Hey, McC. Hope you guys enjoyed your night at the park! I was at last night's series opener with the Braves. I've been at AT&T Park from time to time since 2000, 20 times total, in fact. I've sat all over the building, from 328, row 16 (luckily that was only once) to 115, row F (unfortunately that was only one) and just about everywhere in between. I've had the privilege of going to four games at the place this year, and now that I've gotten around to it, I wanted to post my opinion on the place just like I did for Safeco over at Lookout Landing.
The game I went to last night was a bit different than my normal routine. I was attending a group event, so we tailgated at one of the party areas. I love tailgating, but with all the restaurants in the area, it's understandable why more people don't do it. Normally, I get in the gates quickly and walk around for a while until I make a decision on food, and then get over to my seat and eat while watching BP. I absolutely love all of the stuff adorning the walls that celebrates the team's history, especially all the different uniforms they've worn over the years.
Normally (excluding last night, when I was in 143), the first thing you see when you head to your seat is the scoreboard. God damn, it's nice. I really like the way they lay out the stats on there. I can't think of a better configuration. The quality of the screen is amazing, and the boards that hang along the facing of the Club Level do a nice job too.
My favorite place to sit is Club Level, but I haven't been able to do that since June 2010 because the prices went way the hell up. View Box is great, and the first five to nine rows of View Reserve from about 322 to 310 are good.
The concessions are top-notch. I was planning on the Cha Cha Bowl, but that'll have to wait since we tailgated. Overall, the amount of choices you have at the concession stands are amazing. The concessions reflect the diversity of the Bay Area while still reminding you that you're at a baseball game.
I'm amazed with how good the angles are from almost every seat (barring a few in the LF corner). I was sitting all the way out in 143, and we had a perfect view of the strike zone and we could see the entire field (except for a couple tiny pockets where the RF wall gets weird). The seating was planned out pretty well when they designed the place.
As for the actual games, it's a bit different at AT&T than at other parks. The entertainment between innings is definitely a lot of unique stuff that you don't find at most parks, some of which is really innovative and funny (having the race out in McCovey Cove), and some of which is ... well ... I don't know how to describe it other than as the Fist Pump Cam. I'm relieved to say I was fist pump-free at 3 of 4 games this year.
As for the quantitative stuff:
Visual: 10/10 The views are simply astonishing, whether it's the stadium itself or its surroundings. I love the design of the ballpark itself. You can spend tons of time just looking at the RF wall and trying to figure out the best way to position an outfielder to play it and all the bounces you can get off of it, or you can watch boats out in the water. Mays Field (that is what you guys call it on this site, right) has some of the best views in the entire major league. The sightlines from almost every seat in the building are great. Other than a few sections way out in the LF corner, just about every seat in the whole building is great. Other than the sections ending in 32-36, there aren't too many places where anyone could mind sitting.
And I'm extremely jealous of your scoreboard. Ours suck.
Staff: 9/10 The staff members working the gates are always welcoming, the chefs and other workers at the concessions treat you well, and they really do a good job to enhance your experience. At times, an usher can be a bit strict, but it's tough trying to deal with a crowd of that size. Additionally, whoever picks the music does a fantastic job. I love when they use Nirvana's "Breed" when they show their Top 5 Highlights, and Another One Bites The Dust is a classic. I also like using "The Distance" when the pitcher comes out to try to finish off a complete game. AT&T has some of the best music in the majors.
Fans: 8/10 OK, OK, I'm admittedly a bit biased here. I've had some very good experiences talking to lifelong fans that really love the sport, but at times you're sitting near someone who decides to hold up a sign in front of your face that says something like "Buster's Favorite Gamer Babe" while screaming in the worst high-pitched voice imaginable and disrupting you in every way imaginable. You also get a ton of people walking in front of you all night long, especially on a weeknight when a lot of people aren't there for all nine innings.
This is a shot of the crowd when Michael Bourn stepped into the box to open up Thursday night's game. That's a lot of empty seats at the start.
There was also a fight about 20 rows below me in the CF bleachers very late in the game, but that's bound to happen when you've got a lot of people in an area where the seating is set up so that it's easy for people to move about, and if those people are inebriated, there are going to be fights from time to time. What surprised me was that it was all Giants fans involved, rather than fans on opposite sides. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most of the people that get in fights aren't real fans, but this category that I'm ranking pertains to all of the people in the stadium. Everyone's gotta share the ballpark. Luckily, the fights are pretty rare, and are usually restricted to the bleachers. Other than that, fans are usually well-behaved. The final rating is an 8 because the fans turn out in large quantities, and a lot of dedicated fans come to the games, but you have the bandwagoners and the late-arriving, early-leaving groups that take away from the experience. Overall, you have a good experience with the fans.
Concessions: 9/10 I can't think of a single professional venue where the food is this good. The garlic fries are the best I've ever had, and the ice cream sundaes are so good that even in 55-degree weather they're a good decision. I'd give the concessions an 11 but the prices are just like the rent. Too damn high. I don't even eat seafood, but I've been at games with people who really enjoy it and they were blown away by the $16 price on the Crazy Crab Sandwich. That's simply ridiculous. They charge a small fortune for a meal, but with that many people showing up at games and food that's so high-quality, they can get away with it.
Extras: 10/10 There is so much to do at the Phone Booth. I remember playing at Little Pac Bell and throwing at the pitching area when I was little, and I still like walking around the ballpark during BP. There's too much to do there in just one trip.
Overall: 9/10 AT&T Park is a state-of-the-art facility. The sightlines are great, the surroundings are fantastic, the staff is friendly, the fan experience is usually pretty good and the concessions are amazing. The only problem is the price. The cost of almost everything at the games, from tickets to concessions, is through the roof (save for tickets on Stubhub for a few weeknights during the school year). Aside from that, this is one of the best facilities in the major leagues and I'm pleased to say I have the privilege of attending games there a couple times a year.
And with that, the Giants are 13-7 at AT&T Park when I've seen them. Bumgarner is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.35 in my presence, and in 3 of the 4 games I went to this year, the starter went into the 9th inning (6/28, 8/14, 8/23).
They should hook me up with free tickets if they want more wins. :P
Thanks a lot, and GO SHARKS!