A serious issue is the lack of corporate philanthropy in Phoenix. The sixth largest city in the US suffers from a dearth of big business headquarters, compared to cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The upcoming exodus of US Airways aggravates the situation. The Arizona Diamondbacks have done something unique the past three years to stroke the few remaining big corporate sponsors in town. On Thursday, January 16, 2013, the DBacks staged the third Most Valuable Partner (MVP) Awards at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Arizona.
Diamondbacks’ CEO & President—Derrick Hall—emceed the event. Hall has been very innovative during his seven years as head of the organization. He has made major improvements in the fan experience at Chase Field, made personnel changes that resulted in a turnaround from 97 losses in 2010 to 94 wins and a National League West Division Championship in 2011, and boosted the Diamondbacks’ charitable efforts ($19 million during his tenure). Hall and the DBacks were most recently heralded for the $200,000 donation to the Yarnell Firefighters-related charities. Hall is often rumored to become the next Major League Baseball Commissioner.
At the MVP Awards, Hall said that the DBacks were the only team in the MLB to host such a ceremony. It was a big production with musical numbers (e.g., “Don’t Stop Renewing”), contests (e.g., DBacks Feud pitting players against corporate executives), and videos (including a parody of Undercover Boss), all accomplished by in-house staff. There was an unusual division with VIPs having dinner downstairs, while season ticket holders were treated to hors oeuvres in the balcony of the Ovations Live! Showroom. But everyone enjoyed the evening. It was a rare and fun opportunity to see the players in suits and ties, participating in comedy skits or presenting awards.
A wide variety of awards were presented for Rookie of the Year (Safelite Autoglass®) to Golden Glove (host Gila River Casinos). Other recognized corporations included APS, Western Refining, Subway, Taco Bell, Budweiser/Pepsi and Sanderson Ford.
The city hosting this event—Chandler—had just, two days earlier, received the news that the Intel chip factory, which had even been visited by President Obama, and was to bring needed permanent jobs to Phoenix, is not happening. It would make sense for others to follow the DBacks’ lead, and show gratitude to the few corporations left making major contributions to communities in Phoenix.