Ultimate ballpark guide: NL West
From its signature swimming pool, available for private parties, to its retractable roof, Chase Field has distinctive features.
The retractable roof and air conditioning give fans a chance to enjoy baseball in the desert heat, but also allow for an open-air experience on the glorious early season days.
There's a sandlot area, where kids can hit at batting cages or play on the wiffle ball field or playground equipment. Kids may also run the bases on the field after Sunday afternoon games.
Fans watch the FOX Sports Arizona pre- and postgame show at the Miller Lite Diamond Club.
The expansion team’s original fans still show up in their purple and teal retro gear. They don't care much for the Dodgers, but they're a pretty laid-back group.
Margarita vendors roam the aisles with frozen mixed-drink machines on their backs.
Music and entertainment
Organist Bobby Freeman has been there since the team’s inception in 1998. Roger Clyne of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers penned the team’s victory song “We Back the D-Backs.”
The Legends Race features giant replicas of Luis Gonzalez, Randy Johnson, Matt Williams and Mark Grace. Grace went the entire first season without a win.
The light rail line stops a block away from the stadium, which allows for more drinking and less driving. Downtown Phoenix’s popular watering holes, Majerle's and Cooperstown (of Alice Cooper fame), are within a couple of blocks.
Visitors might be tempted by an array of world-class resorts, where they can take advantage of cut-rate room prices during the summer. For other outings, Tucson is a nice 90-minute trip for some Hispanic culture and world-class Mexican food, plus the return of Triple-A ball (Padres) this year. Scottsdale has a lot of swank restaurants and night life. To the north, Sedona is less than two hours away, and the Grand Canyon is less than a four-hour drive.
Nearby MLB cities
Not much other baseball nearby once the Cactus League closes up shop, but for the real diehards, the Arizona Rookie League features the greenest of the prospects at spring training parks throughout the Valley, free of change. Consider a southwest ballpark tour, which could include the Houston Astros or Texas Rangers to the east or the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels to the west. A short flight will get you to any of those destinations.
Follow the Diamondbacks at FOXSportsArizona.com.
The Rockpile has become Coors Field's signature seating area. Elevated above the batter’s backdrop, the Rockpile is a semi-circular, 2,300-seat bleacher section in straightaway center field.
Although fans sitting in the Rockpile bear the brunt of any cold and windy weather, they are treated to the best views of Denver’s skyline. Despite the distance from the field, these tickets sell well, thanks in part to their inexpensive price ($4) for children, who are allowed to buy as many as four tickets to cover their parents. For teens and older, the price is higher.
There are no walls on the interior of the walkway around the park, making it possible to make a lap without missing a pitch. The concession stands and bathrooms are all on the outside perimeter.
Fans will be charmed by the manual scoreboard in right field.
The first full generation of Rockies fans is now in the late teens. The fans respond to the team's success and will come for weeknight games as well as weekend. It's why the weeknight games start at 6:40.
The Helton Burger is a favorite, and there are Rocky Mountain Oysters available at section 144. Ask before you eat.
Music and entertainment
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is allowing fans to vote for his walk-up music. It's all recorded, and loud.
There is a play area for kids behind the left-field corner.
The LoDo (Lower Downtown Historic District), used to be seedy but is now filled with bars and restaurants and ties into Larmier Square and 16th Street Mall, creating a great gathering spot for folks to meet for drinks and dinner, go to a game and then have a nightcap. It's a one-stop evening and is just a couple blocks to light rail.
There are multiple hotels in downtown Denver. Thanks to the free bus that rides the 16th Street Mall you can pretty much get to the park without driving. The Rocky Mountains are a great vacation area for everything from horseback riding to cycling to fishing to boating — all in pristine, fresh air. It’s about a six-hour drive to the Black Hills, 90 minutes or less to Vail and 90 miles to Cheyenne to the north.
Nearby MLB cities
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Dodger Stadium is the third-oldest park in the major leagues. Although it does not have the bells and whistles, it has a vintage charm that cannot be captured in a new ballpark. Nestled on a hill above downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium provides spectacular views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the skyscrapers of downtown and is perfect for stargazing, both the celestial type and the Hollywood variety. It boasts one of the most meticulously manicured fields in baseball. It also has baseball’s greatest treasure — Vin Scully, who’s entering his 62nd season
The recent multimillion-dollar Field Level project doubled the number of concession stands and restrooms, welcomed new concession partners and added two new clubs for Baseline Box seat holders, expanded walkways, signage and energy efficient equipment.
