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Pet-Friendly Sports Venues? This Season Brings a Major League First

23 Mar, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

“Buy me some Milk Bones and Scooby-Snacks; I don’t care if I never get back…”

The old music could be gaining some new lyrics as ballparks start becoming increasingly dog-friendly.

According to an article in MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, the latest is Chase Field, home base of the Arizona Diamondbacks. PetSmart is partnering with the Diamondbacks to create a season-long dog-friendly ballpark.

The Phoenix-based retailer is sponsoring the PetSmart Patio, which will host the “Dog Days of Summer” program. Fans can bring their dogs to all 13 Sunday Diamondbacks home games in the 2016 season. The first game will be on April 10 vs. the Chicago Cubs.

While it’s not uncommon for baseball clubs to host dog-friendly events (and assistance dogs are always welcome in stadiums across the U.S.), this marks the first time a Major League Baseball park has opened its doors to all companion dogs, all season long.

Pet parents will be able to enjoy the game at Chase Field with exclusive seating, a grassy play area nearby, and the PetSmart adoption center, which will feature adoptable dogs ready to find their forever homes. Dog-friendly treats will also be available for the furry attendees.

As marketing moves go, it’s a fairly savvy one. A recent survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that more than 35 percent of all households included a dog. (The ASPCA has an even higher number: between 37 and 47 percent.) The interaction of sports and pets is also undeniable; most big-box pet stores include an area where owners can purchase collars, leashes, harnesses and clothing for their dogs in team colors and logos.

The trend of dog-friendly establishments is growing. An Internet search on restaurants that accept dogs results in thousands of hits, and encourages users to plug in their zipcodes or cities for better refinement. In addition, many hotels now accept dogs, as do areas as diverse as coffee shops and retail establishments. The concept of sports venues that roll out the welcome mat for dogs is the next step in the trend.

In keeping with the family dynamic of pet ownership, the Diamondbacks have noted the PetSmart Patio will be located along the main concourse behind the left-center field wall. The patio area will feature a family-friendly atmosphere with multi-tiered seating for canines of various sizes.

For each of the 13 “Dog Days of Summer” held at the D-backs’ Sunday home games, pets can enjoy concessions such as dog-friendly ice cream with toppings like kibble and other pet treats. As part of the ticket package, pet parents also will receive a PetSmart “Doggie Bag” including free items from PetSmart. 

Directly behind the PetSmart Patio will be the PetSmart Park -- an outdoor and indoor dog park that is air-conditioned, so that even in the heat of summer dogs can run around and play. The outdoor park will feature a baseball theme complete with a baseball diamond and a grassy outfield for dogs to explore, play ball with other dogs or just sniff around until they find that perfect spot to – well, you can guess.

 “We are seeing more and more establishments open up their facilities to pets – whether it’s coffee shops, retail stores, hotels or restaurants," says Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer, PetSmart, Inc.. "We think dog-loving baseball fans are going to really enjoy this first-ever ballpark experience with a dedicated dog-friendly space so they can take in a Sunday ball game with their best friends or even expand their families through dog adoption."

There are currently no plans to expand the initiative to other ballparks, according to PetSmart. But if you think a pet-friendly concourse is odd, there's always the MiLB Frisco Rough Riders' plan to construct a "lazy river" ride to keep fans happy during hot games in the summer.

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