AT&T Park ( ©RGB Ventures LLC dba SuperStock_Alamy)
With its sweeping views and classic design, AT&T Park is largely considered one of the most beautiful in the country. In 2008, Sports Business Journal called it the best venue in sports. Last year, the Giants set a National League record with their 258th consecutive sellout, and it isn’t just the three recent World Series victories that keep fans coming back. Even if you’re not rooting for the Giants, there’s nothing like baseball in San Francisco.
Built in 2000, AT&T Park is the first privately financed MLB stadium since 1962. Its design is a nod to the past, inspired by the two oldest stadiums in baseball, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. There's the brick exterior; the out-of-town scoreboards from another era (still manually operated by three employees) and the giant, 1927 four-fingered glove in left field. Other attractions include the 80-foot Coke bottle and slide, a center field garden that supplies two in-stadium restaurants and a retired SF cable car. Perhaps the most identifiable feature of AT&T Park is the splash hit. As of 2014, 69 big flies have cleared the right field wall and plunged into McCovey Cove, where fans in kayaks and other vessels sit and wait. If you’re not watching the game from a kayak, you’re probably sitting in one of the stadium’s 41,503 seats. Batters actually stand closer to the front row than they do to the pitcher, while the seats farthest away from the action provide the best views of the surrounding bay, Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco. This is also the most accessible stadium in baseball: Trains from all over the city and the South and East bays converge here; a ferry brings you to the door of the ballpark; and if you're biking, a valet holds your bike for free at the PortWalk near the Lefty O'Doul Bridge.
This recently added venue within the ballpark pays tribute to a time in Giants history when the team was called the Gothams and played in New York. It’s only accessible to players and season ticket holders, but the speakeasy-style social club, complete with a dining room, game room and top-shelf bar, is further testament to the importance of history here.
You can tour the ballpark just about every day and go behind-the-scenes to places usually reserved for players and staff. The field warning track, visitors’ clubhouse, dugout and batting cages are staples of the 1.5-hour tour, and you’ll also swing by the press box and a luxury suite. Ride the Ducks offers the Splash Hit, Splash Down tour, which takes you along the waterfront, into McCovey Cove and inside the stadium.
A Look to the Future
The latest addition to AT&T Park is The Yard, a beer garden from local Anchor Brewing Company and pop-up food and retail village housed in repurposed shipping containers. It’s located in the adjacent parking lot and is meant to be a prototype for the future Mission Rock development—a new 24-acre mixed-use neighborhood that will include a new Anchor brewery, distillery, restaurant and museum. Completion dates are years away, but when it’s ready, the Giants will not only have a stadium, but a whole neighborhood to call home.