If You Spend It, Will They Come?

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Colangelo says the team determined that the best way to go after free agents was to make a big splash in one year and lose the draft picks all at once, too. He points out that the Diamondbacks have several of the hottest young prospects moving through the minor leagues, whom the team is jealously guarding.

"We don't believe the player-development area has been effected negatively at all," Colangelo says.

Despite the massive investment in free agents, the demand for season tickets has been slow to rebound. Season-ticket sales are still substantially below last year's--26,000 seats have been sold as of last week compared to 36,000 for the 1998 season. The Diamondbacks are offering 20-game packages in the hope of attracting fans with limited time and budgets.

The addition of Randy Johnson to the team is expected to be a marketing plus. But Johnson carries a notorious reputation from his days with the Seattle Mariners, and he clearly lacks the charisma of a Charles Barkley, whom Colangelo used to help whip the Valley into a frenzy over the Phoenix Suns earlier this decade.

One indication of the difficulty the Diamondbacks face in marketing is the fact that the first home game in the 49,075-seat stadium, slated for April 12, is not sold out.

But if all goes well during the season and the high-dollar pitching staff assembled by Colangelo performs as expected, it's conceivable that the Diamondbacks could be in the hunt for a playoff slot during the dog days of August and September.

If the team is in contention, Colangelo expects to see a packed ballpark down the stretch--the time that profits are made, fortunes built and pennants won.

Contact John Dougherty at his online address: [email protected]

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty