My flight up to Seattle was scheduled for the butt-crack of dawn, but lucky me, the flight was overbooked so I was bumped to a later flight and got a voucher for my “troubles.” That should come in handy later this summer! Once I arrived in Seattle I checked my bag at Ken’s Baggage in baggage claim and was on my way for the day. I bought a day pass ($5.50) for the Central Link Light Rail that runs from the airport to the Westlake stop near the Convention Center, though this is another city that doesn’t check your tickets. The downtown area is also a free ride zone on the buses, so renting a car here is unnecessary. I love these kinds of cities! Again I played tourist and saw all the Seattle sights and then some- stopping at the Space Needle, the Farmers Market, and of course the original Starbucks. The city is beautiful though I would have loved to go a little north for whale watching. Next trip for sure! After wondering around for the afternoon I made my way back to the rail stop and headed to the Stadium stop which is conveniently across from Safeco Field.
As soon as I got off the light rail and got an eyeful of the park, I was in love. The retractable roof was open, forming a cave over the train tracks behind the scoreboard in center and right field. It’s an impressive monstrosity of green steel that carries on around the top of most of the ballpark. Tan brick columns support the steel structure and turn red after the Left Field Gate to the Home Plate Gate. The tan and red brick give the park a classic feel and along with yellow gate signs, some retro charm is added to the otherwise modern venue. In between the columns are electronic ticket machines, large posters of former Mariner greats and those of the current roster, and the team store near home plate. I purchased my ticket and then took a detour down Occidental Ave S. to check out the small street fair. There were plenty of food trucks, snack stands, and memorabilia for sale. Most of the shops were advertising half off Ichiro jerseys, which made me feel a little bad for Mariners fans. I walked back to the park, ate a sandwich from Blazing Bagels, and then entered the Center Field Gate to hang out in The ‘Pen.
The ‘Pen opens up two and a half hours before first pitch and is one of the coolest batting practice pre-game spots in baseball. It boasts awesome beer specials ($5 until an hour before the game), an outfield view of both team’s batting practice, and the closest bullpen experience you’ll find. The way Safeco is set up, both team’s bullpens are next to the lower level of the right field concourse and fans might as well be standing next to the pitchers as they warm-up. You can pretty much feel the balls zoom by you as they throw! I stood here mesmerized for a bit before heading up to the main concourse to get to the field for Yankees batting practice.
I love watching batting practice (especially when it’s my team); sometimes it’s almost as exciting as the game. Jeter and Cano were in good spirits joking around with their newest team member- Ichiro. Jeter usually isn’t so goofy during batting practice, maybe he was making up for Swisher’s absence! As batting practice carried on, I walked back up to the main concourse to make a loop around the park before first pitch. The walkway is quite wide and airy and I as I walked around I noted the Asian influence in the concessions. No doubt Ichiro had a strong role in this, but also Seattle’s “proximity” to Asia helps. Behind a row of stands along first base is the Mariners Hall of Fame which has a bunch of displays on the team and the sport’s history in Seattle. There’s also a giant outfield wall for fans to do their best impersonations of stealing a home run ball- fun! Walking through this area takes you by the home plate rotunda where you’re greeted by a giant baseball bat chandelier and leads to some other stellar ballpark art before narrowing into the outfield concourse.
The game was getting ready to start as I walked through the outfield concourse, so I decided to start from the top of the park and work my way down (you know to mix things up a little!). I walked up some steps to the 300 level concourse and watched the first few innings from an overlook in right field. I liked the view of the park and the city skyline from here and ended up chatting it up with a fellow Yankees fan. After the top of the 3rd, I headed towards home plate and found a large picnic area and the first nod to the women’s baseball league I’ve ever seen in an MLB park. Cool! The 300 level doesn’t feel very far from the game action from the lower rows, though I wouldn’t want to sit on the very top. I’m sure you could move down a few rows without a problem (especially when the Yankees aren’t in town). In the left field of this level is the Lookout Landing Bar which looks like a fun patio bar, but the view of the field isn’t that great from the gated off all you can eat section. Most of the people here didn’t seem to mind though and stood around the tables ignoring the game in progress. Weird.
With the 300 level scoured, I took an escalator down, stopping briefly at the 200 level to check out the small area open to all fans near the Sound Seafood stand. The rest of this level is club and suites, nothing too exciting! There were nice views of the gates and the street fair, which had picked up considerably. I made my way back down to the main concourse behind the 100 level and managed to squeeze in the standing room behind the third base. There I had a fantastic view of the game and the King’s Court section in left field. This section is present only when Felix Hernandez is pitching (thanked my lucky stars for this!) and adds a college football like element to the park. The whole section dons yellow shirts and holds up yellow “K” signs, chanting during every potential third strike. They were loud and brought, even more, excitement to the game- I’m going to blame them for so many Yanks striking out (power of the 10th man 😉 ).
After a couple of innings, I walked along the main concourse stopping behind home plate to watch Ichiro and Jeter’s at bats before making my way again to the outfield concourse. I stopped briefly to chat with a stadium usher about some of the stadium art and the design of the ballpark. She told me that Safeco Field was designed by the same architect as AT&T Park, which can explain some of the classic brickwork. I prefer this park a lot more with the steel work and larger concourses, but that’s just me! From right field, I walked along to center field and found the kid’s area, which is nicely tucked away behind what might be the creepiest statue I’ve even seen. For adults there’s a pitch speed game set up with the batter dressed in the opposing team’s uniform- wonder if that makes people throw harder?
I ended up standing directly over the Mariner’s bullpen in left field for an inning as the game started to heat up with Hernandez beaning both Ichiro and Jeter. The view from here was great, but I got stuck next to a dumb female fan, who had no idea what was going on. AHHH! Guess I was bound to run into the stereotyped clueless female fan eventually. Shaking my head, I decided to watch the remainder of the game from The ‘Pen, managing to find a spot behind the Yankees bullpen. Even with the slightly obstructed view, I saw was able to see ARod break his hand. Surrounded by fellow Yankee fans and in the heat of the moment, I was a bit pissed at this King Felix guy, who I had earlier thought was kind of cool.
The Yankees had a few chances with runners in scoring position, but the Mariners kept them at bay, winning 4-2. The friendly Seattle fans suddenly turned very cocky, but I ignored the jeers and took the light rail directly to the airport for my red eye back to Columbus. For this trip, I spent $8 on baggage storage, $5.50 on transportation, $25 on a ticket, and $12 on food ($50.50 in all).
For my entire west coast trip including trips to O.co Coliseum and AT&T Park, I spent $845 (glad this is my last trip out west!). Safeco Field was by far my favorite of the three parks. I can’t wait to visit again and spend more time in this lovely city!