“Welcome back” — that’s what the ballpark sound system was playing as fans entered AT&T Park for tonight’s exhibition game against the Mariners, the first time the Giants have played at home this year.
One of the more noticeable differences tonight is the absence of PA announcer Renel Brooks-Moon, but it’s for a very good reason: Renel has been selected to be the ballpark announcer for Saturday’s Civil Rights Game in Memphis, Tenn. This is a huge honor for Renel, who hopes to be back in time for Sunday’s exhibition finale vs. the A’s.
Yesterday, the Giants held their annual media open house, the highlight of which — other than the eagerly anticipated sampling of new ballpark food, which included a phenomenal catfish po boy sandwich from McCovey’s Restaurant — involved the two new luxury suites being built at the ballpark. The Legends Club, located in the left-field corner of the Club level just below the retired number plaques, is a large, all-inclusive entertainment space that can hold up to 120 people.
The other suite, the McCovey Cove Loft, is a quirky addition, a 40-person space built into the right-field wall. Fans who sit in Section 150 of the Arcade are probably very happy to note that the “shed” originally constructed to house Rusty, the reviled mechanical man who used to appear at the park, is gone, no longer obstructing right-field views. In the shed’s place is the opening for the McCovey Cove Loft, which sits just to the right of where the out-of-town scoreboard crew does its work.
Also new this season will be added food offerings on the View Level, including another outlet of the very popular Orlando’s Caribbean Barbecue (home of the famous Cha-Cha Bowl) and a carvery station. They’ve also installed a glass wind screen along the top of the outer wall, along with a drink rail, so fans wanting to check out the magnificent city and bay views from the View Level concourse will be more comfortable.
Some other cool things on tap for the ballpark this season:
* If you bring your wireless-enabled device to the park this year, you’ll be able to get instant replays on the in-house WiFi network. Wireless food ordering is coming soon.
* The View Level will have a timeline display of photos from the last 50 years of Giants baseball, and 16 new display cases on the Promenade and View levels will showcase Giants jerseys from 1951 to today.
* On the streets around the ballpark, the light-pole banners feature a pretty neat advertising campaign centered around the “Gamer” theme the Giants are using this season. My favorite is the one for catcher Bengie Molina, which says “Stands in front of freight trains — Bengie is a gamer.”
Some photos of stuff from the media open house are available here.