One of most fun events that you might enjoy while you are in San Francisco is a Giants baseball game at AT&T Park. After winning the World Series in 2010 and then again in 2012, the Giants have become one of the hottest teams in baseball. Not only are they a great team to watch; you simply can’t beat the pleasures of this stadium located right on the water. From the way home run balls get caught by boaters in the bay to special events that feature fireworks and music, AT&T Ballpark is unlike any other baseball stadium that you’ve ever been to. This guide will help you understand the ballpark, the Giants and the best way to enjoy a game day.
History of AT&T Ballpark and San Francisco Giants
AT&T Ballpark was the first privately financed ballpark in Major League Baseball since 1962. It is an open-air baseball park that was first opened in 2000 under the name Pacific Bell Park. The name was changed to SBC Park and then finally became AT&T Ballpark in 2006. Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily named AT&T Ballpark the 2008 Sports Facility of the Year in their inaugural year of the Sports Business Awards program.
As for the San Francisco Giants, they are a major league baseball team originally form New York that moved here to the city in the late 1950s. Over the years they have won nearly two dozen National League Pennants and been in the World Series 19 times, both of which are record-breaking numbers. Five of those pennants and two World Series wins have been since they moved here to San Francisco. The team played at Candlestick Park until 2000 when it moved to AT&T Ballpark.
Getting to AT&T Ballpark
The park is located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at the corner of 3rd Street and King Street. This is in the SoMA/ South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, an up-and-coming neighborhood filled with unique dining, nightlife and shopping options. The ballpark is located right on the water of the San Francisco Bay. In fact, there are people sitting in boats in the water at every game and they compete to catch the home run balls that fly over the wall and into the water.
It is not recommended that you drive to the ballpark. Parking in the area is difficult and expensive. It is much better to take public transportation. Your options include: include:
Take BART. Get off at the Embarcadero station and walk south along the water until you reach the ballpark. This is a top option.
Take the T. That’s the MUNI streetcar that drops you off right in front of the ballpark.
Take the bus. MUNI bus lines 10, 30, 45 and 47 all stop within walking distance of the ballpark.
Come on Caltrain. If you are coming in from outside of the city, such as near San Jose, then you will likely come on Caltrain, which drops you off just a short walk from the ballpark.
Bike. The ballpark has a secure bicycle parking facility on site that opens two hours before every game and closes half an hour after the game ends.
Taxis. It is possible to find taxis to and from the game. Cabs in San Francisco are safe and can be hailed on the street. However, delays due to traffic around the ballpark can make this an expensive option.
Note that public transportation is very busy and crowded on game days. Although buses and streetcars run frequently to accommodate the traffic, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get there. In fact, you may want to just plan to spend the entire day in the neighborhood, enjoying the area’s activities before the game.
Before the Game
AT&T Ballpark is located in a beautiful and growing part of San Francisco. Take advantage of the time before the game starts to check out some of the things in the neighborhood, which include:
Walk along the water. If it’s a nice day out you could take a terrific long walk along the Embarcadero all the way from the Ferry Building to the ballpark.
Catch a matinee. The Metreon movie theater and the movie theater at The Westfield Mall are both within a fairly short walking distance from the ballpark so if you’re going to an evening game you could easily see a movie first.
Visit a museum. SFMoMA, The Cartoon Art Museum, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art and The Contemporary Jewish Museum are just a few of the museums that are located close to the Giants stadium.
Family activities at Yerba Buena. Bowling, ice skating and a merry-go-round offer a few things to do with the kids before the game.
Take a walking tour. SF City Guides offers at least ten different free public walking tours in this neighborhood. It’s the best way to see some sights and get to know the history of the area before the game!
Many people choose to eat before or after the game instead of at the stadium due to the high cost of food inside the ballpark. This is also a really great way to get started on your day. Be aware that crowds are big and busy at all of the nearby restaurants on game day. For many people, though, that great game day crowd is part of the fun. Some of the best nearby restaurants and bars include:
21st Amendment Brewery. This is one of the most popular spots on game days due in no small part to the fact that it has a cool outdoor seating area. There’s a limited food menu on game days that is posted on their website.
Public House. This is a popular local sports bar that serves upscale pub food along with many different types of drinks.
MoMo’s. The number one menu item at this nearby restaurant is wood fired pizza.
Ironside Café. The pizza is a popular choice here as well although sandwiches run a close second.
Paragon Restaurant. The loft ceilings and warehouse feel of this restaurant perfectly capture the essence of the SoMA/ South Beach neighborhood where the ballpark is located. The food is fancy New American cuisine.
