AT&T PARK

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Hundreds of words have already been written about the beauty of AT&T Park. The location, the layout, the design, the individual ballpark features. Well, here are some more words, tempered with a touch of reality.

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Yes, it is gorgeous; the exterior echoing ballparks of the past, and the interior seating bowl offering a graceful curve bordered by McCovey Cove. Shots looking towards the outfield could not be mistaken for any other ballpark anywhere else in the world. “Majestic” would not be an overstatement.

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You will want to budget some extra time to take the full 360 walk around the outside of the ballpark, and to make a side trip out to the Willie McCovey statue at the end of McCovey Cove. There are also statues around the perimeter for Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, and Orlando Cepeda. You also won’t want to forget (like I did) to take a look in through the Portwalk, a walkthrough area under the right field bleachers where fans can watch up to three innings of the game before being asked to move along and give others a turn.

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Navigating the ballpark inside is another story. I realize that the day I was there is not a good example, because it was Tim Lincecum bobblehead day, so not only did the ballpark sell out, it also did not fill gradually – it filled quickly and immediately, making it impossible to move around. I imagine that on any other day the experience is far more pleasant, but still was not that impressed with the narrowness of the passages.

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But you can avoid all of that, as the best food is located out in centerfield, adjacent to the giant baseball glove and giant Coke bottle. I didn’t know that the Coke bottle housed a slide, open to “children of all ages”. If you want to experience the slide, go there right away – there will be a long, long line later.

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In terms of food, you are spoiled for choice. You have the legendary cha cha bowl, the garlic fries, and the Crazy Crab sandwich. There are vendors serving hot chocolate up and down the aisles, and you can also order a Ghirardelli sundae and have it brought to you in your seat. And, yes, there are days where both will be suitable, often within an inning or two.

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They also serve in-seat SUNDAES

The mascot is Lou Seal. He was prominent, friendly, and personable. He can be found out near the Coke bottle around time for the stretch if you’re looking for a photo.

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The unofficial former mascot, the Crazy Crab, is well represented around the ballpark, never fear. I love the Crazy Crab. It is well worth your time to do some research about this unlovable anti-mascot of the Giants.

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Even if you don’t want food, please take the walk along the outfield wall. You’ll want the views of the cove and of the Bay Bridge. There is nowhere else you are going to get these views, ever, and they are stunningly beautiful.

Batting practice has restricted access to the far edges of the dugouts. The day I was there and had tickets that allowed me access behind the dugout, I had the place to myself the entire time. The only other people interested were the professional autograph hounds who parked themselves at the other end of the dugout. I’m not sure what the point is of limiting BP access is.

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There’s not much around the ballpark in terms of food or drink. There is some commerce, but it’s not exactly Yawkey Way or Waveland Avenue. There seemed to be more pre-game options than post-game options – however, the area is improving and has improved over the years; it’s striving to be a city ballpark more than a suburban one, and public transit access is right at the ballpark. It’s also a 20 minute walk from BART. If you’d like to walk to the park, you can stay near the Convention Center and you’ll be 15 minutes away; if you want to stay on the Embarcadero or in one of the more touristy locations, you can hop the trolley.

What you will not be suspecting is the vitriol of the fans at AT&T Park. They are terrible. For a Mets fan, it was like going to a game in Philadelphia, only worse, because I did not expect it. So expect that if you are there to root for the opposing team, they will be vicious. It went far beyond the normal type of good-natured razzing of opposing fans that I am accustomed to. Now, that said, we met more than a few polite, interesting Giants fans (we had a very long wait in the bobblehead line, and had a lovely family in front of us), but it was the only park we visited in two weeks where we got non-stop hassle just walking around. I can’t imagine what it would be like at a Dodgers game. We were even hassled sitting in our Lexus Club seats – it was only halted through the intervention of a woman whose season tickets are in that location, who leaned over and said, “She’s just trying to watch the game, leave her alone.” Maybe it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was if we had been expecting it, so, be warned.

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My other warning will be to not underestimate the weather. I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Bay Area. I have written other guides for other events for people where I cautioned them that even if it was sunny and warm when they left the hotel, that they will freeze at night. Even with all of that background, I was inadequately prepared for the chilly San Francisco evening. I didn’t feel too bad once I spoke with some beat writers who said that the same thing happens to them. Bring a sweatshirt, no matter how dumb you might feel carrying it around at 3 o’clock. You will need it.

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We took the tour of AT&T Park, but it was terrible. The group was too large, and it was impossible to hear the guide. There was a corporate event that day so we could not visit the dugouts, the warning track, or the lower seating bowl, and access to other areas was rushed. If it had not been our last day in San Francisco I would have come back and tried again, but would have made specific inquiries as to what access was available that day – all tours have a caveat that specific access may be limited, but this was so limited that the tour should have been canceled.

I saw two games at AT&T and enjoyed myself, and it’s so gorgeous (and in a city so fantastic) that I could probably forget the obnoxious fans and try to come back again for a series. But the fan experience definitely detracts from the overall luster.

Game reports: 8/17 | 7/18

2 Responses to “AT&T PARK”

  1. Ed Leyro says:

    I completely agree with you about the Giants fans. As TBH (The Better Half) and I noticed, we believe they’re just bitter because in the 53 seasons they’ve had a major league team in San Francisco, they’ve yet to witness a World Series victory.

    The walls outside AT&T Park celebrate their various championships, but the majority of them came as the New York Giants (five titles in New York). In fact, the San Francisco Giants have only played in three World Series (losing them all) in their half-century in the Bay Area.

    Giants fans should welcome fans from New York to their ballpark. After all, if not for the Giants’ history in New York, they’d have no history at all.

  2. Danielbalc says:

    I stumbled upon this site from a link on gaslampball.com and I’m glad I have.

    I have really enjoyed the few reviews I’ve read so far. I’m quite curious to get your feeling as to how Petco park and AT&T park match up overall.

    I’m from San Diego and I am a die hard Padre fan and I’m very curious how an unbiased individual would compare the two.

    Also what you said about Giant fans is true, not only at home but also down in San Diego. They are far and away my least favorite people to interact with. There seems to be a sort of ignorant arrogance about them that just rubs everyone the wrong way.

    I look forward to reading up on the rest of your blog.