Thanks to something we won’t name that rhymes with “crow bill man chemic”, we haven’t done one of these guides since 2019, so we figured it was time for a refresh. We hope this guide will help those of you making your first sojourn to T-Mobile, and provide some useful, updated information even if you’ve been to the park several times.
One caveat, though: we haven’t been back to the park since the end of last season, so we’re going off things we’ve learned from years of going to games or observed last season, things we’ve found on the Mariners website, and press releases. If you find something in error, please let us know in the comments and we’ll update the article accordingly.
For the most up-to-date Mariners info, you’ll want to download the Ballpark App; sometimes the website has old or out-of-date information. For example, the Hit It Here Café page is still live, but it was closed for all of last season due to COVID protocols, and you’re not able to buy tickets there now. (Per Kevin Martinez on Twitter there are “lots of discussions” about what will happen to that part of the park. Also, RIP to the sign.)
Public transit is your friend, as parking near the stadium is expensive and fills up quickly. If at all possible skip driving and see if you can grab the light rail from a place near you; if you’re at the extreme south or north ends of the city you can use the Northgate or Tukwila Park-n-Ride options. The light rail will let you off about a ten-minute walk away from the stadium, but be aware you have to cross a fairly busy street with a lot of people and then go up (there is a ramp) and back down again (there is an elevator, but it’s slow/crowded), in case there are people in your party with mobility issues. There are also a variety of bus lines that serve the park. If you’re taking the ferry over or the Water Taxi from West Seattle, it’s a walk of about 20 minutes to the park, all over flat terrain.
If you do need to park and dropping a cool $75 on parking in one of the closer lots isn’t in the budget, get there as early as possible and scour for spots in Pioneer Square, along 3rd Avenue or Western, or along 6th Avenue. Generally, the further south you go, the more ample and cheaper the parking lots are, or you might be able to score street parking. If you’re early enough, there’s often parking on Utah Street, starting just north of Starbucks HQ. Be aware that not all the spots are feasible because of random curbs, and check signage carefully if parking on the east side of the street. There’s also some parking just north of the train tracks on 3rd Avenue around Massachusetts. Be aware that many businesses won’t allow you to park in their lots, even if they’re closed. Always check signs to avoid an unpleasant ticket or worse, a tow. And pro tip: make sure your registration is up to date and your car tabs are current, to avoid an even more unpleasant ticket. Don’t ask us how we know.
Eric tip: Personal safety disclaimer: use common sense if you’re walking back to your car late at night hours after the game has ended. Use the buddy system if at all possible.
Everyone likes people who make the lines go faster. Have your phone with your ticket out and ready to go; a screenshot of the bar code will work too. Make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets that will trigger the metal detector unless you enjoy getting wanded in public. If you have anything that will need to be inspected, unzip/unseal it ahead of time. Note: masks are not required at T-Mobile Park this season, but we will definitely be bringing some along for the home opener and other days where things promise to be packed in pretty tightly. You also won’t need to show proof of vaccination to enter the park.
Don’t forget, with the exception of diaper bags/medical supplies or small clutch-sized bags (4.5x6.5 inches or smaller), only clear bags are allowed inside T-Mobile. Bags must be smaller than 12x6x12 inches, and security needs to be able to see all contents in the bag. You can also bring a gallon-sized ziplock bag; sealed, single-serving snacks are ok to bring inside the ballpark, as is a sealed clear plastic water bottle, no larger than 32 ounces. You cannot bring in a metal water bottle or thermos, even if it’s empty, or anything that is flammable or could be used as a weapon (construction worker/contractor-type friends: take your Leatherman out of your pocket before going to the stadium). You can bring in a blanket, and you should, because the ones they sell at the stadium are ex-pen-sive. Make sure you bring everything you need in with you because once you come in, there’s no re-entry allowed. For a complete list of prohibited items and more details, click here.
Kate tip: on giveaway days, bring a collapsible reusable bag (I like these, from Baggu) to put that bobblehead in…and all your friends’ bobbleheads, too.
Dressing for the park:
It’s not a bad idea to dress for T-Mobile Park like you’re going for a hike (the hike to the 300 level is no joke). There’s nothing worse than shivering at the ballpark, and due to its proximity to the water, the temperature at T-Mobile drops quickly when the sun goes down, even in the balmy summer months. Layer up, have something waterproof on hand, and don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses (including a lip balm with sunscreen in it!) for your day games, especially if you’re going to be sitting on the spit roast that is the bleachers on an August day.
