In the days of corporate naming rights, ballpark names come and go. Whether you still call the Seattle Mariners home ballpark Safeco Field or whether you’ve adapted to calling it T-Mobile Park, the team has played its home games at the same stadium since 1999. Areas of the ballpark have been remodeled or renovated since its opening, but overall the park has remained the same.
Arriving at the ballpark
There are multiple parking garages and privately-operated parking lots near T-Mobile Park. Prices at the garages and lots vary typically depending on proximity to the ballpark. Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail line offers service via the Stadium Station, which is about half a mile away. It is a 9-minute ride from Westlake Station in downtown to Stadium Station. A one-way adult (age 19-64) fare is $2.25-$3.25 depending upon the distance traveled. A day pass is twice the cost of a one-way fare, but is only valid between the stations on the ticket. One-way youth fares (age 6-18) are $1.50 and children under 5 years-old can ride for free with a fare-paying passenger.
Entering the ballpark
There are six entrances to T-Mobile Park, which one fans should use depends upon how they arrive at the stadium. The center field and ‘Pen gates are the closest to the Central Link light rail station. However, walking around to the home plate entrance provides fans an opportunity to see banners on the exterior of the stadium.
The home plate gate is the ballpark’s iconic entrance.
Since 2017, a statue of Ken Griffey, Jr. has stood outside the home plate gate. The 7-foot statue depicts Griffey wearing a 1997 uniform, when he won the American League MVP, following through on his legendary homerun swing.
Exploring the ballpark: Main Concourse
As with any Major League stadium, there is a lot to see at T-Mobile Park. Most sights are on the Main Concourse with two visible upon entering the ballpark at the home plate gate. “The Tempest,” which is a collective piece of art, consists of two elements. The first is a sculpture of resin bats hanging from the ceiling in the home plate rotunda and the other is a large compass rose at the top of the grand staircase immediately behind home plate.
There are multiple pieces of art through T-Mobile Park (see complete list). One of the more interesting pieces is in the outfield where the Seattle Children’s Hospital Wishing Well stands outside of the children’s playground.
Another favorite location for kids, and adults who love mascots, is The Moose Den. At Section 191, fans can have their photo taken with Mariner Moose from 90 to 30 minutes before first pitch and during the second, third, seventh, and eighth innings. Of course, my wife Katie & I stopped to get our photo taken with the legendary mascot.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum partnered with fifteen Major League Baseball teams to display a replica of Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit. Fans are able to scan the suits to learn more about the mission (read more here).
Exploring the ballpark: Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame and Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest
Fans seeking to learn about the history of the Seattle Mariners and baseball in the Pacific Northwest will find both across from Sections 135-141. The Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame shares space with the Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest. The hall opened in 1997, two years prior to T-Mobile Park, to tell the story of the Mariners franchise by honoring its players, staff, and other individuals. The Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest details the history of baseball in the region stretching from Montana to Alaska. In addition to displays about the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers, there are hands-on exhibits designed for children like the “Tools of the Trade.”
Eating at the ballpark
Eating at a Major League stadium is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there are usually tons of options no matter where you are sitting for the game. It’s also a curse because the overload of options can make it difficult to settle upon something to eat. However, whether fans want the typical ballpark fare or something unique and local they will find both options at a Seattle Mariners game (see the top eats list).
The ‘Pen in center field is the best spot for fans seeking local options. Local restaurants like Ballard Pizza, Li’l Woody’s, Paseo, and others have stands in The ‘Pen. I chose the Big Woody burger, which is a quarter-pound patty with Hill’s bacon, Tillamook cheddar, chopped onions, diced pickles, tomato slices, and lettuce topped with ketchup and mayonnaise.
The marquee location in The ‘Pen is Edgar’s Cantina. Fans can buy food from the stand or eat and drink at the facility, which includes a patio and a homerun deck above the restaurant.
Outside of The ‘Pen fans can get seafood from Ivar’s, burgers from Kidd Valley and other stands, garlic fries from Grounders, or a Grand Salami at The Sultan of Sandwiches. Fans seeking to save money should check the Mariners Deal of the Day, which changes each game. For example, a slice of pizza was $4 at all High Cheese locations when I visited.
Drinking at the ballpark
There is no shortage of places serving alcohol at a Seattle Mariners game. However, fans seeking specific brews can use the team’s beer finder to locate their preferred beer. Beer drinkers seeking a discount will find 12-ounce cans of Miller High Life and Busch Light for $5 at designated stands. Select stands carry Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA and Reuben’s Brews Crikey IPA in 12-ounce cans for $6 Additionally, The ‘Pen offers $7 draft beers from its opening (two-and-a-half hours before first pitch) until one hour before the game begins.
The ‘Pen also has two full-service bars, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Heritage Distilling Company. Wine is available throughout the ballpark, but the premier destination is The First Base Vine near Section 126. The selection changes regularly, but features bottles from the Pacific Northwest. There are plenty of Washington-brewed beers at the ballpark, but Springfield, Ore.,-based Hop Valley Brewing has a stand along the third base line. As if there are not enough options, there is a cask ale stand near Section 130.
Watching the ballgame
The sight lines at T-Mobile Park are phenomenal, but expected given its age. In 2018, the team extended the protective netting to the end of the dugouts at the height of 11 feet. So, fans with seats on the Main Concourse wishing to capture unobstructed photographs of the game need to walk past the end of the dugouts. Fans on the club, suites, or view level have mostly unobstructed views, but are farther from the action. After watching a few innings, I walked around the concourse to capture a few photos of the game.
Early in the game, I got a few shots of the Mariners in their home whites.
I also captured a few pictures of the visiting San Diego Padres in their road greys.
The ballpark features a manual scoreboard in left field near the digital out-of-town scoreboard. Hanging near the out-of-town scoreboard are the three numbers retired by the Seattle Mariners: Jackie Robinson (No. 42), Ken Griffey, Jr. (No. 24), and Edgar Martínez (No. 11). The videoboard in center field is 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide, which is equivalent to 2,182 42-inch flat screen TVs. In 2013, it was the largest video display scoreboard in Major League Baseball.
Recapping the fan experience
Whether you like the name change of the stadium or not, the Seattle Mariners play at a beautiful ballpark. The concourses are wide with ample space to check out the concession stands and sights along the way. There are several local food options, although they are heavily concentrated in The ‘Pen. Alcohol options abound whether fans seek discounted macrobrews, local craft beer, wine, or spirits. A daily food deal allows fans to save money at the park, too. Additionally, on a clear day fans get views of downtown Seattle and the ability to stay dry on rainy days thanks to a retractable roof. Overall, the Seattle Mariners provide a locally-focused experience that allows hometown and visiting fans the opportunity to indulge in local fare or stick to their ballpark favorites.
Final: San Diego 9, Seattle 4