Pacific Bell Park opened in 2000 to rave reviews as one architectural marvel and one of MLB's great new
shrines to baseball. Hard to quarrel with the local folk about their enthusiasm after years at Candlestick, a
large hulk of a ballpark with awful sightlines and cold, windy clammy weather not conducive to baseball. (The
climate here in the Bay Area is referred to as "micro climate". Travel 10 miles in any direction and the
temperature and weather change markedly. One of the reasons for the location of this ballpark is the chance
for better baseball temperatures).
The stadium is located on the fringes of downtown, with the spectacular world class San Francisco skyline
just off in the distance and the Bay Bridge to Oakland just beyond left field. The stadium abuts the China
Basin entrance to the Bay, now aptly renamed "McCovey Cove" in honor fan favorite 1st baseman Willie
Getting to the ballpark--
The Giants offer more ways to get to the ballpark than any other team we've seen. Ample parking is available
on surface lots around the stadium, prices starting at $25 and going down from there depending on the
distance you wish to walk. The public transportation options are numerous - the regional rapid transit
system, BART, takes you into downtown and then you grab the shuttle... or there is the local MUNI rail
system... bus service... a marina right next door if you want to come over with your boat, and the coolest way
to go to the ballpark is by ferry boat - departing from Sausalito, Napa/Solano or the Wharf and depositing you
right behind the ballpark.
Once you get here, you will immediately be impressed with the stunning architectural beauty of this place.
The red brick facades, the wrought iron fences,(wait haven't we seen all this before!?) all beautifully
landscaped and surrounded by palm trees. At night the trees are floodlit.
From home plate you are immediately impressed by the statue of the great Willie Mays, and in fact the street
in front is named "Willie Mays Plaza" and the official address of Pac Bell Park is "24".
Take a walk around the park and you fall more and more in love with this place. An upscale restaurant
named "24" complete with outdoor patios overlooks the home plate entrance, and the main team store, the
Giants Dugout Store, sits next door to the restaurant. With two levels of merchandise, one can enter the
ballpark right from the store. Along the right field side is a terrific promenade with a great view of the bay. At
centerfield is an entrance serving the boat docks and an area named "Seals Plaza", celebrating the city's
long and storied history in baseball in the Pacific Coast League. (We learned that Joe DiMaggio actually had
a 61 game hitting streak with the San Francisco Seals in the PCL). Lastly, along side the left field wall is a
beautiful marina with long piers that jut out into the bay.. great for fishing, people watching or getting that
great photo op.
The ballpark neighborhood is a work in progress, with a few nightspots nearby and more to open. Lofts and
condos under construction, don't even ask what it costs to buy one of these places. Downtown San
Francisco, with its world class stature, its urban energy, eclectic neighborhoods and great attractions,
beckons in the distance.
The stadium is divided into the traditional three concourse configuration, and the entire main concourse
sports a view of the field. We found the 100 level concourse to be somewhat dark and narrow, unusual for a
newer venue. Along the outfield is a small outfield porch along right field, and a larger formal bleacher
section along left field. One of the city's storied cable cars, pulled from service, can be found along the
outfield concourse just below the scoreboard.
The upper level concourse is open air, and from here you can enjoy the nicest views of the skyline. Access to
the upper deck is easy with escalators behind home plate to get you upstairs in a hurry.
There are over 60 suites running from foul pole to foul pole, all served by their own concourse. The 200 club
level is climate enclosed, with bars and concession stands throughout and in seat waiter service available.
One of the coolest areas on this level was the area behind home plate - great Giants memorabilia and
exhibits going back to the Polo Grounds.
The seating bowl
Seating is laid out into three separate levels with kelly green seats (wait haven't we seen all this before?!). At
centerfield is a huge scoreboard and companion dot matrix board. Along right field is "Splash Landing", with
four fountains shooting a light spray each time the Giants hit a home run, and Mc Covey Cove just beyond. As
of our visit 12 Giants home runs have made it into the water, and there is a board to keep count. Besides the
hand operated scoreboard, a separate board tracks Barry Bonds's career home runs and the three players
who he is chasing.