Grant tip: if you don’t layer up, you might be stuck buying a $40 Mariners blanket from the team store. Yes, it’s expensive, but I have a sample size of one (1) cat at home who swears by that blanket. So perhaps it’s a worthwhile investment after all?
Seating at the park:
Eric swears by the left field bleachers as the ideal blend of field view and price, but also cites the party vibes of the bleachers: affordable fun for you and your friends. Jake points out the view from section 321 is unparalleled for both the field view and the dramatic view of the Seattle skyline, all at a budget-friendly price. John, who likes to have a seat, endorses a seat in the 330s, right behind home plate, as the best cheap view in the park. Kate’s move is to buy the cheapest ticket possible, get to the park early and stake out a spot on the centerfield rail on the main concourse, or maybe on the bullpen rail. Unless you are seventeen feet tall or get there right when the park opens and are willing to anchor yourself to one spot all game, don’t bother with the ‘pen if you actually want to see the game.
Jake tip: The absolute best spot in the stadium for everyday tickets is section 321 — you get the full view of the downtown skyline with good sightlines to the field. If I was taking someone to their first game at T-Mobile and didn’t want to spend a fortune, those are the seats I’d get.
If you or someone in your party has mobility challenges, the main concourse can be overwhelming on busy days. Get there as early as possible, get your food sorted ahead of time (have one designated runner), and settle in. Check in with someone wearing a black “T-Mobile Park” jacket at the home plate entrance for directions to the elevator, and stop by guest services on the main concourse for some extra help. If someone in your party has visibility challenges, look for Jacob at the top of the home plate entrance, who knows how to navigate the park firsthand as a Blind person. (Or just look for Jacob in general if you have any questions, he’s very helpful.) If it’s in your budget, the Terrace Club level makes for a less intense experience, and bathroom access is much easier. For those sensitive to sensory overload, the east side of the 300 level is usually the most sparsely populated area in the park, and the concourse is quiet except on the busiest of games.
Pregaming: fill up on the cheap
If you have time, pop through the International District and grab a banh mi to eat on your way to the park: delicious, filling, and inexpensive, it’s about twice as good as any sandwich you’ll get in the park for a third of the price.
Nick’s favorite food to eat is brought in from just outside the ballpark. All of the vendors north of T-Mobile and right outside of Lumen Field are significantly cheaper than the fare inside, and without the restrictions placed by the ballpark product vendors and sources, often of higher quality. Grab a loaded Seattle Dog from Seattle Dogs for $7-8, any variety of hot dog-based concoctions from Marv’s, or try any of the vendors down that row; we vouch for all of them. Almost all of them will let you wrap the food up in foil to bring in, too. Former staff writer Ben swears by Al’s Gourmet Sausages on that same row. Eric loves the El Camión taco truck but they haven’t been there consistently the last couple seasons even before the pandemic, so don’t get your heart completely set on a burrito until you see the truck.
Hooverville is a popular pre-game spot, but Kate prefers to get her pregame beers at the Central Saloon if possible and soak up a little Pioneer Square history. Less grimy, but also less of a landmark, is Altstadt, just a few doors down, which has an extensive German beer list and tasty German eats, and is good for big groups. Eric still loves Collins Pub in Pioneer Square for the always diverse and interesting tap list, excellent burger, and comfy booths in the back if you can get one.
Food and drink at the stadium:
Note that T-Mobile is entirely cashless; you can load up a prepaid card at one of eight self-serve kiosks if you only have cash, but you won’t be able to use cash for anything other than tips in the park.
There are some new vendors at the park this year; Marination is there, as is Just Poké and Pure Açai. We weren’t invited to the T-Mobile Park food preview this year so we don’t have too much more information beyond that.
Probably the biggest change this year is the introduction of the new Mariners value selections. For just $3 each at all Rolling Roof concessions stands, fans can get a hot dog, bottled water, Red Vines, popcorn, nachos, peanuts, or a fountain drink. Even better, the fountain drink is refillable for free, and the machines will be self-service.
