AT&T Park in San Francisco
AT&T Park is a ballpark located in the South Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, at the corner of Third and King Streets, it has served as the home of the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball since 2000.
Originally named Pacific Bell Park, then renamed SBC Park in 2003 after SBC's acquisition of Pacific Bell, the stadium was ultimately christened AT&T Park in 2006 following SBC's merger with AT&T.
The park also hosts the annual Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a college football bowl game, and other occasional sporting and musical events. For the 2011 season, the park will serve as the home of California Golden Bears football team.
Design and construction
Originally designed to be a 42,000 seat stadium, there were slight modifications before the final design was complete. When the ballpark was brought to the ballot box in the Fall of 1996 for voter approval, the stadium was 15 degrees clockwise from its current position. Also the center-field scoreboard was atop the right-field wall and the Giants Pavilion Building were two separate buildings. Groundbreaking on the ballpark began on December 11, 1997, in the industrial waterfront area of San Francisco known as China Basin in the up and coming neighborhoods of South Beach and Mission Bay. The stadium cost $357 million to build and supplanted the Giants' former home, Candlestick Park, a multi-use stadium in southeastern San Francisco. A team of engineers from UC Davis was consulted in the design process of the park resulting in wind levels that are approximately half those at Candlestick. Fans had shivered through 40 seasons at "The 'Stick" and looked forward to warmer temperatures at the new ballpark. But because AT&T Park, like its predecessor, is built right on San Francisco Bay, cold summer fog and winter jackets in July are still not unusual at Giants games, despite the higher average temperature.
When it opened on March 31, 2000, the ballpark was the first Major League ballpark built without public funds since the completion of Dodger Stadium in 1962. However, the Giants did receive a $10 million tax abatement from The City and $80 million for upgrades to the local infrastructure (including a connection to the Muni Metro). The Giants have a 66-year lease on the 12.5 acre ballpark site, paying $1.2 million in rent annually to the San Francisco Port Commission.
Behind the scoreboard in center field there is a pier where ferries can tie up and let off fans right at the park. On game days, fans take to the water of McCovey Cove in boats and even in kayaks, often with fishing nets in the hope of collecting a home run ball. (This echoes what used to happen during McCovey's playing days. Before Candlestick Park's upper deck was extended, the area behind right field was occupied by three small bleacher sections and a lot of open space. Kids in those bleachers would gather behind the right field fence when "Stretch" would come to the plate). Just beyond the wall is a public waterfront promenade, where fans can watch three innings of a game through the wall's archways, free of charge, albeit with a somewhat obstructed view. Across the cove from the ballpark is McCovey Point and China Basin Park, featuring monuments to past Giants legends.
|List of Home Team Splash Hits|
Rusty, the Coke bottle, and the glove
When the park opened in 2000, taking residence on the right field wall was Rusty, the Mechanical Man based on a theme of Old Navy since the wall was sponsored by the company. Rusty was a two-dimensional robotic ballplayer that stood tall and weighed five and a half tons. The Valencia, California firm, Technifex, engineered, fabricated and programmed Rusty to appear after major plays, during games, as a fully animated giant 1920's era tin "toy". After technical problems arose with Rusty, it was removed from the Old Navy Splash Landing, though the enclosure that housed him remained for years. In 2006 the Old Navy sponsorship of the wall was terminated and renamed "Levi's Landing". In 2008, the enclosure was removed as that area near the right field foul pole was renovated for a new luxury party suite called the "McCovey Cove Loft".
Behind the left field bleachers is "The Coca-Cola Fan Lot". The ballpark features an 80 ft long Coca-Cola bottle with playground slides that will blow bubbles and light up with every Giants home run, and a miniature version of the stadium. "The Coca-Cola Superslide" is popular with children as is with adults, and the terraced levels of the slides is a fun way to catch the game. If one were viewing the outfield promenade from home plate, directly to the bottle's right is another oversized representation of a ballpark stalwart, the "Giant 1927 Old-Time Four-Fingered Baseball Glove" — this particular one is made of steel and fiberglass. Behind and further to the left is "The Little Giants Park" - a miniature baseball diamond — sort of a minor league tryout for Pee-Wee Ball.
To the right of the glove sculpture is the elevator and large plaza area for functions and parties to be held during games. It's also the site of "Orlando's", the concessions stand of Giants great Orlando Cepeda. The signature fare at the stand is the "Caribbean Cha Cha Bowl". Right-center field features a real San Francisco cable car (retired cable car #4, formerly #504), with a label that states "No Dodgers Fans Allowed". The fog horn — a feature introduced at Candlestick Park by the current Giants ownership group - was transferred to AT&T and hung underneath the scoreboard. It blows when a Giants player hits a home run or at the conclusion of a Giants win. Continuing right takes one to the promenade above the Cove, so that one can make a completely uninterrupted circuit of the park at that concourse level. Both levels of the concourse, inside the stadium, feature not only concession stands of all sorts, but other attractions as well.
"Lou Seal" store
The ballpark features a make-your-own-mascot store for the Giants' mascot, Lou Seal.
In addition to the automated scoreboards, which now include a new high-definition video board by Mitsubishi, the park has enormous, manually operated boards on the right field wall, which display the scores of Major League games played elsewhere. These manual scoreboards are operated by three employees, whose work on game days starts at least two hours before the first pitch.
Starting in 2004, the Giants installed one hundred twenty-two 802.11b wireless internet access points, covering all concourses and seating areas, creating one of the largest public hotspots in the world at the time.
San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame
On September 23, 2008, the Giants Wall of Fame was unveiled on the King Street side of the ballpark. Eligibility requirements for players to be on the Wall are either 5 years as a Giant with an All Star Game appearance or 9 years as a Giant. Rich Aurilia and Shawn Estes were added in 2010. In 2011, the Giants announced that pitcher Jason Schmidt and outfielder Marvin Benard would be added in an August 27, 2011 ceremony.
Outside the ballpark are five statues, four of which are dedicated to San Francisco Giants all-time greats.
The Willie Mays Statue is located in front of the ballpark entrance at 24 Willie Mays Plaza and is surrounded with 24 palm trees, in honor of his number 24 uniform, retired by the Giants. It was dedicated at noon on March 31, 2000, prior to the opening of the ballpark and was commissioned by Giants Managing Partner Peter Magowan and his wife Debby.
Another statue is located at McCovey Point across McCovey Cove, and is dedicated to Willie McCovey. Around the Willie McCovey Statue are a number of plaques that celebrate the winners of the Willie Mac Award. The statue is located at China Basin Park next to The Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field, a T-ball park. Also located on the sea wall promenade are plaques showing the Opening Day Roster of every Giants team from 1958 through 1999. Giants fans who contributed funds to China Basin Park, had their own tiles with their own inscriptions set into the wall.
A third statue, dedicated in 2005, honors former Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, and is located outside the ballpark at the Lefty O'Doul Gate entrance. The fourth statue is located at the park's ferry plaza behind center field, also known as Seals Plaza; a statue of a seal bobbing a baseball on its nose honors the memory of the San Francisco Seals, the minor league baseball club that played before the arrival of the Giants in 1958.
On September 6, 2008, during a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a fifth statue depicting former Giants great Orlando Cepeda was dedicated at the corner of 2nd and King Streets next to the ballpark. All four statues of the Giants Hall of Fame players were created by sculptor William Behrends of North Carolina.
- 49-Mile Scenic Drive