Strike 3: There’s nothing like Opening Day at Coors Field. Certainly not Opening Night at Chase Field in Arizona.

The defending National League champion Diamondbacks put an historical beatdown on the Colorado Rockies when they opened the season last Thursday evening in Phoenix. Inside Chase Field, the fans roared their approval during the 14-run third inning. But outside, in a not-so-wonderful part of Phoenix, there was no buzz. It was just another nice evening.

Perhaps some of that has to do with the sheer number of Major League baseball games that had already been played in the surrounding area for more than a month. Perhaps having Spring Training in your own backyard dulls some of the excitement for the “return” of baseball? Whatever the reason, there was nothing special about what was happening before the first pitch.

Chase Field is a cool place. Good amenities, a nice pavilion, badly overpriced food and all that, but it’s not close to the same as what will be going on today for the 29th time in the history of the NL’s third oldest ballpark. While the D-Backs have bragging rights and the better baseball team, they also offer far less of a baseball “experience.” Outside of Chase Field before the game there was a stoic atmosphere, and inside, despite having a very good team, there were a number of empty seats.

While local fans clamor (rightfully so) for a better on-field product, let’s take time to appreciate the fact that Colorado has the far better venue, and that’s something baseball fans around here should never take for granted.

It took a lot of hard work and some very creative thinking to get Coors Field built back in 1991-92. While there are a lot of people who don’t think any taxpayer dollars should go to the construction of a sports stadium, let’s remember that without public funding, what’s now the LoDo region might be something far different than the thriving economic and entertainment district it’s become.

Thankfully, voters in the five-county metro area approved a tiny one-tenth of one-percent sales tax (that didn’t include food or medicine.) If you were living here back then and you’re being honest, you never even realized it was a thing.

Back when Colorado was bidding to get an MLB expansion team, the fragile ownership group that was in place at the time lacked the means to build a stadium on their own. And after some of that group fell apart, things looked grim for Denver’s baseball future. It was the public that stepped up and got the stadium built, and then proceeded to fill the place in record numbers.

That small sales tax increase was so successful that the revenue generated ended up paying for the construction of what is now Empower Field as well. Two stadiums for the price of one, with the tax increase being retired shortly after that. It was a win-win-win.

Today, unlike the D-Backs, the Rockies are firmly entrenched in Colorado. Renovations to Coors Field have occurred during the past three off seasons, and the place looks better than ever.

There are at least minor rumblings, and questions about the D-Backs future in Phoenix when their lease expires after the 2027 season. The folks in the desert are grappling with politicians over plans and desires to have the public help them do some major and badly needed renovations to their downtown ballpark. Meanwhile, baseball fans here in Colorado will continue to fill one of the league’s best venues, knowing that while the Rockies rebuild crawls along, at least they can still have their very special Opening Days, their great summer nights in their very special ballpark.

That’s got to suffice for now.