The San Francisco Giants opened AT&T Park, an award-winning ballpark, in 2000. One thing that I respect about this ballpark is that it was the first privately funded stadium build since 1962; that is impressive. It was recently voted the number one sports venue by the Sports Business Awards, and boasts some of the best views in all of baseball.
The View of the Water is Fantastic and Unique - via Flickr user Don DeBold
That said, San Fran is a notoriously expensive city so finding value is a little tougher than just about every other city you'll visit. But AT&T Park is so magical, so beautiful, that it's worth finding ways to pinch the pennies and get there.
Arriving at AT&T Park
Alternative/Public Transportation to a Giants Game
*** THE GOOD NEWS: It's Almost Too Easy to Use Public Transportation Here ***
Honestly though, there is more public transportation to AT&T Park than any other Major League stadium. Here is a rundown from ballparksavvy.com contributor, Dan Celenza:
If staying in San Francisco, you can take the Muni Metro. Lines N and T go directly to the ballpark and let you off at the 2nd and King St. station.
If coming from the Peninsula or the South Bay area, you can pick up CALTRAIN throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo and take it within one block of the ballpark. In addition, you can ride BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) from Milbrae, SFO (Airport), South San Francisco, San Bruno, Colma, or Daly City to downtown San Fran and transfer to the MUNI METRO N or T @ Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery, or Embarcadero stations
You can ride various ferries to the park from other parts of the bay area as well. From the East Bay (Alameda and Contra Costa), you can take the Alameda/Oakland Ferry to the park. In addition, from the North Bay, the Lakespur Ferry will bring you to the park from the Marin and Sonoma areas. AT&T Park is its own stop.
I would say that the Ferries are pretty cool because it’s a unique experience, especially if you are from out of town. The fare is going to be a bit under twenty round trip per person, but you should always plan ahead and check the necessary company for schedules, parking, and pricing.
If you take advantage of some of the fun around the park, you may want to skip the stress of public transport. Uber is a great option for getting around San Francisco. If you haven't used Uber before, get your first ride free.
Driving to a Giants Game
*** THE BAD NEWS: It's Nearly Impossible to Park Cheaply ***
Most people, including the Giants themselves, recommend taking public transportation, and I can’t disagree. It is generally more convenient and much cheaper to take the BART or another method of public transit.
If you prefer to drive, there are a few hacks that may allow you to get into the ballpark with a few extra bucks in your wallet.
There are two hot spots where you might be able to park for free if you arrive early, though you’ll have to work for it.
The first is on Townsend Street between 5th and 6th. The second is near the UCSF Mission Bay campus around the intersection of 16th and 3rd. Both options would require you to walk about a mile. If you’re up for the walk, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Townsend Street Between 5th and 6th
Metered street parking near the stadium costs at least $7 per hour. PER HOUR. The meters shut off at 10pm on game days, which means parking on the street for a game is just as expensive as an off street option. INSANITY.
Parking across San Francisco is in high demand, and the neighborhoods surrounding AT&T Park are no different. The parking garages or lots nearest to the stadium START well over what other cities top out at for Giants games, with a ceiling well over $50 range. Expensive, yes, but welcome to San Francisco.
Postseason parking? You don't even want to know.
One great option available for pre-purchase is a lot at 44 Perry St. A prepaid reservation costs about the price of a beer and puts you just 10 minutes walking away from the stadium. Pretty reasonable.
Parking is Available on Both Sides of Perry
Parking Panda allows you to purchase parking beforehand, practically mandatory in SanFran. They allow you to search for and reserve guaranteed parking spots ahead of time, which could be especially useful for Giants games. You can view where each parking garage or lot is located and how much it will cost, enabling you to select the most cost effective parking solution. You pay for parking ahead of time, they’ll email you a parking pass, and you can drive to the stadium with peace of mind.
Check it out here or view all of their Giants parking options below:
Giant Mitt. And a Giant Coke - via Flickr user Mariko
Best Food At & Near AT&T Park
Save Money on Food
Like many other ballparks, if you are looking to save money at AT&T Park you can bring your own food and drink. This includes pretty much any food and sealed plastic bottles with non-alcoholic beverages. You can take a small soft sided cooler, so pack some lunches from home or pick up something cheap on the way and you can easily save $40 vs. buying food for a family at AT&T Park.
Overall, AT&T park is one place you may want to splurge a little on food. They go waaaaay beyond the typical ballpark fare, and you could spend the whole night walking around to check the different options.
Food You Shouldn't Miss at AT&T Park
2 words: Garlic Fries.
1. Gilroy Garlic Fries: Everybody loves them, and if you are coming from out of town or you live in the Bay area but haven’t tried them; you must. They will set you back about a tenner, but I would say it’s worth it to splurge a little when you can. On the Club Level.
2. Crazy Crab'z: this establishment out behind center field is expensive. Period. But the chowder and the crab are what San Fran is known for. Get the Crab sandwich, on local sourdough, to feel like a real San Fran native.
Cheap Giants Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at AT&T Park
As far as best value seats in the ballpark, I would recommend the upper deck behind home plate. Tickets are a good value for San Fran, and you get a majestic view of the game and the Cove. Ideally you should shoot for something in or around section 315 and as close to row 1 as possible.
If you are going to a game with kids, you may think the left field bleachers are a better value. The prices are about the same as above, but AT&T Park has an awesome wiffle ball stadium behind the left field section where kids can play during the game. I like when kids watch the game and enjoy it, but if they are bored it’s better to have an option to entertain them than to be annoyed to death. There is also a slide inside the giant Coke bottle, which is a nice novelty as well.
Left Field Upper Deck Seats Offer Great Views of the Water - via Flickr user Mikol
Keep in mind all of the outfield seats are bleachers with no back, including left field. The last row of the section will allow you to lean up against a brick wall behind you, which is preferable in my opinion. If you sit in 139, ask for row 26 and get a little back support and a closer walk to concessions and entertainment spots. Some sections have 29 rows and some 26, so just ask or check the AT&T Park website.
The big scoreboard and jumbo screen are in dead center field. I wouldn’t advise sitting in the center field bleachers for this reason. I think the modern game gets so much added to the experience by seeing the information and entertainment on the big screen.
Where to Stay While Visiting AT&T Park
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you usually can find places to stay that are just a quick ride to AT&T Park.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at AT&T Park
1. Willie Mays Plaza: outside the main entrance is the Willie Mays Plaza, a lovely place to wait before heading in. There's often fun and vendors hanging out in the area, but you'll want to make sure you find the outstanding statue of Willie Mays. Mays is captured in a moment of pure action, after hitting one of his 660 bolts out of Candlestick.
The Great Willie Mays - via Flickr user dannymac15_1999
2. Statues of Greats: Besides Willie, other greats are honored with statues around the park. Find 1958 RoY Orlando Cepeda outside the 2nd Ave entrance. Crazy-kicking Dominican pitcher Juan Marichal can be found outside the 3rd Ave entrance. And follow the Giants History walk to McCovey cove to find Willie McCovey in all his glory.
McCovey Stands Watch at His Stunning Cove - via Flickr user Owen Bryne
3. Pretty Little Quirks: AT&T Park is one of the most charismatic parks because of all the little touches. When a Giant hits a home run, a cable car near center field dings its bell. Balls that fly out past right field splash in the McCovey cove behind the park. There are no bullpens, like old parks. Flags for all the teams fly around the top of the stadium, while banners honor various champion Giants teams. Advertisements for companies which helped fund the park are hidden all over the stadium.