year.
Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall acknowledged that the heat is his biggest challenge and concern. But he said the team and the city are prepared. And he predicted that the game, Monday’s Home Run Derby and Sunday’s All-Star futures game will come off better for fans than in other cities.
“I’ve been to most of the All-Star games, and I can remember it being very hot in Philadelphia, in Atlanta, in Houston, really all the venues,” Hall said. “Here it’s going to be much different because it’s all indoors and all within close proximity.
“A different experience with the roof closed, but that’s part of our ballpark, that’s part of who we are.”