Ballpark Review: Safeco Field

Franchise: Seattle Mariners

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 54,097

Games Attended: May 14 and May 15, 2016 v Los Angels Angels

Section 321, Row 1, Seat 7; Section 129, Row 14, Seat 21

Opening up in 1999, Safeco Field is one of the first modern parks to have a modern look, opposed to the vintage look a place like Camden Yards went for. Almost twenty years later, Safeco still looks in good condition. In fact, I keep surprising myself every time I remember Safeco opened in the 90s and not the 2000s. When a park can do that, you know it’s a nice place to watch a game.

1) Aesthetics- 19.5/25

Exterior- 3.5/5

Like a lot of modern parks, Safeco goes for the classic Ebbets Field rotunda at the home plate entrance- and fortunately they pull it off. Outside of that though, there isn’t anything special about the stadium exterior. It’s solid, but nothing stands out and it’s not a park you can completely circle by walking, based on it’s location.

Interior- 8/10

For a stadium with a retractable roof, Safeco Field does a great job hiding that fact. In Arizona and Houston, it’s tough to ignore the roof. In Safeco, the only hint there is one is the lighting. Even then, it’s not so bad as the roof doesn’t entirely enclose the stadium so you still get some natural lighting and natural feel to the place. I love the big video board in right field and I think the overall look of the park does a good job capturing the vibe of Seattle.

Backdrop- 8/10

There is no backdrop in center field and right field because of the retractable roof. However, one of the better skyline views in baseball can be seen in left field. Over those seats you have a full view of the city, from Century Link Stadium right next door all the way to the Space Needle. It’s pretty neat, especially on a clear day.

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2) Seats & View- 16.5/20

Sight Lines-9/10

The views at Safeco are overall pretty good. The upper level keeps you close to the action without sacrificing too much overhang with the first section. As for the first level, you get a good vantage point. Down the lines, the seats angle in which help to see the action without hurting your neck.

Proximity- 3.5/5

As mentioned, you are close to the field sitting in the upper levels. The park was built so the upper levels angle up but keep you closer and on top of the field. However, the lower level is farther away than most of its peers. It’s the field level so you still have a great seat but other modern parks have a lot less foul room and allows fans to be closer to the game.

Comfort- 4/5

It was a pretty full venue both games I went to and I had no problem either time being squeezed in too tight or not having enough leg room. Comfort gets a thumbs up from me.

3) Atmosphere- 10.5/15

Fan Participation- 4.5/5

The games I went to, it was a pretty loud place. Fans were into the game, yelling and hollering. This shouldn’t be a surprise as Seattle is a strong sports town that supports the Seahawks and Sounders with a passion. In the first game Seattle staged a comeback late in the game and that was among the loudest crowds I’ve heard at a game.

Attendance- 3/5

Both games I went to had a nearly full house. However, I docked points because the M’s do have a history in recent years of poor attendance. I understand it is due to poor team performance, but that’s going to hurt this rating. One thing I will say, is Safeco is a sleeping giant. I could see this place becoming ATT-Lite once the Mariners can put a consistently quality product on the field.

Fan Knowledge- 3/5

The fans here are very passionate, but not the brightest. I noticed there were a lot of “complain about every call” fans, which are the WORST fans. Every ball should be a strike apparently.

4) Attractions- 17/20

Museum & Team History- 9/10

For a team without much success or history at all, they do a great job with the museum. It’s a dual Pacific Northwest/Mariners Hall of Fame which is really cool. They have plaques, videos, and information on players inducted into the Mariners HOF, as well as cool info on different games and moments in Mariners history. At the same time, they detail the history of the sport in the region, from the Tacoma Rainers to teams in British Columbia and Oregon.

Things to See & Do- 8/10

There’s either a lot or a little to see and do depending on your interests. For me, I enjoyed walking around the park.There is the home plate rotunda. There is the museum and HOF. There is the skyline view from the upper level. You can stand right next to the bullpens in the outfield and be five feet from the pitcher warming up. You can warm up to the fire pit beyond the center field seats. So to me, it was cool. The team store was also quite large for those that like to buy team gear.

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5) Food & Drink- 7/10

Hot Dog- 2/5

The Mariner dog was not that good. It reminder me of the Astro dog, just slightly better.

Best of the Rest- 5/5

Outside the hot dogs, there is a lot to love about the park’s food and drink choices. I had a grilled Italian Sausage which was real good. I also had a waffle dipped in chocolate. It was cold which threw me off, but because of the chocolate I wolfed it down. Other choices include Japanese and sushi, as well as soups to get through the cold days early in the season. As for drinks, Safeco is the place for those that love craft brews as they offer a lot of local choices.

6) Game Entertainment & Presentation- 5/5

I thought the Mariners did a very nice job with their entertainment. It kept you amused between innings without overdoing it. They had the kids steal a base promotion which is always a good one because you’re making a kid’s day. Their find the ball in the hat contest was the hardest version I’ve seen- the first time I could not get it right- twice! And playing Louie! Louie! after the 7th inning stretch was great and the crowd all sang in unison.

7) Cleanliness- 4/5

It wasn’t out of the box clean, but it’s a modern park so it wasn’t dirty at all.

8) Local Scene & Location- 4/5

As for the local scene, it is close to the waterfront and downtown so you’re just several minutes from bars and restaurants. Right outside the stadium is a long street with some food vendors who had some fantastic smells arising from the grill.

9) Access & Cost- 4.5/5

From the stadium to the north end of the city, where Key Arena is, is about a 30-40 minute walk which is not bad at all. So if you’re coming from the city, it’s very accessible between foot, bus, and train. Safeco is also right off the highway in case you’re driving from out of town.

Cost of the tickets is overall pretty good. They’re not Yankee Stadium prices, but not the cheapest tickets either. I bought from the team for my behind the plate, row 14 seats for about $70 which I’ll take for that location. As for food and drink prices, Safeco is among the best value for what you’re getting.

10) Misc.+ 2

Statistics- On the video boards there was a strong reliance on stats and some advanced numbers which I love. I also liked how they update a pitcher’s in game totals and season totals throughout the game.

Bullpen- These are the coolest bullpens in the game because of how close access fans have. The bullpens are within shouting distance in most parks, like Progressive or Yankee Stadium. But here you are literally RIGHT THERE.

11) Personal Opinion- 4/5

I very much enjoyed my time in Safeco. Crowds were good, food and drink was overall good, it was an accessible park, and it was a beautiful stadium. It is not in the top tier 5/5 PNC and Wrigley tier of ballparks, but it’s just one step down the ladder which is still pretty darn good.

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Overall Score- 94/115

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