LA fans get a bad rap for arriving to games late and leaving early, but they do eventually show up and are deeply appreciative of the franchise’s rich history. Looking to the past eases the pain of not having won a World Series championship in 23 years. More than 125 million fans have visited the 56,000-seat ballpark since it opened in 1962, and some of those folks have been season ticket holders since Dodger Stadium opened. You’re likely to spot at least one celebrity in the crowd on any given night — just gaze toward the pricey seats.
Dodger Stadium’s most familiar culinary offering is the Farmer John's World Famous Dodger Dog — the 10-inch all-pork frankfurter exclusive to the venue for more than 50 years — and grilled to order.
Levy Restaurants creates a Chef Table. Specialty dishes are created utilizing the Farm to Fork program; local produce is used to create the menus in the exclusive dining restaurants, the Dugout Club and the Stadium Club. The choices of food change daily. The All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion in right field is an all-inclusive section that serves hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, soda and water. Beer, candy and ice cream are also available for purchase.
Be sure to buy peanuts on the Loge Level from Roger Owens, who has been a Dodger Stadium vendor for 50 years, during which time he has perfected his unique technique for tossing fans bags of peanuts.
Music and entertainment
Dodger Stadium has one of the cherished old-school ballpark organists in MLB. Southern California native Nancy Bea Hefley joined the Dodgers as the team’s stadium organist in 1988. Like her predecessor, Helen Dell, Hefley played the piano and the accordion as a child. Hefley later played music in Las Vegas casinos and at horse shows. She has amassed a repertoire of more than 2,000 songs and she maintains a spreadsheet of every anthem performer she has accompanied at Dodger Stadium.
The Friday night fireworks are among the best you’ll see anywhere.
Dodger Stadium is in the funky Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Nothing is within walking distance, but if you take a short drive you can dine before or after a game a local establishments like The Shortstop or Taix. You can even get a tattoo at Silver Lake's True Blue Tattoo, where owner (and Dodgers season ticket holder) Landon will give you a discount if you get Dodgers ink.
Venture to nearby downtown LA to visit L.A. Live, a unique entertainment campus that comprises bars, restaurants, shops, a movie theater and world-class sports and entertainment complexes the Nokia Theatre and Staples Center, where NBA's Los Angeles Lakers play. Nearby is the Music Center and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Disney Concert Hall, should you wish to take in live theater or music. Take the free shuttle to Dodger Stadium from Union Station.
The two closest airports are Los Angeles International and Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. There are several hotels in the revitalized downtown LA neighborhood, near the stadium, but you may also choose to stay in nearby beach city of Santa Monica, Glendale, Hollywood or Studio City. While in LA, visit the LA Zoo, the Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios or the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Disneyland is only a 45-minute drive from the heart of Los Angeles.
Nearby MLB cities
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play less than an hour south of Los Angeles, and the division rival San Diego Padres play an additional 1-1/2 hours south of Anaheim. Visitors should consider a West Coast ballpark tour, as you could easily see three games in two to three days, schedules permitting.
Follow the Dodgers at FOXSportsWest.com.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
The entire ballpark was designed and landscaped to be a garden. From behind home plate, the backdrop is of San Diego’s skyline; from the Coronados restaurant and the upper deck looking west, it’s scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Island.
Western Metal Supply Co. Building at PETCO Park offers terrace dining. San Diego Padres
Park at the Park is a landscaped park of 2.8 acres beyond the outfield wall, featuring a video board on the back of the Batter’s Eye, Picnic Hill, Tot Lot playground and children’s wiffle ball field. Fans can purchase $5 (Park passes), bring a picnic and enjoy the game with their family in open seating. Outside of game time, Park at the Park is a community asset that is open to the public.
Western Metal Supply Co. Building, a historic brick warehouse dating to 1909 with ties to the Old West, was renovated and incorporated into the ballpark design, with the left-field foul pole attached to its southeast corner. The building houses the Padres Majestic Team Store, 12 party suites, a public restaurant (Padres Hall of Fame Bar & Grill). There is terrace dining overlooking left field and bleacher seating and event space on the roof.
Expect a strong military presence at games, reflecting the population of San Diego, a military town.
Sony Home Plate Club restaurant is an upscale dining experience for fans with certain premium seats. The dining area looks into the batting cages, where patrons can get an up-close, unique view of players.
Sushi is available at the Japanese restaurant, Westwinds, with terraced seating overlooking left field. Sushi rolls are also offered at FriarFit locations, which offer healthy food options. Gluten-free menu items (including hamburgers, hot dogs and beer) are available.
Breakfast at the Park is a staple before Sunday afternoon games. Selections include breakfast sandwiches, southwestern egg scramble bowl, fresh pastries and a special mix Bloody Mary.
