Friday, June 3, 2011

Diamondbacks, METRO unveil All-Star trains

By Anthony Fenech / | 06/03/11

PHOENIX -- Luis Gonzalez wanted to take the train for a ride.

"I don't think they'd let me," he said. "But it has a lot of power on it."

On Friday, Gonzalez was in the driver's seat of the first All-Star Game-themed METRO train at the METRO Operations and Maintenance Center on a day that marks a 40-day countdown to the Midsummer Classic in Phoenix.

The train is the first of six wrapped with images of MLB All-Stars that will serve as one of the most utilized vehicles of transportation during the All-Star festivities in July.

"METRO light rail is a big part of the All-Star Game," D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said.

"It's going to be an important way to transport people very easily to and from the game and its surrounding events, and we've worked well with them to make sure we could get some of these wrapped up."

A special guest crew of D-backs outfielder Justin Upton, MLB vice president of western operations and special projects Laurel Prieb, METRO director of community relations John Farry and City of Phoenix councilman Michael Johnson accompanied Gonzalez in driving the train out of the garage for the unveiling.

Upton -- the 23-year-old right fielder, MLB All-Star FanFest spokesperson and All-Star Game hopeful -- had his image plastered on each side of the train.

"It's great," he said of the partnership. "In general, having the All-Star Game here is a big event for us. It's huge for our city, and I think we deserve it because it's a great place for people to come and it's a great place to enjoy a weekend of baseball."

Upton and Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star who is serving as MLB's All-Star summer ambassador, are serving as the team's most visible figures.

"This is exciting," Gonzalez said. "The league awarding the game to Phoenix is a great move and it's going to be a great time."

Hall said the partnership between MLB, the D-backs and METRO began about a year ago and was finalized six weeks prior to Friday's ceremony, with design of the exterior and panels on the interior.

"We've been really excited to see how the final product was," he said. "So to come out here and see it in its entirety, we're thrilled."

Johnson spoke in front of a small crowd of people and was also thrilled with the prospects of the area hosting another prolific sporting event.

"We have the All-Star Game, we have an all-star team and we have an all-star city," he said. "We're glad to have the opportunity to showcase what being an All-Star is all about."

METRO has a stop outside of Chase Field and nine spots that fans can park and ride to the ballpark.

"We're definitely committed to them," Hall said. "And they know how important we are to them and vice versa."

The MLB All-Star Game will be held on July 12 at Chase Field.

"Having the decorative stuff around the city is really making it feel closer than it is," Upton said.

No comments: