This year, the line was supposed to be that while the big-league club took a step back, the party would move down to Tacoma with a group of exciting prospects on the Rainiers. So far, that hasn’t been the case as the Mariners bulldoze opponents like the biggest kid on the playground, but that shouldn’t keep you from dipping a toe in the South Sound while the big-league club is out of town. Tacoma had their Opening Night last night and won a thriller in the bottom of the ninth; they’re home for the rest of this week through the weekend, and it’s a great time for you to get out and see some baseball for a fraction of the price you’ll pay over at T-Mobile. Here’s how to make the most out of your Cheney Stadium experience:
You can buy tickets at the box office on game day, but for weekend games or days when a big-leaguer is making a rehab start, be aware that lines can stretch into the parking lot. Save time and order your tickets from Tacoma’s website, where you can also order tickets for special promotions.
- Mondays: BECU value days. $15 gets you a seat, a ballpark meal (hotdog, chips, water), and a Rainiers hat. BECU members also get 10% off at the team store.
- Wednesdays: NW Brews Wednesdays. Each week features a different local brewery.
- Thursdays: Thirsty Thursdays, $2 Coors Light cans on the R Bar party deck.
- Saturdays: Little Ceasar’s Family Night Deal ($11 per ticket, 4 tickets minimum, for a deal including tickets, hats, ballpark meals, a coupon for 2 hot-and-ready pizzas and 2 crazy breads, 2 youth admissions to the Museum of Glass and either Point Defiance zoo/aquarium or Northwest Trek); also Silver Bullet Saturdays ($20 per ticket for a seat, a 20 oz. Coors Light, and a t-shirt).
- Sundays: Chik-Fil-A’s Bring the Herd ($11 per ticket, 4 tickets minimum, for a deal including tickets, hats, ballpark meals, a coupon for a Chik-Fil-A meal that you cannot use on Sunday); Rosé All Day ($20 for a ticket, a glass of rosé, and a “Rosé All Day” long-sleeve shirt)
Other special events as announced; check in on the Rainiers Twitter or Instagram for the latest happenings. This year Tacoma will host a series of Copa de la Diversión games with special celebrations honoring the Latinx community of Tacoma; check the promotions page on their website for those dates.
Unfortunately, for Seattle-based fans, there isn’t really a great way to get to Tacoma 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. Hopefully with the Reign moving in along with the Defiance (formerly S2), the Tacoma ownership group will start looking into more eco-friendly ways to get fans coming in on public transportation over to Cheney.
Food and drink:
There’s plenty of good food and drink to enjoy in Tacoma before you head over to the park. If you have the flexibility, plan some extra time into your schedule to try out Narrows Brewing down at the marina, a beautiful space with large windows overlooking the marina and a rotating menu of local beers. Or stop off at one of the many restaurants at nearby 6th street: Dirty Oscar’s Annex has a delicious brunch if you’re down for a day game, or snag a tasty hotdog at local institution The Red Hot.
Beyond the baseball standards of burgers, hot dogs, and pizza (and fish-n-chips, because Ivar’s), there’s also a barbecue stand and a taco/nacho stand to tie in with this year’s Copa promotion. The barbecue stand, located where the R-bachi was last season, offers three different barbecue sauces in classic, honey BBQ, and spicy, and sandwiches are served with a side of mac and cheese or baked beans.
The R Bar party deck has a full bar and a fire pit that you can stand around on breezy nights, plus a new bocce ball lawn, giant Jenga, and cornhole. Their selection of beer tends to be one of the better in the stadium, as well as the stand located on the main concourse directly behind home plate. The party deck is wheelchair-accessible, as is the rest of the park via a ramp on the third base side. With the loss of the R-bachi stand this year (and its delicious tofu-rice bowls), vegans and those with gluten sensitivities will have a hard time locating food that’s safe for them; a pit stop at the Fred Meyer across the street is strongly recommended.
Cheney is an excellent place for families, especially parents of young children. It’s much easier to leave a game in the fourth inning after a toddler meltdown when you only paid $20 to get in. But with a large play area suitable for both bigger and littler kids, a wiffle ball field, a grassy berm to run around on, visits from Rhubarb the Reindeer, and highly entertaining inning-break acts courtesy of mad genius Casey Catherwood, there’s plenty here to keep kids entertained. Come early for batting practice and your youngster can chase fly balls that sail over the fence while you sit on the hill directly opposite the park (called “Cheapskate Hill” because it provides a look into the park), perhaps with a can of beer you’ve purchased from Fred Meyer? I’m not the boss of you.
Headed to the game? Check out our roster preview to see who to watch:
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!