T-Mobile Park is my favorite hangout spot in the city. Go to a Wednesday Mariners game, kick up my heels, sip on an IPA, and watch my favorite professional sport? Don’t mind if I do. And with the new rule changes (e.g. the pitch clock, larger bases), baseball games are about 30 minutes shorter than before, so you don’t feel like you’re giving up your entire day.
Getting There 🚊
📸: Courtesy T-Mobile Park | Sound Transit
Seattle Transit makes it easy to get to every major sports arena/ballpark via some kind of rail. Sure, you could drive and park in the Mariners Garage just across Edgar Martinez Drive or the Lumen Field Garage on S Royal Brougham, but unless you leave before the game is over, you may find yourself trapped in said garages praying that the line of SUVs in front of you will move forward this time around. And after that, you still have to deal with regular Seattle traffic. And… if there’s a Sounders game happening at the same time, forget about it. Honestly, it’s faster (and much cheaper) to travel by rail.
If you’re a mobile person—not all of us are—I suggest taking Link light rail to the Stadium station and walking the rest of the way. Depending on your speed, it’s a 5-to-10-minute walk. Confused as to where to go? Just follow the excited fans as they parade across up and over the train tracks then down a quick flight of stairs; you’ll be deposited at the center field gates where you can either hang a left up the stairs or take a right and enter The ‘Pen (more on The ‘Pen later).
If you feel like pregaming offsite, get off the light rail at the International District/Chinatown station, head to Lumen Field, then keep going along Occidental Avenue South. There, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars, and street vendors serving food and beer cheaper than what’s inside the park. And if you really really want to pregame, get off the light rail at the Pioneer Square station and pub crawl through the neighborhood on your way South to SoDo.
Where to Sit💺
📸: Courtesy T-Mobile Park
Everybody has their preferences. An acquaintance once told me that, in regarding Mariners games, there are three realities:
- If you want the full experience of being “at a ball game,” stick to the Main Level (the first deck).
- If you want to watch a baseball game closely—calling all statistics nerds!—your best bet is the first row of the View Level (the third deck).
- If you want to have drinks with friends while a baseball game also happens, head directly to The ‘Pen, the huge lower-deck bar area in center field along the bullpen where the pitchers warm up. Beer, batch cocktails, and mixed drinks flow in this area, plus Edgar’s Cantina, a standing-room bar that gets crowded real quickly. I will say: People can get a little territorial in The ‘Pen, so make sure you don’t accidentally take somebody’s hard-won spot along the rail.
My three seating preferences:
- 115-119 along the first-base line. The seats in the back of these sections are affordable, usually shaded, and close to the game but far enough away from the loud, truly die-hard M’s fans who will have very strong feelings about every single pitch and hit (a.k.a. the difference between cheering and yelling). Also, the views of the city are excellent.
- The left field bleachers (especially 181-184) are much closer to the action than you think, and the camaraderie is off the charts.
- If you’re not huge into crowds and have extra cash to spare, consider the Club Level (the second deck), which is private, has more comfortable seats, and has way fewer humans aimlessly walking around blocking your path. If you want mixed drinks but don’t feel up to braving The ‘Pen, this is your best bet.
And if you can’t get enough of center fielder Julio Ródriguez and want to be part of the “No Fly Zone,” consider choosing the J-ROD Squad, a general seating, separately ticketed, affordable section out in center field (102-104).
What to Eat 🦀
📸: Courtesy T-Mobile Park
At this point, you should know what general sports arena food is like. Burgers, hot dogs, pretzels, pizza, peanuts, an entire helmet full of nachos, etc., which you can find at most stands. And then there’s local mainstays like Ivar’s and Kidd Valley. The biggest recent addition is the famous West Seattle-based Moto Pizza up in 314. It’s hard to miss the stand; just look for the incredibly long line wrapped around the third deck, but if you brave said line, you will be rewarded for your efforts and be the envy of your fellow seatmates.
What about T-Mobile’s other foodstuffs? Here are a few recs:
- The pork wings at Holy Smoke BBQ (105/313)
- The fries at the Way Back Crab Shack (187), with or without crab
- The luau plate (with choice of kalua pork, miso ginger chicken, and “sexy tofu”) at Marination Station (119)
- The poke bowl at Catch by Just Poke (132), which you can find in the Mariners Marketplace right between Pure Acai and the vegetarian-friendly The Natural
- The shrimp basket at Sound Seafood (249)
As for drinking? Here’s a list of offerings. Go nuts. I like the Stash Panda at the Hop Valley stand in left field, and I’ll never turn down a cold, canned Modelo from the stand underneath the “Edgar’s” sign.
How to Save Money 💵
📸: Courtesy T-Mobile Park
- The center field bleachers are always $10. You will be seated right in front of the Jumbotron, and you might get a lot of direct sunlight, so consider what you need to feel comfortable.
- Come to a Value Game, which are most but not all Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday games. Prices may still fluctuate depending on how good of a section/seat you want, but at base level the tickets are $10 for View and Bleachers, $20 for Main, and $30 for Club.
- Bring your own food and drink in. Inside clear bags only. Make sure to read the official rules (right here), but the short version is they allow small packaged foods, sealed water bottles up to 32 ounces, and one empty, reusable, plastic bottle no greater than 32 ounces. I like to bring my own sunflower seeds and dried seaweed snacks for the back-half of the game.
- Behold the expanded value menu, which includes some standard ballpark fare, plus things like carrots and ranch, hummus and pretzel, apple slices, little ice cream sandwiches that’ll remind you of summer camp, and Uncrustables. Also, value beers!
And don’t forget, go M’s!