Beyond left field is the "Coca Cola Fan Lot", with a giant sculpture of a players mit and a coke bottle. What we
didn't know was that inside the coke bottle are four slides for the kids to enjoy. While we have seen these
interactive play parks elsewhere, what impressed us the most was "Little Giants Park", a replica mini
ballpark where youngsters can run the bases and hit a ball, all while appearing on their own mini jumbotron.
Along ground level at right field is this ballpark's version of "the Knot Hole Gang", where fans on the street
can view the field and watch the game for no charge.
The "Garlic Fries" are the special food item you have to enjoy while here. We learned that most of the garlic
grown for consumption in the U.S. is found within 100 miles of the Bay Area. No free "Mentos" though! Many
of the chicken sandwiches and grilled burgers are served on famous sourdough bread. Before the game we
joked that one can find fried calamari here, but no chicken wings. So boy were we surprised to see "Buffalo
Wings" on the menu at a centerfield stand, complete with Frank and Theresa's famed sauce. A slice of Main
Street in Buffalo right here at Pac Bell! As with many of the newer venues, a great deal of thought given to food
selection and variety. Oh... and the basic hot dog here blows away the "Dodger Dog" ... sorry L.A.!
Come here hungry! You won't be disappointed.
The flags bearing the pennants and championships of the Giants, both in New York and San Francisco, fly
high above the centerfield scoreboard. Along the balcony near the left field foul pole hang the numbers of
Giants icons - Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell (New York) and from their
era in San Francisco... Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda.
"People will come Ray... For reasons they can't even fathom...they'll walk out to the bleachers and sit in
shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon..."-W.P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams"
"Franca throws...There's a long fly...It's gonna be... I believe...The Giants win the Pennant!... The Giants win
the Pennant!...The Giants win the Pennant!"-Russ Hodges dramatic call of the Shot heard Round the World.
These are just two of many great baseball quotes which adorn the walls in tasteful displays all over this park.
What a marvelous job the Giants do in celebrating the glory that is baseball and their franchise's storied past.
The Giants present their heritage not only in their days in San Francisco, but in New York as well...Memories
from their great days in New York... Photos of their last game at the Polo Grounds, the sad departure from
New York, their jubilant parade welcoming them to San Francisco, Candlestick Park, all shown tastefully and
pragmatically, presenting their history as it should be.
Opening - To open the game, a youngster seated on the cable car in the outfield clangs the bell to formally
start the event, and this is shown on the jumbotron. A cool and unique San Francisco touch!
Must visit - At the corner of 16th and Bryant, about a mile away from the ballpark, is the hallowed grounds of
the old Seals Stadium. Long since demolished, but right across the street is a tavern called "Double Play",
with floor to ceiling memorabilia of the Seals, the PCL, and San Francisco baseball history. You just gotta
see this place!
We wish to than Alfonso Felder, Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of the San Francisco Giants, for
furnishing photo credentials and offering us an interview and a terrific ballpark tour. Alfie is inducted into the
Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of Fame so congratulations to him. A tip of the hat to the many ushers, field
security and other ballpark personnel who we spoke to and who gave us a warm welcome and lots of
We walked into this venue with high expectations. Would this place meet those lofty goals and earn the
coveted 5 star rating? We viewed the standard HOK architecture.. the red brick facade, the iron gates, the
green seats, which we have seen in several other cities. Was there something that would set this place apart
and beyond its peer facilities at Safeco, Coors, the Jake, and Camden? When all was said and done, that
answer was "absolutely". The setting by the bay, all the amenities, a world class city... Pacific Bell Park is a
great ballpark, a must see, and a place we would love to visit again.
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 7
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 7
Concourses/fan comfort 8
Bonus: USRT Assist 2; Knothole viewing area 1, McCovey Cove 2; quotes all over the building 1
July 6 and 7,