I have a goal of watching the Padres play in every N.L. West ballpark. Once I’ve achieved that benchmark, I will likely expand to the entire National League.
Having already seen the Padres play at Petco Park, Dodger Stadium and Chase Field my next stop was Denver, Colorado. If you’ve never been, I’d like to describe what it is like to take in a game in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
First of all, the revitalization that Petco brought to the East Village has not happened in Denver. The ballpark district there looks old and run down. It bears a striking contrast to Petco Park, which made the business in closest proximity resemble a collection of shiny new toys. I can see myself wandering around Petco prior to a game, but in Denver I felt myself waking with purpose toward the safety of the stadium. Parking sucks, also. Its either pay $30 to park in a closed business’ parking lot or park in a structure about a mile away and take a shuttle to the ballgame. Traffic getting out is a nightmare, also. I assume public transit is a better option but I did not make use of the system in Denver.
Once inside, my first impression was that Coors Field is too big. I’m not talking about the actual playing surface, which looks large enough to hold the Summer Olympics. I’m talking about the actual structure, which bears way too much of a resemblance to a football stadium. I counted five levels to the right field seating arrangement. In addition, each level has so many rows that the level above has to be pushed back and away from the playing surface. This is baseball, where we want a close look, not football where we want to see the entire riot all at once.
Impression number two; the scoreboard situation sucks. The first problem is there are two video boards. There is a really small one above a larger, but still inferior, video board. Not only are the boards looking dated in quality but the stadium doesn’t use them properly. During replays they synchronize to show the replay, but this makes it so action on the little screen cuts off some of the play. This is annoying. In addition, Coors Field puts the lineups on the big screen and the player info on the little one. This seems backwards. We don’t need to see the lineups in big, bright colors at all times.
The corridors on the field level are actually quite nice. Upon entering the stadium you, almost immediately, see the field in front of you. In addition, the walkways give you plenty of room to maneuver in both directions. If there is one area where Petco is lacking it is the feeling of being herded like cattle in some of the narrow traffic areas.
Another nice touch can be found above the pedestrians, where the Rockies have signs commemorating important moments in team history including the first hit, first win and first cycle. An argument can be made for taking a tour of the stadium just to see them all.
I love the center field forest. Arizona’s pool is nice but it is only about 13 inches deep and doesn’t really need to be visited during a ball game. In Denver, however, the forest area in center field has real, living trees as well as a waterfall and fountains. I spent multiple innings in the standing room area behind the forest, while watching a game. I can imagine grabbing some food and a few friends and watching an entire game there. This is one of the reasons I am so bummed about the beach going away at Petco. This was a very San Diego answer to a forest or a pool. But I guess alcohol takes precedence over flavor.
In game, it is difficult to find all the information I am used to at Petco Park. Pitch speed, pitch selection and pitch count are not prominent. I eventually found them in the right field stands, but the board is pretty small. They have pitcher and batter stats on video boards on either side of the centerfield stands but they are very difficult to see, so they seem to be a waste of electricity.
The outfield walls aren’t covered in ads, unlike Petco. Seeing this makes me realize just how ridiculous the outfield yellow pages look at Padre home games.
The Rockies play the “Mockingjay” whistle after a strikeout. Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, exactly. Katniss shot arrows and killed people, are you insinuating the Rockies pitcher just shot an arrow past the batter? it’s not like Fernando Rodney is on your team.
I expected to see the Rocky Mountains from my seat, but I guess I was sitting to low, I am told they look amazing from inside the stadium. The sunset was beautiful, however.
The PA system plays the batters’ walkup music with a little too much volume, or maybe I’m just getting old.
Overall, there wasn’t much buzz in the stadium. I have to assume this is due to the Rockies’ poor record. This malaise was still surprising, however, given the Rockies’ penchant for collecting large attendance figures. Of all the stadiums I’ve visited, and I’ve been to plenty, the Rockies fans seemed to care the least. No one even razzed me for wearing my Padre gear, which was disappointing because I was mentally prepared to explain why I love brown and yellow. One usher did try to convince me the Rocky Mountains are better than the Pacific Ocean, which we all know isn’t even close to accurate.
I enjoyed my trip to Coors Field. While not the best park I’ve visited, it is nowhere near the worst. I was mainly struck at how, despite being only 20 years old, the park already seems dated in comparison to some of the newer ball yards in the division. Granted, it does face stiff competition in San Francisco and San Diego, but Coors ranks fourth in the NL West, besting only Dodger Stadium in ballpark experience. I can’t say I am dying to return.