Trips to American cities for me recently have come up roses for getting to see baseball games. Twins games in Minneapolis, an Astros game in Houston, a Cubs game and a White Sox game in Chicago, a long dream fulfilled to see a game at Fenway in Boston… but this trip to Seattle came a couple of weeks after the end of the thrilling 2016 season. Luckily for me, Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, offers year-round tours. It’s not quite the same as getting to spend a few hours with a beer in your hand watching a game, but the tour offered by the Mariners let me see their ballpark in much more depth.
And what a beautiful park it is. Even in late November, our tour was treated to a spectacular day to wander around the stadium. First stop after some introductory history of the team and its old stadium was the upper level seats behind home plate. From here, you get an outstanding overall perspective. It also would be a great place to watch a game if you wanted to save a few bucks on tickets.
I just wrote about the public art I got to see in Seattle and on this tour, we were shown some of the art that adorns the stadium. My favourite piece was a mosaic of autographed discs inlaid in the floor along the third base concourse. Of course, what brought a smile to my face was that the team’s mascot, Mariner Moose, got his own disc.
The tour moved down to the club suites level and we had some time to see how you could experience a ballgame (or a season of games!) if you had crazy money to burn – your own dedicated bar and food service, temperature controlled outdoor seating areas, and a pretty great view of the game as well.
We then moved down one more level to the press box. I think they’re giving the reporters far too nice a view of the game. From this vantage point, you can see the roof line of the football stadium just beyond the left field fence.
The tour also took us on some other behind the scenes parts of the ballpark – a TV studio, administrative offices, grounds crew facilities, and my favourite, the press room for pre and post-game interviews and special events. I even took the opportunity to sit at the podium to face the cameras.
Like any good stadium tour, the highlight is getting down to field level. I really enjoyed the amount of time the Mariners dedicated to letting you explore the park from the perspective of the players. Here I am on the field, very happy, and rocking my Expos t-shirt as I do at every baseball related thing I attend.
Although strictly forbidden to walk on the grass, when no one was looking, I just had to do this to say I actually walked on the grass at Safeco Field. Please don’t tell the Mariners.
Safeco is a really beautiful park. The unique roof is the most prominent feature. Rather than sealing in the park like other retractable roofs around baseball, this one borrows from Seattle culture and acts as an umbrella when it is closed, letting air flow through the stadium, but keeping the rain off of the fans and players. You still get a semblance of outdoor baseball, even while protected from the rain.
The time we were allotted on the field was so generous that I got to spend a few minutes sitting in the dugout imagining what it would be like to sit here on a game day looking out to the field.
For the last stop, we went into the visitor’s locker room. They had placed Mariners jerseys here to remind you they were for sale in the team shop where we’d be heading to conclude the tour. The Mariners are pretty nice to their visiting teams as this was a large well equipped space – far nicer than some facilities provided to the opposition I have seen on other stadium tours.
Not a baseball game, but a nice in-depth, behind the scenes look at the stadium. Opening day 2017 can’t come fast enough for me.