Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ballparks Tour: Safeco Field, Seattle

I took these photos while touring Safeco Field during the Mariners FanFest before the 2003 season.

Here we approach the Leftfield Gate:

This is probably your first view of the park if you're walking from downtown, Pioneer Square, and the ferries. Fans coming from that direction tend to get funneled down an alleyway where vendors sell kettle corn and other ballpark fare, then past the Seahawks Stadium and convention center until arriving at this point.

Looking back at the Seahawks Stadium, since named after a company whose name shall not pass my lips or through my fingers:

Getting closer...

The North side of the ballpark. If anyone ever manages to slug a home run beyond the LF bleachers and out of the stadium, it would come out here on Royal Brougham Way.

The walk down 1st Ave. South, along the West side of the building. The main Rotunda Gate is down at the end.

Ichiro on the side exits.

And Edgar.

Public phones

Looking North, back towards downtown and parts from whence we came.

I didn't take an exterior picture of the Rotunda Gate on this day, maybe because I already had a shot on film from another visit. But that picture isn't on my computer. So if you want to look at that now, Brian Merzbach has a shot.

So now we're inside...

This is inside the Rotunda, which was inspired by the main gate at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The sculpture hanging from the ceiling is the Bat Chandalier, a spiral of white glass bats.

At the top of the stairs, you'll walk over this rose compass on the floor and see...

The field view from the main concourse. Safeco Field is an excellent place for fans who like to walk around during the game. There is standing room with views of the field all over the place on each level, and the club invites you to stop and loiter. It's become common for new parks to have main concourses open to the field, but I think Seattle has the widest concourse with the most open view of the game that I've seen.

Oh, see the puddles in the infield? I guess they left the roof open the night before. The people in line are waiting their turn to throw a pitch from the mound, before getting the boot off the other side like Ralphie after visiting Santa in A Christmas Story.

(OK, I may be making some of that up.)

While you're standing on the concourse, why not try an Ichiroll?

Or maybe meet the Mariner Moose.

That day the Moose had some mascot company, as the Tacoma Rainiers mascot was there to work crowd control and give noogies to children. You want to know his name? Rhubarb the Rainiers Reindeer.

Hand to God, I kid you not (this time).

In the LF wall, see the slot between the Tully's sign and the scoreboard? That's a spyview looking out from the Bullpen Pub. Brew patrons can watch the game from that vantage point, or else spy on pitchers in the bullpen through knotholes in another wall.

Past the LF scoreboard and above the bullpens, you can see the #42 hanging in honor of Jackie Robinson. There are no retired Mariners numbers, but soon Edgar Martinez will have his #11 up there, too. The city already renamed the block on the South side of the ballpark, Edgar Martinez Drive. Griffey's #24 will go up someday after he retires. Perhaps in 30 years, after current ownership is gone and hard feelings have softened, the club may hang up a #3 when that generation of management decides to stake a claim to the Eddie Haskell of Baseball's Hall of Fame career.
Until then: bite me, Alex.

View from field level. Now the roof is open!
In the photo tour biz, we call these "continuity errors."
See how many more you can spot!

View of the stands.

Inside the press box.

View from the press box.

Now downstairs...

The players' weight room. Note the Jay Buhner Growth Chart.

The Mariners locker room. Swank, eh? Except, they spent over $500m to build the place. They give the players the leather couches and a big TV. So what's with the table from IKEA?

The jersey hanging towards the far end belonged to Mike Cameron. We'll get down to that corner in a moment.

Players' stacks of music. It amused me that one on top was called "Off the Hook!"

Edgar's locker(s). He had three locker stalls to himself, such are the perks of being The Man.

Meanwhile, Ichiro had not yet earned such exalted status of seniority. He and his black bats had just the one stall between Norm Charlton and Mike Cameron. The jersey on the left is the one I pointed out in the first shot of the room. Ichiro had at least one clubhouse perk at the time, though. Such was the media demand to speak to Ichiro each day, he had his own interview room.

