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I'm sure you won't blame me for wanting to talk about the baseball I saw this year that didn't involve our beloved (and this year, mediocre) Braves. In my quest to eventually see all 30 MLB parks, I managed to hit three this year that were new to me: AT&T Park, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Yankee Stadium. The first part of this three-part series will focus on AT&T Park.
Seeing AT&T Park and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this year was unexpected. I made a last minute decision to attend a conference in San Francisco back in July. I was lucky enough to be there during the week while the Giants were in town and stayed through the weekend and saw the A's. Let's start with AT&T Park though. I've wanted to hit AT&T Park since my dad and I started this whole tour of ballparks back in 2001. Unfortunately he wasn't there with me, but I thought I should scout it out for him while I had the chance.
As far as the newer ballparks I've seen, AT&T Park is top notch. It's located in what appears to be a nice, clean part of town. I did notice that there are not a lot of options outside the park for a pre-game meal or drink though. People mostly seemed to be arriving by public transportation and going straight into the stadium. There also appeared to be a complete lack of scalpers outside the stadium. The game I went to was a weeknight game against the Nationals and I was able to walk up to the ticket window and purchase a great seat about fifteen rows directly above first base.
Once inside the stadium, I took a lap around to take it all in. One of the best views, of course, is from the right field concourse looking out over the water. I didn't realize until I saw it in person that the majority of their outfield seats are bleachers. I'm not a big fan of bleachers outside of older parks like Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. Anyhow, from the outfield concourse there are some gorgeous views looking out across the water. I'm sure you've all seen the boats that float around just outside the right field wall. Unfortunately, there weren't really any the night I was there, but it was a great view nonetheless. Continuing around the concourse towards left field there were some seafood concessions to go with the atmosphere, which was pretty unique as far as MLB ballparks are concerned. Just beyond the left field seats is an area where children can play and a huge Coke bottle that reminded me of Turner Field, although theirs was not made of bats and jerseys and such like ours.
Overall, AT&T was a nice park as far as new ballparks go. My biggest complaint was that their open concourse on the lower level between first and third base didn't provide much of a view of the field. Unlike the other parks I've been to with an open concourse, most of their concession stands were backed up against the back of the seats, therefore blocking the view. Not sure what the point of an open concourse is if you're going to block it with concession stands. For a little sneak peek into the next part of this series though, let me say that Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is worse. They actually had tarps up to block the view from the lower concourse!
Last but not least, I have to share the most out of the ordinary thing about AT&T Park: there are guys who go through the stands selling hot coffee. Seriously, I was there in late July (in jeans and a hooded sweatshirt mind you) and the coffee guy was making more sales than the ice cream guy. Guys actually walk around with a backpack that has a long tube with a nozzle from which they pour the coffee. It was like nothing I've ever seen before, especially considering this was a baseball game in late July.
All that being said, I definitely recommend that everyone see AT&T Park if they get the chance. Oh, and dress warmly!
(Pictures from the park to come soon.)