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LL’s Guide to Seeing a Rainiers Game at Cheney Stadium

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all the baseball fun of Safeco at a significantly reduced cost

In advance of the Mariners’ Opening Day, we published our Guide to Safeco; with the minor league season getting underway today, we are providing you a similar service for our neighbors to the south. In case you haven’t been, a Rainiers game is great fun to go to, at approximately a third of the cost of attending a game at the Safe. Below, our tips for maximizing your experience:

Getting there/Pre-Game/Getting Tickets:

This is the lone bummer, if you live in Seattle or nearby, of getting to Rainiers games. There isn’t really a great way to get there on public transportation, outside of taking the Sounder train down and taking a rideshare to the stadium (about a 10-15 minute drive, depending on traffic). Once you do arrive, be aware that it’s $10 to park in the lot, and the lot fills up quickly on game days; if you arrive early, you can probably find a free spot on the gravel drive by the high school or across the street towards 5th. The Fred Meyer lot across the street has several Strongly Worded Signs about not parking there for games; I’ve done it a couple times and not had problems, but it doesn’t feel great. If you can walk, there’s street parking around the Fred Meyer if you look.

Tacoma is a cool town worth exploring and I like to go early and grab a bite or a beer before the game. I love Narrows Brewing down at the marina, 5 minutes away from the stadium; on nice summer days it is heavenly to get a beer there and sit next to a window, smelling the salt air and looking out at the bridge. The Red Hot, over on 6th Ave, used to have a stand at the stadium, but is still close enough to grab a pre-game hot dog if your tastes run to the gourmet, and their beer list is on point. Dirty Oscar’s is also on 6th and is a bang-up place to do brunch before a day game, but build in extra time—they get busy. Pop in in the afternoon for a more relaxed environment.

You can buy your tickets right at the box office and avoid pesky service fees for most games, although be aware if a big-leaguer is making a rehab start tickets will go quickly and it’s best to use the website. Similarly, for any of the special promo nights like college nights (Paint the Park Purple, Color Cheney Crimson), you’ll need to get tickets in advance to get all the swag that comes with that. I usually buy the cheapest ticket I can—a lawn seat—and spend my time wandering, but if you feel like splurging, Summit Club comes with a great view, free snacks and complimentary beer and wine. It’s worth calling the box office and finding out if R Yard seats are being sold for the game you want to attend; they include a drink and are the best value at the park, I think. It’s also worth being aware of what the special deals are for the week: Northwest beer Wednesdays ($5) and Friday Fireworks are always guaranteed good times.

In-Game Experience:

Tacoma offers all your basic ballpark food: hot dogs, chicken strips, pizza, garlic fries, cotton candy, all of which can be found on the main concourse (also delicious fish tacos, a mushroom veggie burger, and new this year fried cauliflower “chicken wings”). Last year, Tacoma introduced a barbecue stand up near the new fireplace deck along the third base line with pulled pork and brisket sandwiches plus mac and cheese or beans ($12) which is dee-lic-ious. This year the barbecue stand is being joined by a brats stand, which, according to Communications Director Brett Gleason, is the bomb (he recommends the jalapeno-cheese brat, $10; there is also a plethora of gourmet toppings to choose from). The other newcomer to Cheney, replacing the Red Hot on the main concourse behind home plate, is the Ribachi, which will offer teriyaki bowls (chicken, steak, tofu) for $11, customizable with homemade sauces (peanut sauce and boom boom sauce).

There’s a shiny new sign this year pointing your way to the fireplace deck, which is a great place to stand on a cool evening and enjoy a beer or a drink in one of the Adirondack chairs scattered across the deck. You have a decent view of the field, too.

For kids, there’s a pretty serious playground, a big grassy berm to run around on, and a wiffle ball field over on the right field line. Pro tip: buy your beer at the craft beer stand/coffee bar before you head over there to supervise the wee ones. The in-game entertainment is also well-worth watching, with lots of silly moments courtesy of Casey Catherwood and his unending bag of tricks.

Taking in a Rainiers game is a lot of fun, and a great way to spend a summer evening when the Mariners are out of town/playing a ridiculous east coast day game. It also won’t eat into your wallet quite the way a night out seeing the big-league team will. See you at Cheney!