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Church State Issues

Chrisitans use Bank One Ballpark for free at tax payer expense

Jun 5, 2010

Arizona Republic

I suspect that Jerry Colangelo, the Maricopa County Supervisors, and the other folks that run the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team will use this as an excuse to give the Bank One Ballpark or Chase Field as it is now called to a christian group RENT FREE to they can have a big christian event paid by the taxpayers violating both the Arizona and Federal constitution.

Maricopa County violated Arizona and U.S. Constitution by letting religious groups use Bank One Ballpark for free


Organizers hope D-Backs embrace Faith Night

Jun. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

The Arizona Diamondbacks are not quite sure which night will be Faith Night this season. And the way it's planned, most fans won't know when Faith Night is either.

Sometime, though, probably in August or September, the team will join two other Major League Baseball teams in hosting a promotion that is supposed to fill the soul as well as the upper-deck seats.

In some cities, particularly in minor-league ballparks in the South, the evening is an overt show of religious fervor, complete with biblical bobbleheads, testimony from players and even jerseys emblazoned with quotes from Scripture.

The organizers, Third Coast Sports, say their upcoming night at Chase Field is a breakthrough, one of the first times a Faith Night will be held at a major sporting event.

But the Diamondbacks are not going to make a big deal about it. The event, planned as a Christian outreach project, is not an official Diamondbacks promotion. The team is treating the attendees as they would any other group.

"We're not interested in having a promotional Faith Night," said Derrick Hall, a senior vice president of communications for the team. "But we're willing to give their group the advantage of a group discount."

It's not exactly what the organizers had in mind, but they hope that with some success, the team will adopt the night as its own.

"We think it's going to grow," said Matt Toy, a spokesman for Third Coast.

The group picked Phoenix because of market research, Toy said. "Arizona has a ton of churches and a very loyal church base that would definitely respond to this. We think it's a natural fit."

It will be a major event in Atlanta. The Braves are holding three Faith Nights, Toy said. He expects the night with the Florida Marlins to be a major promotion as well.

But the group's initial bid to have an official promotional day at Chase Field was rebuffed.

Toy said he's aware that overt, out-of-context displays of Christianity can give some people the heebie-jeebies, but he said the Faith Nights have not met any negative comments anywhere else. He said the night could be publicized in the ballpark in a way that "would not alienate anyone."

Hall didn't address whether the Diamondbacks thought some fans might feel uncomfortable at a Christian-themed night. But he said the team limits promotional nights to giveaways or sponsor-driven nights. "We try and hold promotions that are pleasing to all fans," he said.

So Phoenix Faith Night organizers will settle for the group discount and hope to fill the upper deck with fans from area churches. Afterward, those fans will get a post-game concert from a contemporary Christian band and a visit from Tony Clark or Russ Ortiz, both committed Christians, Toy said.

The event is tentatively scheduled for the Aug. 27 afternoon game against the Dodgers, but it might be moved to a weekend game in September if ESPN decides to pick up the Dodgers game for Sunday Night Baseball.

Either way, the game will lack an opportunity to get some converts, one of the goals of Faith Nights.

The promotion is "an experience intentionally designed to make an eternal difference," according to the Third Coast Web site.

"We look at it as a church outreach opportunity," Toy said. "Definitely for the non-Christian, we'd love for them to come out."

But at Chase Field, the fans who don't get their tickets through their churches probably won't notice anything different.

Except maybe the cucumber.

At other Faith Nights, the VeggieTales, characters from value-based cartoons, get to throw out the first pitch.

But it's still unclear whether Bob the Tomato or Larry the Cucumber will take the mound in Phoenix.

If the cucumber does, the catcher better watch out. Word is the cucumber's curveball gets delivered from above.

Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or richard.ruelas@....