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02/21/09 1:02 PM EST

Indians show off new spring home

Fans turn out for first workout at Goodyear Ballpark

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The peppy sound of Buck-O-Nine's "My Town" was pumping through the speakers at Goodyear Ballpark as Grady Sizemore took batting practice Saturday morning.

It was a picture-perfect, sun-splashed day, and for many of the 4,250 people attending the Indians' FanFest here, it marked the start of the Tribe's long-term relationship with their town.

The Indians invited the people of Goodyear and its surrounding areas out to their new spring home for a free open house. Fans got to watch the Tribe's morning workout, and many of them walked away with an autograph from the likes of Sizemore or Victor Martinez or Jhonny Peralta, to name a few.

"This is just an absolutely beautiful facility," said Tribe fan Dale Manelski, who moved out to Arizona from Cleveland two and a half years ago. "The whole state of Arizona is excited to have the Indians here."

The new ballpark, which holds up to 10,000 fans and features grassy knolls where fans can sit on each side of the center field batter's eye and a party deck above the right-field wall, drew rave reviews not just from the fans but also from the players. For many of them, this workout was their first exposure to the beautiful spring spot.

"The field is really good," Peralta said. "In Winter Haven [the Indians' previous spring home in Florida], sometimes the ground would get hard, but this is nice and soft."

Fans began arriving at the ballpark in the wee hours of the morning. After a short ribbon-cutting ceremony, fans stormed the gates to be among the first to step into the new facility.

"It looked like a great turnout," manager Eric Wedge said. "It looked like everybody was having a great time. Tremendous atmosphere up there."

The Indians will have an intrasquad game at the new ballpark on Tuesday. They'll play their Cactus League opener there Wednesday against the Giants.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.