That concludes our tour of Safeco Field, as we leave and walk past the King Street train station, and make our way back to Pioneer Square, downtown, and points beyond.

The black skyscraper is the Columbia Tower, although I think it's owned by Bank of America now, and it's the tallest building in Seattle. The white pointed building to the immediate left is the Smith Tower. At one time, it was the tallest building West of the Mississippi! I wish I had a pithy, philosophical remark to tie that together... but I was up late watching a 14-inning game last night, you know? I got nothin'. I just like the dramatic contrast between the two buildings in the shot.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. We'll have photos of another ballpark next week!


At 8/12/2005 2:06 AM, Anonymous Steve Scott said...

Nice shots of what I hear is a nice park. Almost went there once...

By any chance is the next park the Oakland Coliseum? Your team is in town to play against the more optimistic side of Bay Area ball.

Tourist tip: The Coliseum and SBC Park are the only two parks in the bigs that can be seen from one another. If you're in the right location in the last row of the upper deck, and the arena isn't in your way, you can see right across the bay to SBC in downtown SF. Enjoy!

At 8/12/2005 11:04 AM, Blogger Batgirl said...

Dear Mr. Wig,

Beautiful, just beautiful.


At 8/12/2005 12:58 PM, Anonymous Twins Geek said...


Got a question for you....

A number of times, I've mentioned that I DON'T want to see a retractable roof on the Twins new ballpark. I also don't want it to be roof-ready. I just feel that adding that element, and the architecture required to support it, turns it from a ballpark to a stadium. Turns it from Wrigley or Camden into Miller Park, with a Mall of America feel.

The inevitable response is "It doesn't have to be that way. You haven't seen SafeCo or Houston's stadium." And they're right, I haven't.

So my question to you is, are they right? Is it a ballpark, or a stadium? Is SafeCo going to stand up to the reputation of a great ballpark 30 years from now?


At 8/12/2005 3:25 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

John, it's a ballpark. When the roof is open, unlike Miller Park, you really don't sense it being there unless you really want to think about it. From the stands, the only visible part of the retracted roof just looks like an eyelid above the RF deck. The rest of the roof moves out over a train yard on the East side, where pedestrians typically wouldn't be walking by.

I haven't seen a game there with the roof closed, but I've been told that you forget about it because it's painted dark like the night sky.

I really, really dislike Miller Park. But I love going to Safeco Field.

Steve: I haven't been to the Oakland Coliseum since I was an infant, so that won't be in my series anytime soon. However, I do have pictures to post of SBC Park. I just have to get the scanner going.

Beege: thanks!

At 8/12/2005 5:54 PM, Anonymous spycake said...

A chandelier of white ass-bats? Oh, GLASS bats. Nevermind.

Nice pics. I went to Miller Park last month, and looking at your pictures, Safeco does seem reminiscent with the concourses and the roof. In Miller Park, though, the only view outside the stadium is through a rectangular opening in center field (where you can see the interstate!). Safeco appears to be open in left field, but the roof structure looks fairly imposing towering over right.

At 8/12/2005 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great ballpark. Even better city for beer (although the Pyramid Alehouse near the stadium is only mediocre).


At 8/13/2005 10:30 AM, Anonymous dorkyhouse said...

great shots. i had my first other ballpark experience this year at fenway (interesting history, crappy wooden seats, rude fans made me appreciate MN) and my sister and i are considering seattle for our next one. now i can't wait. thank you.
being an out-of-stater, i'm all for a retractable roof to make sure i get a game for my travel time. i hope they do it right.

At 8/13/2005 11:50 PM, Anonymous MOM said...

Grandma is spending her 82nd birthday at Safeco tomorrow, August 14th. Hope they win after being clobbered by the A's for two days in a row.

At 8/14/2005 1:52 PM, Anonymous bjhess said...

Nice pics!

FYI, your link to me no longer works. will work long term since I have the subdomain pointed to wherever it needs to go.

At 8/22/2005 10:14 PM, Blogger SBG said...

Edgar had three lockers? Who does he think he is? Barry Bonds???


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