Mariners enhance fan experience at Safeco Field

SEATTLE — With opening day just around the corner, a more fan-friendly Safeco Field is almost ready for its 2013 debut as well.

The new fence is up, creating hitter-friendly(ish) dimensions that should mean more offense, which is a nice change of pace for fans who have seen far too many 2-1 ballgames in recent years.

Construction workers are putting the final touches on Edgar’s Cantina, the new spot in left field that will offer food and drinks close to the action (seriously, pay attention out there. And bring a glove).

The most noticeable difference, of course, will be the ridiculously large HD video display in centerfield that has replaced the old scoreboard.

Of course, the Mariners know all too well that none of these changes, the total bill for which came to about $15 million, will mean much to fans if the on-field product isn’t also improved. But a demonstration of the new MarinersVision display, as well as a brief walk around the stadium made it pretty clear that the game-day experience at Safeco Field will be a bit better this year.

In addition to the new scoreboard, which at 11,425 square feet is pretty spectacular, the Mariners have created another “beer garden” are for fans to hang out in left field above the new Edgar’s Cantina (though they won’t call it a beer garden). Even better, the center-field area known as “The Pen” or as fans informally know it, the original beer garden, has increased in size thanks to the center-field walls moving in.

And from out there in center field, from that place where so many young people drink beer while sort of watching baseball, the view looking up and to the left at that new scoreboard will be quite impressive. Imagine the biggest, high-defiest TV that any of your friends owns, then blow it up about a million times and that’s what this new scoreboard looks like. (Note: that math may be a bit off. And yes, I know high-defiest is not a real word.)

The stat geeks will be happy to know that players’ on-base plus slugging percentage will be displayed this year along with the more traditional stats. But again, if those OPS numbers for the home team aren’t improved, Safeco’s shiny new toy won’t mean a lot to fans.

Even so, this was a needed upgrade for the Mariners. When Safeco Field opened in 1999, it was one of baseball’s best stadiums, and in a lot of ways it still is, but the old scoreboard was showing its age.

According to Mariners marketing wizard Kevin Martinez (OK, his actual title isn’t marketing wizard. At least I don’t think it is), the No. 1 fan request was for an upgraded scoreboard. And yes, a cynic — OK, me — could quickly point out that fans might like something else even more than a new scoreboard, namely, a winning team.

However, that big new scoreboard will provide a not-so-subtle upgrade to the stadium experience. And as a quick aside, if any gentlemen are going to end up on said gigantic screen, just a heads up, a few days of stubble really doesn’t look great on a 4,147,200-pixel screen. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything.

Now if that power-hitting team that has gone 21-11 this spring can show up for the regular season, then Mariners fans will have something much better to look forward to than an impressive new scoreboard.

Herald columnist John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

More in Sports

Walton has Edmonds CC men’s basketball back in contention

The sophomore forward — recovered from injury — will lead the Tritons into a rivalry battle at Everett.

Report: Seahawks to bring back Norton, Solari as assistants

Norton would replace Richard as defensive coordinator and Solari would be the offensive line coach.

Silvertips hold off Tri-City for 6-5 victory

Matt Fonteyne tied a club record with 5 assists for Everett.

UW men’s basketball players making voices heard

The Huskies’ discussion of social injustice with a professor spurred the team into action.

Karrah Smith wrestles Tim Rachal during practice at Granite Falls High School on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 in Granite Falls, Wa. She finished sixth in the 145-pound weight class at last year’s Mat Classic and is eyeing a better finish this season at 170 pounds. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Five things to know about Granite Falls’ Karrah Smith

When she’s wrestling, Karrah Smith likes to be in control. During matches… Continue reading

BLOG: Silvertips run streak to five straight with win over Tri-City

The Weekend To borrow sports parlance, the Everett Silvertips “got the result… Continue reading

BLOG: ‘Big Walt’ visits Everett to to drop puck and Silvertips win

I want to thank @Benton_Mike, the @WHLsilvertips and @C_Hart70 for welcoming me… Continue reading

Monday’s prep results, with links to recaps

Here are Monday’s prep results, with links to recaps: BOYS BASKETBALL Wesco… Continue reading

POLL: Will Edgar Martinez get into the Hall of Fame?

The Seattle Mariners legend will learn on Jan. 24 whether he received enough votes for enshrinement

Most Read