MLB stadiums have more non-sport related amenities than any other professional league and their respective sport. Baseball games attract everything from the hardcore fan to the person who is more interested in getting a good picture with their hot dog. Baseball stadiums try to cater to every type of fan, but is it really necessary to have a night club like the Miami Marlins or an aquarium like the Tampa Bay Rays. Every year it seems like MLB stadiums keep adding attractions that are not only unrelated to baseball, but are actual distractions from the game. Being able to pet a couple sting rays is cool, but is it really necessary at a baseball game?
Baseball games are LONG! The average MLB game will last around three hours while there will only be 20-30 minutes of legitimate action during that span. Unlike most sports, you can go get food during the back end of the batting order and chances are you probably will not miss much. If the game is a blowout, commonly, you will see people leaving to beat traffic by the seventh inning stretch. So many MLB stadiums have tried to add amenities that not only draw you to the stadium, but to keep the consumer happy even if the product is bad. It is similar to how minor league teams have dollar beer nights and kid nights to bring in consumers.
The Clevelander at Marlins Park is a club that is open two hours before the game all the way up until two hours after every home game. The party bar gives spectators the option of watching the game, going in a pool, or even live entertainment before and after the game. You could spend a night at the Clevelander and completely forget that your owner has no intent of putting a good product on the field.
The pool and hot tub area at Chase field in Arizona can be rented out for the game for around five to seven grand depending on the game. Along with lounging in right field you also have a good chance of being on ESPN. In addition to these amenities, stadiums, in general, are just more pleasant places to be at than they used to.
Last summer, I found myself at Citi Field (the home to the dumpster fire organization otherwise known as the New York Mets) for a Mets- San Diego Padres game. The Mets used to play at Shea Stadium and its’ condition was extremely similar to the product being put on the field. Let’s just say you were playing with fire going into the bathroom without closed toe shoes. The toilet water seemed to be everywhere, but in the toilets. I had heard Citi Field was a huge improvement and I was excited to see it for myself.
First off, “The Landscape Plaza” design, as stated on their website, gives you a nice amount of room to walk (and not worry about getting your beer on tap instead of in a can. It is pretty cool temperature wise in there too. The place looked more than enough for a full crowd, but for a Tuesday night it felt nice and open. Once at my nice upper deck seat, I was again blown away. YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE STUFF FROM THE UPPER DECK!
They can make stadiums, now, where sitting in the upper deck is actually a pleasurable viewing experience. My dad always used to tell me stories of how he saw DR. J (Julius Erving) play and the only reason he could tell it was him was because of his huge fro. Otherwise, he said they just looked like ants in the distance. It’s not easy to make out their faces, but the players are standing still most of the time meaning you have time to look over your program.
The game itself was not anything special. There was very little hype around the game, but it did not really matter. Most people at these games have no idea who the fifth starter is or the backup catcher. They are just there because a baseball stadium is a nice place to hangout with friends or to have a business meeting. The action is very infrequent so missing the first at bat of the next inning is worth getting that high end pulled pork sandwich that Citi Field has to offer.
The stadium had a nice relaxing feel to it. A feeling that could be compared to walking onto a well manicured golf course. New attractions at stadiums are not meant to appeal to everyone, but they give the casual fan an ability to have a good time regardless of the quality of the game.
Even though I didn’t experience the lavish amenities and food that you commonly see Darren Rovell tweet about, I can see why stadiums put them in and how they are appealing to fans. Baseball is a slow moving game and if the product out there isn’t great the stadium itself can make a boring game an enjoyable one.
A baseball stadium is probably the best stadium to go to if you don’t even care about what is happening on the field. There is no other sport where you will see fans doing anything but watching the game. The idea of making the stadium more fun for the casual fan is a good one and it will be interesting to see what new attractions will come to baseball parks in the future. It is definitely something to consider if you ever have five grand to spend in Arizona to go rent out the hot tub at Chase Field. A beer or two wouldn’t hurt either.