Music and entertainment
Closer Heath Bell, comes in the game to Breaking Benjamin, but most of the musical elements that make Padres games unique involve the area’s military ties: Military Salute Sunday; individual Military Branch Appreciation games; and a salute to members of the military and veterans before the national anthem at every game.
The Padres wear camouflage uniforms at home on Sundays and members of the military taking the field at each position are greeted by players who shake their hands and take their place ahead of the start of the game.
“The Beach” is a sandy children’s play area to the right of the batter’s eye. It is located in front of $10 bleacher seats, known as “The Beachers.” A see-through fence in front of the Beach allows kids and their parents to view a game literally inches from the field.
The famous San Diego Chicken makes cameo appearances, unannounced to fans, at random games throughout the season.
PETCO Park is in the heart of San Diego’s East Village neighborhood, directly adjacent to the historic Gaslamp District. There are a number of neighborhood sports bars and restaurants close to the ballpark, including El Vitral and Proper Pub/Wine Steals, which overlook the Park at the Park. Other popular spots include the Tilted Kilt, Basic Pizza and The Corner.
The nearest airport is Lindbergh Field.
Places to stay include the Hotel Solamar in the Gaslamp District and the Omni Hotel, which is connected to PETCO Park via skybridge.
Local attractions include the beach, SeaWorld, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park, and Seaport Village along the Embarcadero, which is walking distance from PETCO Park. Scenic Coronado Island is just minutes away, via car over the Coronado bridge or water taxi.
Nearby MLB cities
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Los Angeles Dodgers play to the north. It's about a 90-minute drive to Angel Stadium and about 2-1/2 hours to Dodger Stadium. It's a good idea to leave early, however, because traffic on Interstate 5 can always make those travel times increase.
AT&T Park in the China Basin area opened in 2000, becoming the first privately financed ballpark built in more than 30 years. The 41,914-seat facility combines the traditional style and old-time feel of older ballparks with all the modern amenities. The park features the shortest right field in the National League (307 feet), breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and the downtown skyline, the “knot holes” in the right-field wall that allow fans standing along the port walk the ability to watch the game for free, and many other unique amenities.
There are 27,000 season-ticket holders. The Giants welcomed 1 million fans to the 2010 World Series champions parade in San Francisco, and more than 100,000 fans turned out to view the World Series trophy during its more than 50 public stops throughout northern and central California; southern Oregon; western Nevada; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and New York City.
The menu is updated annually and reflects the rich, local flavors and unique offerings of the San Francisco Bay Area, beginning with the California Wine Carts offering a selection of wines associated with the Napa Valley and many other Northern California wine producing areas.
The signature dish and smell of AT&T Park can be found at one of the park’s 10 garlic fries locations. The fries are made with fresh garlic and parsley, which are cut daily, and prepared in oil containing no trans fat.
It would not be baseball without Sheboygan Bratwurst, a favorite at AT&T Park. It is an authentic, Midwest-style bratwurst served on a grilled sourdough roll topped with sauerkraut and onions.
Created with Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, Orlando’s Cha-Cha Bowl is a Puerto Rican-inspired dish featuring black beans, seasoned rice and jerk chicken topped with a pineapple salsa.
Ghirardelli Chocolate, one of San Francisco’s most recognized companies, especially for chocolate and ice cream lovers, features hot fudge sundaes, cokes and root beer floats. It’s located on the View and Club Levels and off the Promenade in O’Doul Plaza.
Music and entertainment
With Steve Perry in the ballpark throughout the season and for all playoff games, "Don’t Stop Believin’" became the rallying song that many would say propelled the Giants to the postseason in 2010. "Dynamite" is another in-game favorite, and, of course, Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” plays after every home victory.
The Giants’ in-game entertainment is reflective of pop culture with a deference to tradition — from Bennett, to the Fist Pump Cam, to eye black, to mascot Lou Seal to Tyler Florence doing an in-park review of food offerings.
There are a number of bars and restaurants around the ballpark, with two on-site and open year round, Public House and Mijita. One is a sports/beer bar serving a pub-type menu (Public House) with the largest selection of beers in San Francisco, and Mijita is an authentic taqueria. Located along the San Francisco Bay, there is a Portwalk that connects to The Embarcadero, featuring many cafes and restaurants along the waterfront.
Fans should fly into San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport. The ballpark is within walking distance of downtown San Francisco and its famed Union Square shopping and hotel district. The ballpark anchors the south end of The Embarcadero, and on the north end is the famous Fisherman’s Wharf area.
Tourists can walk from one end to the other or take one of the street cars.
Nearby MLB cities
The Oakland Athletics play less than an hour from AT&T Park. Ambitious travelers could add a Southern California swing to their trip.