The $5/$6 dollar beers are back, too; you can find a complete list of the value beers and all the beers located at the park here or on the MLB Ballpark app under “Beer Finder.” Also, excitingly, this year there will be gluten-free value options: the Vizzy Pineapple Mango seltzer and the Truly Wild Berry seltzer will both be available throughout the park. Athletic’s non-alcoholic IPA will also be available at the value price. Hooray for inclusivity! Also, for the oenophiles among us, T-Mobile Park is offering wines this year from Browne Family Vineyards; season ticket holders can show their season ticket number at the Browne tasting room in Pioneer Square for a discount.
Kate tip: If you can make it to the park early (like, when the gates open early), happy hour in the ‘pen is a nice way to try a few of the different beers on tap and decide what you’re going to be comfortable paying full price for. The pours are smaller, but you can get two at a time, which means you and a couple of friends could sample a good amount of the beers on hand.
The Natural, on the main concourse behind home plate near the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, is where you’ll want to go for all your vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free eats, or if you’ve been to a bunch of games that week and your body is crying for a vegetable. For those with a severe gluten allergy, the plant-based gluten-free dogs at the Natural are cooked on their own rollers and a gluten-free bun that’s kept on a separate shelf from its glutenous counterparts is available for no extra charge. Isabelle would like to remind you cotton candy is gluten free, as are the ubiquitous Grounder’s garlic fries (they’re cooked in their own fryers–for other fries at the park, make sure to ask). We don’t know what exactly Pure Açai will be offering, but we’ll hazard a guess that something will be vegan. Li’l Woody’s in the ‘pen also offers a vegetarian burger, and the vegetable and mushroom bun at Din Tai Fung is also vegan.
Tips for people with kids:
If it’s your child’s first Mariners game ever, tell any usher and they will direct you to a guest services kiosk behind home plate on the 100 level where you can get a nice lil’ certificate. It’s very cute and your child can use it someday to prove their credentials if there is ever a sudden influx of bandwagon Mariners fans (cough cough). Make your next stop in center field on the main concourse to sign up for the Mariners’ kids club, if you aren’t already; the kids will walk away with some form of Mariners swag, and it’s free. The play area nearby is fun but gets very busy on game days, with a long line to get in to play; it also skews younger. If you have a runner, the ramps leading up to the 300 level on the east side of the stadium are generally lower traffic and good for running, or the wide stairs connecting the pen to the main concourse are good for little climbers, and close to the Moose Den for potential moose visits.
Eric, father of two, tip: The bleachers at a not-so-crowded day game are the ideal spot for kids pretty much as soon as they can walk. Room to spread out, room for the kids to play around when they get bored or need to run off the sugar rush. If you’re taking small kids to the home opener…Godspeed, friends.
T-Mobile Park features:
If it’s your first time visiting the park, come early on a day with a night game (10:30 and 12:30) for a tour of the park, including the clubhouse, press box, and other areas of the park normally off-limits to the public. More details here. Missed the tour? Stop by the museum of Northwest baseball history on the north side of the main concourse to get your baseball learn on.
If you arrive early, take a trip down to The Pen. Not necessarily because the free-flowing beer and inability to see the field without being seven feet tall are good attributes, per se, but because it’s a great view to stand next to the bullpens and watch players warm up. It can also be a good spot to try to snag a batting practice home run.
If you noted the irony of the terrible Wi-Fi service at a stadium named for a telecomm corporation, well, you weren’t alone, and also, they’ve reportedly fixed it so you can Instagram your little heart out without having your cell phone battery completely sunk. If you do experience a loss of battery life, though, head down to the ‘pen, where you will find a variety of charging ports including some wireless ones on the bullpen rail that will get you out of the red fast.
After the game:
Sodo shuts down remarkably quickly after games, with Hooverville your best option if you’re heading south and Flatstick Pub if you’re heading north, or maybe some of the Pioneer Square bars if you’re willing to put up with crowds on busy nights and beer being spilled on your shoes. If you’re looking for more upscale cocktails, you’ll want to walk or bus up to Belltown to find good bars that are still open. Rocco’s Pizza at 2nd and Bell stays open late (2 AM) and will feed you a giant slice of pizza to silence any late-night hunger rumbles. You’ll want to Google or check social media on any late night spots, as many places either didn’t make it through the pandemic or haven’t quite gone back to before-times hours due to staffing issues.
Did we miss your favorite thing? Still got questions? Drop us a comment below!