Safeco Field 2013

June 28, 2013 - Seattle, Washington, United States

It’s been 2 years since we’ve visited a ballpark so I’m so excited to add another ballpark to our “Touching All the Bases” adventure!

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Closer! Closer! CLOSER! Seeing Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, began from the air as we landed in Seattle.  Next we gazed out of the Space Needle downtown from 520 feet high and spotted Safeco and Century Link Field, which is right next door. Then we sighted the Field from the Link Light Rail as we arrived at the Stadium stop.  From all these angles, Safeco Field was distinctively impressive. It was all about the roof!

Approaching Safeco Field on foot was when we got a bird’s eye view of the retractable roof. There's a lot of steel in that roof--enough to build a 55-story building. A ballpark usher pointed out that it really wasn't a roof; it was an umbrella, because the sides are left open when the roof is covering the field.

As is my custom, we started our visit to Safeco Field with a walk around the exterior. This was the beginning of a baseball-inspired art gallery tour that continued throughout the park and topped all other MLB parks from an "artistic" standpoint. Let me tell you about a few of my favorites.

Batter's Fence consisted of a number of artworks on steel gates and fences all the way around the exterior of the ballpark. In Right Field, there were five life-size cut outs of catchers in various poses.  Along Royal Brougham Way, there were eight stainless steel cutout figures of pitchers captured in various points of the wind-up and release. And above the Left Field gate there were ten life-size steel cutouts of nine player positions plus the batter.  And these were just the beginning!

The Mitt, a nine-foot tall bronze sculpture of a catcher's mitt (or old-fashioned baseball glove) provided the perfect backdrop for the Safeco Field photo. It’s also a great place to meet outside the park.  Fans can lean on, crawl through or capture the distinctive photo memory at this iconic landmark.

Upon entering the park at the Home Plate Gate, there is a dramatic sculpture of 1,000 white translucent bats hanging from the ceiling, like a chandelier.  The way they are arranged gives you the feeling of a batter swinging the bat, thus the name of the sculpture, The Tempest.  I would name it "Batting a 1000" but they didn't ask me!!

Being a quilter, I was especially fond of Baseball Quilts, three large "quilts" made from pieces of found metal stitched together with red wire.  Pieces of pop cans and other metal containers create the logos of the 30 MLB teams, which are sewn onto the respective states or Canadian province license plates.  These logos then form three quilts:  (1) American League (2) National League (3) Pacific Northwest historical teams.  I LOVED IT!

There were eleven different art exhibits throughout the park that make up "Art in the Park."  It would take several trips to the park to truly enjoy and appreciate all the artwork so I guess we'll have to return someday!!

Once inside the gate, walking the three concourse levels gave us a real sense that Safeco Field was a fan-friendly park. And fans love good food! There were numerous concessions representing local restaurants and cuisines as well as several fan-gathering areas. One of the best was "The Pen," created in 2011 when the bullpens were renovated. It’s where fans can gather 2-1/2 hours before game time to enjoy local craft beers, internationally inspired concessions, a cozy fire and an un-obscured view of the playing field.  It was packed the entire game!

The Children’s Playfield area was a great place for kids to let off a lot of their energy. Young children and men stood in line to test their pitching speed while families visited Moose Den, a place to meet Mariner Moose, the team's mascot, and have their photo taken with him. I was fortunate to be the last person in line to get my photo with Moose. I did have to “sweet talk” the attendant however who wanted me to come back after the second inning. I told him “I keep score so I can’t leave the stands.” That was the TRUTH and it worked!!

The Mariners Hall of Fame is located in a small hallway.  Each of the six honorees is honored with a life size pose, and a plaque. Large TV/monitors hanging beside each player were not operating so I’m sure there was interesting video and information about each of the inductees. Again, I guess we’ll have to come back! Inductees include players Alvin Davis, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson as well as famed announcer, Dave Niehaus.  (This August Ken Griffey, Jr. will be inducted.)

Announcers have a special place in my heart and Dave Niehaus has a very special place in the hearts of Mariner fans. Dave was known as the Voice of the Mariners. He announced for over 30 years beginning with the first Mariner game in 1977. He’s also honored with a statute in right center field that depicts him sitting at his announcer’s desk with a scorebook (with Dave’s actual notes from the game) open to the historic Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Yankees. As I was waiting in line at the statute for a picture, a couple was having their photo taken. Each was sitting beside Dave at his desk waving a ticket in their hand. When they finished, they placed their tickets in the scorebook. The usher, who was taking their picture, advised them they had left their tickets behind. But the couple responded, “those are our tickets from Game 5 and we want to leave them there.” The usher and I just looked at each other. We were absolutely stunned! After that, it was time to go find my seat! I needed to sit down!

The first view of the field from home plate is always an exciting moment for me. Two things immediately caught my eyes: the view of Century Link Football Stadium with the Seattle downtown skyline above it and the massive scoreboard.

Safeco now has the LARGEST scoreboard in MLB. Over the past offseason, this new HD video display system measuring 1125 sq. ft was installed in centerfield.   One of the effects I especially enjoyed was their use of black and white photography of the players.

Other changes were made to the park during offseason. Portions of the outfield fences were moved to create a “fair” environment for both pitchers and hitters.  Since 1999 when the park opened, Safeco had ranked among those parks with the lowest number of homeruns. Based on the analysis, it was expected that the number of total home runs for 2013 would rank in the middle of the 30 MLB parks. The statistics three months into the season are bearing this out. During the game, fans experienced the results of these changes --three homeruns!

Ironically, Safeco does not have a distinctive display when their player hits a homerun like in other parks. They have a beautiful bronze fountain featuring a young batter located in the Children’s Playfield area that spouts water when a Mariner hits a homerun. Problem is fans can’t see it from their seats. Or least I couldn’t see it! Now that the Mariners will be hitting more homeruns, they’ll have to create something exciting.

Safeco Field was as impressive as its roof. It’s a very good ballpark, not the best, but I ALWAYS love exploring the parks and discovering their unique qualities.

And what a treat! The Mariners beat the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th inning. There’s nothing more exciting than being at a park when the home team wins in extra innings!!

 

NOTE:  MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SOME THE PHOTOS CONTAINED IN THE DESCRIPTION.


Pictures

Mariners Win
Box Summary
Bottom of the 10th, bases loaded
Traditional concession - Peanuts & Crackerjacks!
 
 

3 Comments

Dorothy Semon:
July 9, 2013
I am so glad you are back on track. It is wonderful to read your stories. I feel as if I am there in person.
Shirley Rogers:
July 9, 2013
Another great article.Love your detailed descriptions,just makes me want see it.
Mad Max:
July 11, 2013
We're happy to know y'all are still in the game! Ken, I know you think you look good in yellow, but LOSE that shirt. Or is that Tennessee's colors???
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