Slowly but surely I am in the process of finishing my work on my ballpark photos from my ballpark travels the past 3 years. As you will tell from my photos in my photo albums, I’ve been priveledged to take in the action from some of the finest parks in the Majors. And as of last season, I can say that I have been to every current NL West venue. After Dodger Stadium, here is how I rank the NL West Ballparks
2. COORS FIELD
The Rockies really did good by building their digs in an area of Denver known as LODO and revitalizing the neighborhood. Coors blends in nicely with the surrounding brick buildings in LODO. Inside Coors, tickets, which were once a hard find, are ample these days. If seated in the upper reaches down the RF line, you get a gorgeous view of the mountains beyond LF. I’ve been told the time to come if you really want a great view is in April, with the mountains still being snow-capped. Also, you will want to check out Coors signature area, the rockpile in CF, where, placed next to the visitors bullpen, you will find an actual rock formation with REAL rocks ( Did you hear that, Anaheim ? ), a nice grass path, and of course, a water display. Above the rocks are seats known as the Rockpile, which if you’re on a budget, run for $4. The seats are a bit distant, but for $4, not that bad. Besides, unlike a lot of stadiums, ( Including Dodgers Stadium), bleacher patrons are not restricted soley to that area for Coors allows pedestrian access throughout the stadium.
3. AT&T PARK
Being a pitcher friendly ballpark, AT&T is actually quite cozy. Because the yard, which has gone through 3 different names in it’s 7th year of existance ( Thanks to a couple of mergers ), was built right next to the bay, land was pretty much at a premium. The councourses are a bit narrower than usual for a new facility, again, due to the limited availalability of land, but if you’ve ever watched a game at Candlestick, you will agree that AT&T is a much welcomed change , right? If you don’t feel like driving ( FYI, parking can run you about $20 ), San Francisco has a great trasnportation system ( Are you listening, MTA ? ). The Muni trolley drops you off right by the stadium, and the trolley is accessible from any of the BART stations on Market St. Or if you decide it’s a nice day for a stroll, the yard is only a 15 minute walk from Market St. The Giants do a nice job of honoring their history , the signature being that of Willy Mays in front of the HP entrance dubbed Willy Mays Plaza, with 24 palm trees in honor of, #24 himself. If you have a chance to walk along the portwalk behind RF, you will see markers depicting a historical moment in Giants history. Oh yeah, you can even check out the game from the chain link fence there too. The fans are permitted 3 free innings to allow other fans a glimps, but should the Giants be playing someone like, an interleague game against TB on a Tuesday night, you should have no problem watching the entire game there. Inside the yard, some of the best seats are down the RF line, especially the upper RF seats, which offers the best views of the bay and the hills beyond. The Arcade in RF is a bit pricey for bleacher seats. And for you budget minded road tripper, AT&T offers SRO’s for $13. The best location for SRO’s are by the huge Coke bottle in LF, which has a kids slide inside. If your out ther, you should also check out the huge mitt out there too.
3. PETCO PARK
When PETCO PARK was built, it was meant to be a pither friendly yard. And boy is it ever. What the Friars did not realize, however, is that their own offense would be affected as well as power number would significantly go down, thus it’s no coincidence they’ve ranked in the bottom or the league the last 3 season in HR’s hit. As for the yard, aside from the old Western Metal Wherehouse building, which houses 2 levels of luxury suites, a restaurant, rooftop bleachers and viewing a la Waveland Ave. in Chicago, PETCO is anything but retro. Rather than a traditional brick yard which many have replicated over the years, the Pads actually have used California limestone thus giving the yard a sorta SoCal feel. Instead of the traditional ballpark green seats, the Friars use dark navy blue to accompany the white painted steel. The term no bad seat in the house almost applys here, but not quite. Though the cantilevered seats in the upper deck put you on top of the action, you still if you can want to avoid the upper reaches down the lines, particulary RF, where the seats are at such an angle you can lose the outfielder in the underhang if he makes a play by the foullines. Also worse are seats in the outfield, dubbed the " Beachers " becuase of the sandlot in front of the seats. These seats are so low that the wall from the RF seats block you view RCF and beyond. There is talk however of raising those seats. If you just wanna be cheap and claim an empty seat, SRO’S SELL FOR $5. However, should the game actually be sold out, there is a nice grass berm behind the CF Beachers that offers a picnic style atmostphere. But the best SRO in the stadium is acutally right by the LF foulpole. To get there, enter through the team store in LF through the WMS building, then when you see the chain link fence by LF, you are there. And yes, if they are playing the Giants, Barry will hear you loud and clear from there….
5. CHASE FIELD
When I last visited, it was dubbed the BOB. Again, thanks to corporate mergers, another name change takes place. Chase Field has a retractable roof, and when the roof is closed on many a muggy Arizona summer night, the climate controled digs that blasts it’s AC to it’s fullest is a welcomed relief for these desert residents. Calling a yard with a retractable roof retro is a stretch for me, but the Snakes do a presentation when it comes to hosting a baseball game. Along the lower concourse, you will see a timeline that circles the whole concourse that gives historical facts of pretty much every team, so no matter who you cheer for, you’re likely to see your team up there as well. Heck , if you’re a D-Ray fan, you might actually find something too. Also, TV monitors accompany the timelines as well, showing numerous baseball clips of past glory during pre-game, and of course game action during the game. Tickets are pretty easy to get here. Much has been made about the lack of attendance in Arizona, but 1 theory I may have , based on my trip there to see the Blue, is that because many teams have had Spring Training sites in Arizona for many years, and a lot of transplants reside in Phoenix as well, many of these folks have maintained their ties to either their ST affliliated team or the hometown team, especially the Cubs fans. The greater Phoenix area has plenty of transplants and unlike LA, is not a huge market. That’s not to say that these fans are not interested in local baseball.
So, there is my critique of the NL West yards. Being a bit biased, I am one to believe that the NL West has some of the best yards as well. Well, I’d like to hear your ballpark stories. Maybe some pictures as well ? See you at the ballpark….