Safeco Field may not have the heritage cachet that accompanies names like Wrigley or Fenway but this all-American ballpark, that opened in 1999, is making its own history. Through advanced renovations and technology, its connection to the community, and forward-thinking attitude when it comes to food and beverage options, the Mariners are the main attraction but Safeco is definitely an enjoyable destination.
For our trip last weekend, Rebecca Hale from the Mariners front office gave us a quick ballpark tour ahead of the game against the Texas Rangers. We started out near the Third Base entrance and she pointed out a few areas and attractions of interest.
Safeco Field is home of The Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame. Both are located along the main level along the Third Base line behind sections 133-136. The Museum and Hall of Fame are free and open to all fans during every Mariners home game and feature activities for kids (like trying out Edgar Martinez’s bat or posing for an outfield catch). The Mariners franchise began in 1977 but there is plenty of baseball history in the Pacific Northwest that took place before that time, which is celebrated at Safeco. The Mariners Hall of Fame honours six inductees: Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson.
“Our goal was to create an environment that is fair to both hitters and pitchers. Considering the former field dimensions as well as the climate in and around Safeco Field, we feel this was accomplished with the new layout.” – Executive Vice President and GM Jack Zdureincik.
The biggest news in the offseason was about how Safeco was going to move in their outfield wall by about 4 feet.
The biggest change, according to press materials supplied by the Mariners, is from the left field power alley area to the straightaway center (the fence across the field from home plate) where the wall is as much as 17 feet closer to home plate. Now instead of jutting out quickly to 341 feet, the wall juts out to 337 feet.
Moving the fence out into the field has allowed the ballpark to provide even more general gathering spaces for fans. One thing we love about Safeco is that once you’re in, you can head to your seat or you can hang out along the concourse, in The Pen, at Edgar’s, or a number of other open areas with high top tables or bars.
Probably the most noticeable change, if you weren’t aware of the outfield fence move, is the giant — I mean massive — scoreboard screen. At 56.7′ x 201.5′ it’s now the largest HD video screen in all of Major League Baseball. To give a local comparison, the new screen at BC Place has two sideline panels that are 68′ x 38′.
Food and Beverage
Two words: Garlic. Fries. Even before I had ever been to a Mariners game I knew that Safeco was know for its unique food offerings that went above and beyond standard ballpark fare. Options include (but are not limited to) clam chowder, sushi, roasted turkey, crepes, tacos, pasta, wood-fired pizza, burgers, shakes, frozen yogurt, Thai, Northwest Mexican. There are several vegetarian items offered by vendors as well as gluten-free menu items from The Natural, Bao Choi Steamed Buns, and All American Vegetarian.
The Pen, now with expanded patio area thanks to the outfield wall being moved, is open 2.5 hours before the start of the game and it offers $5 beers up to an hour before first pitch. It’s right at field level, near the bullpens, and has a fire pit, unobstructed views of the ballpark, and four destination concession stands: Ethan Stowell’s Hamburg + Frites and La Crêperie authentic Parisian crepes, New Haven-style pizza at Apizza by Bill Pustari, Authentic Mexican Tortuga sandwiches at the Tortugas Voladoras, and Flying Turtle Cantina.
Edgar’s is a new restaurant lounge, open to all ticketed fans on game day. The view from the previous restaurant used to be through a small horizontal opening in the manual scoreboard. Now, the board has been moved down and the roof peeled off giving fans another patio experience and great views of the park. Edgar’s offers “Northwest Mexican” cuisine such as carne asada tacos, and Mexican tortas. Edgar Martinez’s own line of mezcal, Zac, is used in signature cocktails like the .312 (his batting average).
The beer selection at Safeco rivals that of brewpubs in Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. You can get local crafts on tap, pour a big bottle of Elyisan IPA, and order some of the best Pacific Northwest brews around.
Mariners tickets start at just $11 (single game, bleacher seats) and options include main, club and view levels, Hit it Here Cafe seating, Terrace Club, and more. Ticket specials include family game night packages that include hot dogs and pop, college night specials, seniors discounts, and Guys & Girls Night Out.