PHOENIX -- When he pitched for the D-backs at Chase Field, 6-foot-10 left-hander Randy Johnson was hard to miss.On March 9, when Billy Joel takes the stage here, Johnson will be lurking in the shadows just behind the singer pursuing his post Hall of Fame career passion of photography.It will
PHOENIX -- When he pitched for the D-backs at Chase Field, 6-foot-10 left-hander Randy Johnson was hard to miss.
On March 9, when Billy Joel takes the stage here, Johnson will be lurking in the shadows just behind the singer pursuing his post Hall of Fame career passion of photography.
It will be the first time Joel has played at Chase Field, but not the first time Johnson will be on stage for one of his performances.
"I thought that was really awesome, so hopefully I'll have that same opportunity in my ballpark," Johnson said. "The place I performed in."
Tickets for the concert, which is a joint effort with Live Nation, go on sale to the public on Friday, Dec. 7 at 10:00 a.m. MST.
"We are thrilled to have music legend Billy Joel perform at Chase Field," D-backs team president/CEO Derrick Hall said.
Under an agreement reached earlier this year with Maricopa County, the D-backs now have control over booking outside events, and do so through Arizona Diamondbacks Events & Entertainment.
In addition to the Joel concert, Chase Field will host college football's Cheez It Bowl in late December and the WWE Royal Rumble in late January.
"I think there's easily over 25 of the 30 clubs that have that ability," Hall said. "So it's an area that we were deficient in, and this will help. It's a new revenue stream for us that will be invested into capital needs for the ballpark."
The D-backs' move next year from natural grass, which has been a challenge to grow in the scorching Arizona summers, to a new state-of-the-art synthetic grass surface will also aid the club in booking more events.
"The obvious reasons that motivated us to go to synthetic grass were fan experience with the temperature of the building, the surface playing safer, and also the efficiency, because we'll save over two million gallons of water," Hall said. "But the added benefit now that we're able to book the building, and when concerts go through during the summer time now, we can do that without negatively impacting the playing surface."
If that means more big-name concerts coming to town, well then Johnson, whose pictures from his previous Joel concert were on display on Wednesday, is all for it.
"As you can see, I'm up on stage in the shadows capturing moments, and that's what photography is all about," Johnson said. "Being given the opportunity to shoot someone like Billy Joel or Metallica or Elton John, those are mega bands. And I was given the opportunity to be on stage, and not too many people are given that opportunity, so I didn't want to mess it up, and obviously want to get what I'm there to do which is to capture a memorable moment. I hope to try and do that here on March 9 as well."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.