The Tacoma Rainiers play in a ballpark that was originally built in 100 days prior to the 1960 season. Fifty years later Cheney Stadium underwent a major renovation and stands as a South Sound staple. The ballpark also affords fans the opportunity to see the highest mountain in Washington state, Mount Rainier.
Arriving at the ballpark
Cheney Stadium is approximately six miles from downtown Tacoma. It is close to the I-5 and Washington State Route 16 interchange, which makes it easy to access from several nearby cities. Parking in an adjoining lot to the stadium costs $5. Pierce Transit Route #2 runs from downtown to 19th Street and South Stevens Street, which is about half a mile from the ballpark. The half-mile walk to the stadium takes about ten minutes. Local one-ride fares are $2 for adults and $1 for youths (ages 6-18; kids 5-and-under ride free with fare-paying passenger). An all-day pass is $5 for adults and $2.50 for youths.
Entering the ballpark
The ticket office is right behind home plate. From the ticket office fans can enter at gates either on the first or third base side. People with tickets to the suites or clubs enter immediately behind home plate where they can access an elevator.
Exploring the ballpark
Cheney Stadiums has a lot of sights worth seeing. Down the right field line is a grass berm with seating and a playground.
Close to the playground are two pieces of history that fans may overlook. First is a light stanchion. A sign on the fence around the tower explains that the lights came from San Francisco’s Seals Stadium, which was torn down in 1959. The lights and some seats made their way north as Cheney Stadium was completed in 100 days, which earned it the moniker as the “100-day wonder.” The other piece of history is the Tacoma Baseball Hall of Fame, which is on a wall by the cider concession stand.
The lineups are near the guest services booth behind home plate. Across the concourse from the lineups is the Esurance Call-Up Worthy plaque, which is near a banner of Gaylord Perry. He played for the Tacoma Giants from 1961 to 1962 before sticking in the Majors with the San Francisco Giants in 1963.
The quirkiest feature is a statue of Ben Cheney, who helped bring Triple-A baseball to Tacoma in 1960, in the front row of Section K. Local artist Paul Michaels designed the bronze statue, which features the subject eating peanuts and wearing a Cheney Studs jacket.
There are a lot of great views at the ballpark, but the best views come from the third base side and left field. On a clear day fans can see Mount Rainier. From the Coors Light Landing people can see the mountain rise above the Rainiers sign on the right field line.
Eating at the ballpark
There are a lot of dining options at a Tacoma Rainiers game. Whether fans want traditional ballpark fare or something more local it can easily be found at the ballpark. Three stands are side-by-side on the first base side offering pizza, burgers and shakes from Kidd Valley, and seafood from Ivar’s.
A BBQ stand and the Sweet Spot portable stand are near home plate. Along the third base side are a chicken stand and sausage shack.
Faced with multiple local options, my wife Katie & I decided to get a pair of items from Ivar’s because seafood isn’t typical ballpark food. We got an order of clam strips and the Ivar’s Dog, which is two pieces of Alaskan cod served on a bed of cole slaw in a hot dog bun. Both were delicious, which we expected given Ivar’s reputation for great seafood.
Drinking at the ballpark
There is no shortage of craft beer, cider, or other alcoholic beverage options at a Tacoma Rainiers game. The main concourse has a portable stand behind home plate with a selection of macrobrews and local craft choices, too. Next to the portable stand is Cafe Elite, which pours coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Cheney Bomber Station on the third base side has 22-ounce bottles for sharing in addition to 16-ounce cans and draft beer. Behind first base the Cider House Rules serves the eponymous beverage plus wine and hard seltzers.
The Fireplace in left field has a party deck reserved for private parties, but also the R Bar. Either is a great spot to enjoy views of Mount Rainier while sipping on a craft brew.
The most exclusive spot for drinks at the ballpark is the KeyBank Summit Club. Fans must purchase a season-ticket package or receive a single-game pass to the club, which also provides access to the 7 Seas Brewing Base Camp Grille on the main concourse.
Regardless of where fans go for a drink, they will find a good selection of local products. Washington-made products include Pike Brewing, Rambling Route Cider, Reuben’s Brews, Schilling Cider, Scuttlebutt Brewing, and more.
Watching the ballgame
The views at the ballpark did not change when the Tacoma Rainiers and City of Tacoma undertook a renovation of the stadium after the 2010 season. Despite the added amenities to the ballpark, the seating bowl did not change. So, fans continue to enjoy unobstructed views from every seat in the park.
After watching a few innings, I took some time to walk around the seating bowl and capture a few photos of the game. Due to the Color Cheney Crimson promotion connected to Washington State University, I did not get any shots of the home team in their traditional white jerseys.
In addition to the Rainiers, I captured a few shots of the visiting Iowa Cubs. Most notably I got to see Adbert Alzolay, the Chicago Cubs No. 5-rated prospect, start the game for the visitors. Although I did not get a good shot of him batting, I also got to watch Trent Giambrone, the Cubs’ No. 28-rated prospect, play as well.
Recapping the fan experience
Even with a nearly sold-out stadium, the Tacoma Rainiers offer a great fan experience. Rarely was there a long wait for food or beverages. The concession stands serve up lots of local food options while maintaining the ballpark staples. Area food institutions allow locals to enjoy some of their favorites at the park while giving visitors an opportunity to sample some of the region’s best restaurants. The list of local craft beers and ciders should satisfy even the pickiest beer snob. The ballpark views, especially of Mount Rainier, set Cheney Stadium apart from other Minor League stadiums. Although you may not get a Rainier beer at a Tacoma Rainiers game, any fan should leave the park with a satisfied feeling from great food, good beer, and stellar views.
Final: Iowa 11, Tacoma 7