Sunday, June 21, 2009

Justin's Review: Coors Field

Ballpark Design:  Coors Field opened in 1995, towards the beginning of the recent stadium building craze, and it’s opening date is very much reflected in the design of the ballpark.  For the most part, it is a very modern and comfortable stadium, with an open concourse on the lower level, a second deck club level, a large scoreboard, and a beautifully designed garden with fountains right over the center field wall.  However, while the park lives up to many of the standards set by other new ballparks, it isn’t quite unique enough to really be considered an interesting ballpark.  Certainly, there are some features that link it well to the city it’s located in – most notably, the mountains visible in the distance behind the field and the row of purple seats in the upper deck marking where the elevation is exactly one mile  - but much of the park feels very generic.  The seating bowl itself is uninteresting, and the one noteworthy feature, the gigantic section of bleachers located high above deep center field, is an eyesore.  Overall, it is a pleasant park, but it doesn’t clearly differentiate itself from the many other ballparks built in the past 20 years. B-

Scoreboard/Soundtrack: The primary scoreboard in left field is made up of two large video screens, which together give plenty of information about everything happening in the game.  Like a few other stadiums (but not most), it includes the pitcher’s year to date stats throughout the game, rather than just showing it at the beginning of the game or when a pitching change is made.  Ribbon boards along the railing of the second deck act as auxiliary scoreboards, and the out of town scoreboard was a large manual board located in the right field wall.  It only showed innings and scores, but the design of it looked great and was one of the few things to really add some character to the park. B+

Food/Drink: Foods stands were located throughout the ballpark and offered a good deal of variety, if not a huge amount.  There was a bar/restaurant located in right field in the lower concourse, although it did not have views of the field.  Due to a large dinner at a nearby restaurant before the game, neither Mike nor I had much to eat, although I did have a relatively good $1 hot dog using a coupon they gave us.  B

Fans:  It wasn’t a very impressive crowd, but it was decent sized for a Tuesday night game.  The fans were more in to the game then in some recent stadiums we’ve been to, but there wasn’t a lot of energy, particularly after Tampa took a big lead.  In general, the crowd felt much younger than many of the other crowds we’ve seen recently – a lot more college students and kids then in Phoenix, Houston, etc.  It definitely made for a bit of a different environment, and I suspect that with a closer game, it would have been one of the better crowds that we’ve seen. B-

City/Stadium Neighborhood:  We spent the afternoon getting lunch at a nearby restaurant/brewery, and then spent a little while before the game walking around the Lower Downtown (LoDo) neighborhood near the ballpark.  I really liked what we saw of Denver – the downtown was very walkable and lively, with dozens of restaurants and bars around and people everywhere.  After visiting a few cities with less active downtowns, it was a nice change of pace, and reminded me of east coast cities in many ways.  I’d love to go back and explore the city a bit more (and who wouldn’t love a city that close to so many ski slopes?).  The ballpark, located right in an interesting part of downtown, was one of the best yet in terms of neighborhood. City: B+; Neighborhood: A-

Game: The Rays definitely liked playing in Coors Field.  They hit five homeruns as a team, and scored 12 runs to crush the Rockies, 12-4.  Neither starting pitcher was impressive, but Jeff Niemann was just serviceable enough to get the win.  It obviously wasn’t a particularly interesting game, although watching the Rays take advantage of Coors’ thin air was enjoyable. C

Overall Experience: Coors Field is a nice place to watch a baseball game, if not a particularly unique or special place.  Being located downtown adds major points to the experience of going to a game there, simply because of the atmosphere around the stadium before and after the game.  Overall, there is little to not like at the stadium, but also not quite enough to love. B 

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