Tres Agaves Restaurant. It’s known for its tequila but this restaurant also has a great selection of Mexican food.
South Park Café. This casual French cuisine spot is a little less crowded than some of the other nearby bars and restaurants.
Hi Dive at Pier 28 ½. Enjoy food and drinks overlooking the bay at this restaurant. If you’re going to a weekend game, stop in here first for brunch.
Zeke’s. This sports bar has bratwurst and cheap beer, which go well with game day.
If you really enjoy gathering with other Giants fans then you may just want to go hang out at the big party spots where the fans get together before the game. The Coca-Cola Fan Lot and China Basin Park are the two most popular gathering spots on game days.
At the Stadium
In addition to all that there is to do in the neighborhood, there is plenty to keep you busy at the stadium itself. A great way to get started is to take the AT&T Park Tour. This ticketed tour ($10 for kids, $17.50 for adults) will take you behind the scenes to the track, the dugout and even an indoor visitors’ batting cage. For an additional cost you can add a Ducks tour on the nearby water.
Once you are inside the stadium, you may want to eat. This is no plain old hotdog kind of place; you can get high quality gourmet meals and top notch cocktails at this San Francisco baseball stadium. Some of the top food choices:
Dungeness Crab on grilled, buttery sourdough bread
Puerto Rican black beans and seasoned rice with jerk chicken and pineapple salsa
Bazurros Italian flatbread
Fresh, healthy salads
Freshly carved turkey, beef briskets and pulled pork sandwiches
Delicious authentic Mexican food
Upscale cocktails, fancy wines and beer from local microbreweries
Many people wonder if they can bring their own food to the ballpark. The answer is yes. However, you cannot bring alcoholic beverages and you can’t bring glass bottles into the park. Pack your food in clear plastic bags to get through security easily. This is a smart choice for people who are attending the game on a budget because the excellent food at this stadium is very expensive.
For those who aren’t on such a strict budget, shopping is another option inside the stadium. Some of the souvenirs you might want to get:
Baseball cards from Topps
Memorabilia from the Dugout Store
All of these stadium amenities make any game day a fun day. But one of the things that makes this stadium especially fun is that there is always some kind of special event happening here to make the game even more enjoyable. Examples include “dog days” when dogs are allowed at the park (pets usually aren’t allowed) and days when fireworks are held over the water after the game. Check the AT&T website and local San Francisco news sites for information about those events.
Tips for Saving Money on Giants Tickets
San Francisco Giants games are often sold out especially since they have recently won the World Series – twice! To make sure that you get a seat at the stadium, you do want to purchase your tickets in advance. Unfortunately, tickets can get somewhat pricey. Some of the best ways to save money on game tickets include:
Goldstar. You can sign up for free to be a member of Goldstar, a site that offers discounted tickets to many events. It is very common for them to have San Francisco Giants tickets available often at half-price.
eBay. The popular auction site often has people who are selling tickets to Giants games. Prices on the site can sometimes get competitive.
Scalpers. There are many different scalpers selling tickets to San Francisco Giants games. You can find them on scalper websites. You can also find them meandering around the plaza outside of the stadium. There are definitely risks to getting tickets from scalpers. Some of them are con who will take more money than you should give. If this is a risk that you’re willing to take, however, there are also a lot of “average Joes” out there scalping tickets on game days.
Some Extra Insider Tips from San Francisco Locals
Some of the additional tips and insider information that you might want to know about AT&T Ballpark includes:
The weather is usually a lot colder than people expect it to be. Summer in San Francisco is chilly and windy so prepare accordingly. Bring sweatshirts, jackets and blankets. Tip: The Coors Light Deck offers heated flooring and a heated deck.
Tailgating is permitted in parking lots C and D for people who do drive to the ballpark. It is more common for people to do pre-game partying at local bars, though.
There is WiFi at the park. In 2004, AT&T ballpark became the first professional sports venue to provide continuous universal wireless access to fans in all concourses and seating areas. Take advantage of it! Use the MLB.com phone app to stay aware of everything happening at the park while you’re there.
It’s totally fine for you to leave the ballpark and come back later. Get your hand stamped for re-entry before you leave.
If you are lucky you might get on the Kiss Cam. Attend the game with someone you want to smooch on the big screen just in case!
The Giants biggest rivalry is with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Expect a lot of energy at those games!
The AT&T Ballpark website has a very helpful A-Z Guide that can answer a lot of the questions that you might have about going to a Giants game.
Make the most out of your San Francisco Giants baseball game experience!