More than any other sport, a Major League ball club’s stadium has an outsize impact on how its fanbase feels about the team. Each ball park is unique. From game day atmosphere to concessions, down to the very dimensions of the field, no two ball parks are alike. Each ballpark has its own unique environment, a reflection of the fanbase and the city as a whole.
With this in mind, I’m making it a mission to review every park I go to in the hopes of sharing my experiences with other GAGuys and maybe embracing some friendly debate with host fanbases. First on the docket, Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. I saw Carlos Carrasco of the Indians get the start against James Paxton of the hometown Ms on a beautiful, brisk Saturday afternoon in what was a really good ballgame.
Atmosphere: Granted it was Opening Weekend, but their was a definite buzz walking into the stadium down 1st Avenue. There is a row of food vendors as you approach the entrance. Everyone in a good mood and it smells outstanding. There are plenty of bars and restaurants surrounding the stadium so you feel like you’re in a baseball neighborhood. The concourses were packed and the fans were (mostly) locked in for most of the game. Have to dock some points for starting the wave in the 8th inning of a one-run ballgame. There was also waaaaay too much going on on the video board, especially between innings. Less is more. GRADE: B+
Concessions: Wanted more here. I had heard good things about the food at Safeco, but found most of the offerings a little too cute. Call me old-fashioned, I don’t want to eat crickets at a ballgame. The beer selection was a highlight, but vendors walking the grandstand were few and far between, and the food itself was nothing to write home about. GRADE: B
Aesthetics: The field itself is beautiful, but this is a park that looks better from far away. Inside the Stadium, the retractable roof gives the park a heavy feel. Like I’m watching the game inside a shopping mall. There isn’t much of a view and there’s too many seats in the shade (especially in a relatively cold weather city) due to the overhang from the retractable roof. Plus, the stadium is just too damn big. The concourses felt jam packed and their were still huge sections in the upper deck that were completely empty. Not a good look. GRADE: B-
Location: I don’t know if this is true for locals, but the location is damn near perfect for a visitor staying downtown near the Market. It’s a quick, interesting walk away from downtown. The location discourages driving to the game, which is all the better in my book. Located next to CenturyLink Field and surrounded by bars, the neighborhood creates an real game day environment. The location is uniquely Seattle as it right next to the port and the Puget Sound. GRADE: A
Logistics: Logistics stunk. I’ve never seen a longer line for the men’s room. Guys going in and out both doors. No troths. Not enough bathrooms. It wasn’t remotely close to capacity crowd, and you have to wait 10 minutes to take a leak. Un-American. The lines were even worse in the team store and the concession stands. Your stadium sits close to 50,000 fans. High customer volumes shouldn’t come as a surprise. Figure it out, people. GRADE: C
FINAL GRADE: 7.1/10
All in all, a damn nice place to watch a ballgame. The weather was beautiful and the buzz in the stadium was real. Not perfectly any stretch of the imagination, but you wouldn’t have to beg me to come back.
Let me know if you agree, disagree, what I missed, and what you think.