The Seattle Mariners have made the hard push the past couple of years to improve the on-field experience and to try and grind away memories of 100-seasons and send them into the abyss of the Bertha tunnel. So far, it is working.
Robinson Cano is ours until his legs fall off. Felix Hernandez loves Seattle more than any sane human being in his position should. Kyle Seager blossomed into a legitimate All-Star. The good tidings continued this offseason (to a degree) as the front office has made moves in an effort to position the Mariners to finish the season in the playoffs -- not one game out of them.
So now that the on-field experience is up to par, let's talk about the overall Safeco Field experience. For the most part, Safeco gets its well deserved accolades. The views from every angle of the stadium are pretty top-notch. The food strives to be local and above your standard ballpark fare and the beer selection is the best in MLB.
There are still a few things that need to be figured out though. The Mariners get their fair share of criticism for making the Mariners experience slightly kitschy. Crowds are wowed with poorly dancing groundskeepers and virtual hydroplane races in Lake Washington involving multiple collisions and the occasional whale or octopus.
So the question is, how to rate the Safeco Field experience compared to all other stadiums. I could be like the girl I saw during a tour of Fenway Park earlier this year who was in the process of visiting every major league stadium. But that takes time I'm slowly wasting away, money I don't have and vacations days I'm always short on to make it work. So let's go with the next most credible source of popular opinion -- Yelp.
Honest, hard-working Yelpers are people doing the dirty work. They go to establishments of all kinds, keep mental notes and offer constructive criticism on the product they receive. They've created a website full of valuable information for people that need some direction in their travels. Then there are the other 97 percent of people leaving reviews on Yelp who have turned it into a laughable wasteland of everything that is wrong with American consumerism. The people talking next to me were too loud? ONE STAR. The restaurant told me it would be a two-hour wait on Friday night at 7 p.m.? ONE STAR.
But we can't discount all of the one-star reviewers. Perhaps there is some actual information to gleam from those disenfranchised individuals. So let's take a look at all the baseball stadiums and parks in MLB and see how they fare.
|stadium||team||total reviews||one-star reviews|
|Angel Stadium of Anaheim||Angels||901||44|
|Citizens Bank Park||Phillies||332||5|
|Fenway Park||Red Sox||859||12|
|Globe Life Park||Rangers||230||1|
|Great American Ball Park||Reds||195||2|
|Minute Maid Park||Astros||210||7|
|Rogers Centre||Blue Jays||163||13|
|U.S. Cellular Field||White Sox||449||15|
Overall, Safeco Field is a pretty pleasant experience. The average for all stadiums in baseball was an one-star review per 66.4 reviews. The Mariners average an one-star review every 76.3 reviews. Not too shabby.
Three stadiums stood out as the overall worst: Dodgers Stadium, O.co Coliseum and Rogers Centre. The poor A's are stuck in a dump that no one else enjoys either, averaging an one-star review once every 7.7 reviews. Dodgers Stadium and Rogers Centre averaged an one-star review approximately every 13 reviews. For what it is worth, Dodgers Stadium seemed to be adversely affected by people whose only criticism was "Dodgers suck." But then two separate people posted the same review, re-enforcing what we all know: Dodgers' fans are the worst.
But back to the task at hand. Does Yelp offer any constructive criticism the Mariners can act on to improve the experience? The quick answer is no. Here is the long answer.
The following reviews stemmed from concessions.
Of those four reviews, two are pretty much worthless. To the person who has gone to Safeco umpteen times and is upset about food prices, they might as well go through every stadium for every sport and deliver a scathing one-star review because that is just the unfortunate reality of sports. To the person who was upset about this incident, the Mariners responded in a admirable way for a large corporation stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
Not having enough concessions on opening night is a bad thing though Mariners. So there is your constructive criticism: make sure concessions are stocked on opening night! That last Yelp review also segues into the next batch of reviews: issues with alcohol enforcement.
As someone who has seen this in person more than often, it is unfortunate how the alcohol enforcement functions at Safeco. I am all for the idea of confiscating illegal smuggled booze, but the fact of the matter is that alcohol enforcement's solution to someone over-served at the hands of other stadium employees is to remove the potentially offending individual from the premises. Potentially is the key word here, because more often than not, the person removed has offended one person in their immediate surroundings, not everyone. So more constructive criticism Mariners: be more even-handed with alcohol enforcement.
The following review can be dismissed because it is unfairly giving Safeco Field a one-star review for something it cannot control. Instead, the following review should have been left on the Seattle Mariners' Yelp site.
Last, but not least, we have a quite confusing one-star review that seems like an unfortunate case of a grandmother getting the hold of the internet.
So there we have it. Overall, the Mariners are doing pretty nicely on the Safeco Field front, and with a better team that experience will only continue to get better. If you are still with me at the end of this 1,000-plus words, I apologize for wasting your time so thoroughly. Next up, let's see how the Seattle Mariners stack up on Yelp versus all the other baseball clubs!