By Ted Chalfen
Follow him at: twitter.com/theghostofmarv
So you've decided to make the trip to Coors Field for the Stadium Series game. Or maybe you're like me and the price was too steep so you decided to check out the old-timers in the alumni game instead. That's great!
But maybe you've never been to Coors Field before. Or maybe the last time you were there Larry Walker and Dante Bichette were still roaming the outfield. No problem. I've got a few tips that will make your experience at either game more fun and less intimidating.
Get there early - like, really early
For your average Avs game (or Rockies game for that matter) parking half an hour beforehand gives you more than enough time to get through security and make it to your seat. However, when Coors Field is sold out (and it definitely will be) it can take a long time to get everyone inside. You're probably familiar with how long the lines have been getting into Pepsi Center since they started having everyone take their cell phones and keys out. Now imagine that with almost three times as many people.
On opening day 2015, when the Rockies first instituted this policy, many people found themselves waiting in security lines long after the game had already begun. Don't let that happen to you. Try to park at least an hour before the game starts. Speaking of parking...
Parking at Coors Field isn't that bad if you do it right
The main parking lot at Coors Field usually costs $14. I'm not sure if they'll increase that for this game or not, but it's hard for me to see it being much more than $25. Unless you're disabled or pay extra for a Lot A pass (currently running at $50 on StubHub), you're going to find yourself in Lot B. It's quite a ways from the stadium, but they run free shuttle buses pretty regularly and the farther away you parked the more likely you are to get a seat instead of having to stand. The only drawback is that, after the game, there's a pretty long line for the buses going the other direction.
Personally I would recommend just walking back to your car. It's not as arduous as it seems, and I've done it almost every time I've gone to Coors Field. Plus, the exercise will keep you warmer than standing around waiting for the bus will. Usually you can find parking in other lots near the stadium for very reasonable prices, but my bet would be that every guy who runs a lot anywhere in LoDo will be charging a premium on Saturday, and maybe on Friday as well. If you're a real bargain hunter you may be able to find one with a better deal than the others, but I wouldn't waste my time or energy on it.
Get there in time to check out the party deck
Despite the flak it got when it was built, the Coors Field party deck up in right field â officially known as "The Rooftop" â is actually a really cool place to hang out before the game. None of its features are restricted to people who have tickets in that area. CHUBurger has the best burgers in the stadium for my money, and while their milkshakes won't be quite as appealing in late February as late July, they're still really good if you can handle the brain freeze.
There's a bar on the second level of the Rooftop that's partially enclosed, which might be the best place to hang out depending on the weather. It has plenty of TVs as well if there are other games you want to keep tabs on. There's also a lounge area with deck chairs and cornhole, and there's very often live music. Overall the party deck is a really nice way to kill time if you get there early enough.
Here's where to spend your money
The major merchandise shop is located along the first base line in the 100 level. I imagine they'll have plenty of Avs Stadium Series official gear for exorbitant prices, as well as 75% off on Corey Dickerson jerseys.
There's an "interactive zone" intended mainly for kids in right field of the 100 level behind the bullpens. All of its activities are baseball-themed and I'm not sure if they'll be modifying the "pitch speed" cage into a "slapshot speed" cage just for this game. Still might be a cool thing to check out during intermissions.
Helton Burger, located on the left field concourse, is a very popular concession stand with great burgers and milkshakes. It's located near another merchandise store, which specializes in kid's apparel. There's also a playground for children under a certain height in left field, which is actually free.
Overall the regular concessions at Coors are far superior to Pepsi Center. The burgers aren't as good as CHUBurger or Helton Burger, but they aren't bad. The nachos are miles ahead of Pepsi Center, and the French fries are good if you like things salty. Hot dogs aren't bad, and you can get a footlong "Rockie Dog" if that's what your heart desires. There's even a gluten free concession stand along the third base line in the 100 level which has some pretty good burgers.
If you don't have tickets yet, here's where to sit
In my opinion, the best place to sit for this game is high up. The 100 level infield seats at Coors Field slant backwards at a very low angle, and I have a feeling like the sightlines for a hockey game taking place in the middle of the infield won't be that great if you're too close to the front. But you probably don't want to be a mile away in the Rockpile or the Rooftop either. I would recommend sitting somewhere in the upper level behind home plate. Anywhere between sections 321 and 340 should provide you with a really good view of the action at a more reasonable price. I'll be sitting in section 330 for the alumni game myself, which is my favorite section to sit in for baseball games as well.
Obviously a large part of your experience at the game(s) will have to do with how well the Avs play, but if you follow these tips I can guarantee that you won't starve, break the bank, leave without a souvenir or find yourself stuck in line while hearing a roar come from inside the stadium. Hopefully the Avs, past and present, make the weekend a memorable one.