Critical Critic Criticizes Safeco Field

This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. What a dweeb.

You may remember a few months ago when I posted this article about a review that some dude (me) did on Safeco Field. Well, after more than half a year, the website that the review was written for — StadiumJourney.com — is now up and running. You can also find them in the links section of the site over on the lefthand sidebar.

To briefly explain my stance on the review (which was written back in August, by the way), I tried to be critical of the things that most Seattle sports fans are critical of when it comes to Safeco, and likewise tried to embrace the things we tend to embrace.

My harshest grade was handed down in the “Access” portion of the review, but that has less to do with the actual stadium than it does the city of Seattle. This was my way of telling local government that our public transportation sucks. Which it does. In addition, because most of the parking lots around the stadium are independently owned, finding a place for one’s car can be difficult and costly at times for those who aren’t keenly familiar with the area. (Plus, I secretly hoped that by taking a swing at the transportation and parking issue we might be able to lower our costs to get to a game. Just a thought.)

I also gave critical marks in the “Fans” segment, citing the stadium’s extreme crowd control and the fans’ lackluster interest level as reasons for the grade. We all know the Mariners have done everything in their power to turn Safeco Field into the kid-friendliest public venue this side of Disneyland. Furthermore, we similarly know that many of the fans themselves tend to be quiet, polite students of the game who would rather sip their beverages than cheer for the home team. Hence, with an organization trying to quiet the rowdy behavior of anyone over age 12 AND with most young and middle-aged adults accustomed to being reprimanded by the ushers and those fans around them at the first instance of noise, we have a chicken-and-egg scenario that creates a library atmosphere at a sporting event. Ugh.

Beyond that, I more or less went homer central on the rest of the review. My only gripes were standard fare (food and beverage prices, for one), and I gave high marks for the appeal of the venue, the beauty of the natural landscape, and the quality of the local eateries in the surrounding neighborhood which cater to sports fans.

Check out the review for yourself over at Stadium Journey. The guys behind the journey have put in tons of work to get their website off the ground, and it’s a tremendous resource for those of you who plan on checking out other ballparks or arenas across the country.

One thought on “Critical Critic Criticizes Safeco Field”

  1. Comment from the times article by Don O Van:

    Well, this is really a philosophical argument, therefore unwinable. One school of thought is that there is therefore no point in arguing. Me, I enjoy the arguing, but I’m not going to pretend that my personal perspective is more valid than anybody else’s. Your mileage may vary.

    So with that disclaimer – here’s the problem I see. For some, “family” entertainment means that all ages are catered to. I think of baseball this way. Adults can sip their microbrews (at single malt scotch prices) and kids can get their picture taken with the Moose. Everybody can get into supporting the team, which means unleashing some passion. It isn’t a damn library or opera house. Kids are just adults in training after all, they aren’t a different species. An alternative notion of family entertainment is to create an idealized kid-centric environment where everything is warm and fuzzy and there is no conflict. Adults are allowed to come along for the ride, so long as they behave like good kids. That’s what I think has happened at Safeco Field – the Disneyfication of baseball. Creating an environment completely devoid of anything that anyone might possibly find offensive (and in this community that’s a very long list) has become more important than optimizing the environment for fans to support the team. This is very different from other pro sports venues in this city or other MLB venues I’ve been to. As an adult without kids, I’m there for the game first, not the family outing. I have nothing but respect for parents, and I wouldn’t dare tell someone how to raise their kids, but there are many different views on what constitutes an unhealthy influence. One person’s reasonable situation is another person’s outrage is another person’s overprotection. The M’s are taking a pretty extreme view on that call, it seems to me. As a kid growing up, I saw some pretty bad behavior at college sporting events (no pro sports in my small town), but I don’t recall being damaged by it or wanting to imitate it. I’ve very respectful of others. I don’t yell profanity. I don’t get drunk at the game (at nearly $9 a beer, who could afford to?). I’m there to have fun, not to offend or insult. Yet I’ve been shushed many times at Safeco – once by a guy who couldn’t hear his cell phone call. Last year, I saw three guys in their 20s get thrown out of a game because they were standing during the ninth inning, cheering the M’s to victory. They weren’t drunk or even rowdy, but they were young adults and the guy behind them who complained was old. That was enough for the usher. Safeco field is operated as a tightly controlled haven for young kids and geriatrics. Everybody else is tolerated, but expected to tone it down. That’s always been my experience at Safeco. That factor, along with the high proportion of casual fans who come late, spend most of the game staring at their smart phone to see where their friends are, then leave early, often detract from an otherwise great baseball venue.

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