Ballpark #21: AT&T Park

My second day in San Francisco was spent playing tourist and seeing what the city has to offer. There are many guided tour options for the city, but being on a budget and all, I did the free option- walking. My only regret was I didn’t bring real shoes, so my feet are all torn up from my sandals. Regardless, I was able to see Union Square, Chinatown, Little Italy, Pier 39, the Fisherman’s Warf, and the Golden Gate Bridge on foot during the course of the afternoon. I recharged on sourdough bread (yum!) at Boudin before taking a street car over to 21st Amendment Brewery near AT&T Park to meet Sohan for an early dinner.

The streetcars cost $2 to ride and you can buy tickets when you board, making it a fairly easy option. I got on the wrong one so it took me a little out of my way, but lesson learned (read the sign). As for dinner, 21st Amendment while having fantastic craft beer has extremely lousy food. I definitely recommend hitting the place for a beer or two before or after a game but find another restaurant for food. Following our meal, we set out down the street a few blocks to check out the pre-game scene.

The outside of AT&T Park is almost more exciting than the actual field. The ballpark goes the retro route with dark red bricks laid in a linear pattern around a large window with green accents and topped with a cream cement line. Each gate is decked out with classic looking neon lights with a different former Giants star standing guard in front. I could feel my excitement build just walking up to the park, as it just exudes the baseball aura. We bought standing room tickets near the 2nd street gate (clock tower gate)  and walked around to the right field passing Public House and Mijita.  Though the allure and excitement over a splash hit has diminished since Barry Bond’s retirement, a stroll down the walkway behind the right-field wall is a must at this ballpark. The strip of concrete is a walk of fame with plaques and tributes (mainly to Bonds) and seeing the kayakers and other fans make their way into the bay is a special sight. The coolest attraction, though, has to be the standing room behind the right field. Fans without a ticket can come stand and watch a few innings at field level under the manually run scoreboard. I was surprised by how big the space was, and commend the Giants for offering this opportunity for fans unable to afford tickets.

After passing the marina and a large outdoor party area outside center field, Sohan and I entered the park at the Marina Gate and went down to the field to watch the end of the Padres batting practice. After never seeing the Padres in person during the entire course of my existence, I have now seen this team three times this season. Sohan joked that I was probably their most loyal fan. I laughed and told him to lay off my Pads, they’re trying! As for the ballpark, it looked like a palace compared to where I was the day before. The stands are broken up into three levels and the third level is stacked right on top of the second and pretty steep, keeping the fans close to the field. The outfield is wide open on either side of a very snazzy scoreboard, though the bay only abuts the right field. This park has some cool field seating on the end of either dugout that almost aligns with either team’s makeshift bullpens. Personally, I think new ballparks should have separate, enclosed bullpens, but to each his own. Once they started clearing the field, we headed up to walk around the main concourse and find a good place to watch the game.

The main concourse felt pretty small for a modern park and I don’t think the bathrooms were large enough for the crowd at the park. I was constantly standing in line at the lower level, a problem I haven’t run into at other ballparks. Maybe it was a fluke, but just in case, ladies make sure you give yourself some time! There were plenty of concessions and beer stands to choose from and the lines added a lot of congestion to the narrow walkway. Once we made it to the outfield the crowds lessened and we found a standing room spot behind the right field bleachers for the anthem and the first few innings.

If not for the crazy wind, I would have loved to stay in this spot the entire game, the view was great and the fans were passionate. Note to visitors attending night games- wear warm clothes, bring a coat, bring blankets! It is cold up in here! I was wearing long sleeves and jeans and was still freezing. In my head, July should be warm everywhere, but apparently, that isn’t so on the west coast. After a few innings, we walked toward center field, passing some brick stacks that shoot water during Giants’ home runs and an old street car before coming to an open concession and bar area behind the scoreboard.

Anchor Plaza (behind the scoreboard) should be called the taste of San Francisco because it houses a ton of neat little concession stands with local options. There is also a bar in the center, Anchor Brewery serving up local brews. We mingled here for a little while I rattled off about my excitement to slide down the Coca-Cola slide in left field. Unable to wait any longer we walked over to the slide where I found (much to my dismay) that the slide is only for fans 14 and younger. Not cool San Fran, not cool.

Unless you’re a kid, there’s not much to do in left field. This area has a slide, a giant mitt, mini baseball field, and a Build-a-Bear (or a Lou Seal) to keep your youngsters busy while you watch the game. After shooting some jealous glances, I followed Sohan to a standing room spot along the first baseline. This was perfect since we were close to the field and protected from the wind. We watched a few more innings before reluctantly making our way up to the 300 level.

I say reluctantly only because we thought the wind would be out of control at the highest level. It was chilly walking through the open 300 level concourse, (200 level closed to non-suite and club ticket holders) but once we walked out to the stands, it died down a bit. From up here, we had the perfect angle to watch Buster Posey launch a home run into right field. I was ecstatic; dude is on my fantasy team- points! That is another thing I love about traveling around to all the parks, I get the opportunity to check up on my team. I like to think I’m a hands on manager. Anyways, the stacks shot off water in celebration and the fog horn brought with the team from Candlestick Park sounded off. By this time the Giants had secured a pretty big lead and the park was thumping!

Sohan and I walked back to the standing room behind first base and enjoyed the rest of the game (Giants won 7-1) before walking back to the BART station and his apartment. Great Monday night baseball experience! For this trip, I spent $2 on a street car ride, $25 for my ticket, and $26 on food and drink ($53 in all). I had included my flight and BART pass in my previous post on my trip to Coliseum and will give a final tally after I review Safeco Field next week. My thoughts on AT&T Park are overall positive, though I think this park lacks some originality. I’m sad MLB is cutting down on interleague play because I’d love to see the Yankees play here, especially against the current team since they’re so much fun to watch. Hmmm… maybe I’ll get my wish this November!

For more pictures of my visit to AT&T Park and my other ballparks of baseball trips, check out my Flickr account. For a guide to help you plan your trip, click here!


4 thoughts on “Ballpark #21: AT&T Park

  1. Great review! Love the photos, especially of the open right-field stands — standing up there and looking out over McCovey Cove is one of the best panoramas in the MLB today. And I’m sure it helped washed the stink of the Coliseum off.


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