Memo to fans seated behind home plate at Chase Field:
The Diamondbacks will allow you to wear merchandise from opposing clubs. They just prefer you to root for the home team.
The D-backs drew local and national criticism this week after it appeared that they forced a Dodgers fan seated behind home plate to take off a Dodgers cap and put on a Diamondbacks jersey over his blue shirt.
The incident, which occurred Sunday, resulted from a lighthearted exchange between fans and not team orders, according to club sources. And though the D-backs prefer ticket holders in the suite behind home plate to avoid wearing opponents’ merchandise, they do not enforce a strict dress code, sources said.
The D-backs issued a statement Wednesday night explaining their position:
“At the time of purchase, fans who are looking to buy those seats are informed that we prefer that they wear D-backs or neutral attire. We offer them alternative locations or even provide them with team gear.
“However, should they purchase them and choose to wear opposing team gear, they are permitted to do so. That was also the case this past Sunday when a fan made his way into the box to say hello to a friend. In that instance, they joked around with their usher before another fan sitting in those seats gave him her jersey in jest.”
The attire of fans behind home plate at Chase Field first drew attention in 2013, when D-backs owner Ken Kendrick asked fans sitting in the Batter’s Box Suite to change out of their blue Dodgers shirts or move to another suite, according to the Arizona Republic.
The fans agreed, changing into Diamondbacks gear provided by the club. At the time, team spokesman Josh Rawitch told the Republic that because the seats were highly visible on television broadcasts, the team had a policy requiring fans to agree not to wear opponents’ merchandise before they purchased the suite, which includes 20 seats and now rents for $3,700 per game.
That policy no longer is in effect — the team simply lets ticket buyers know that it prefers the fans in the suite to be D-backs fans.
Sunday’s incident, meanwhile, couldn’t have been more innocuous, according to the source.
“Those were all invited guests of ours,” the source said. “The Dodgers fan snuck in out of fun because he knew the usher and some of our guests from being a Suns season ticket-holder. One of his friends and the usher were teasing him, and she took her jersey off and handed it to him.