New season, new stuff (OK, mostly food)
The Giants held their annual media open house Wednesday, unveiling some upgrades to the ballpark and highlighting promotions and special events slated for the upcoming season. Of course, the big attractions as usual were the food offerings, as AT&T Park continues to find new ways of expanding fans’ waistlines in all sorts of delicious manners.
First, in non-food-related news, perhaps the most visible change to the ballpark will be out next to the Coca-Cola Fan Lot (where the Coke bottle, incidentally, will have a fresh paint job in honor of a seven-year extension of the soda company’s partnership with the Giants).
Gone is the Build-A-Bear Workshop and in its place will be a new social media center, which “will display social chatter of Giants fans in real time including tweets, photos from Instagram and polls from Facebook, all in real time.” The center, which will be named during its grand opening, will also feature a Peet’s Coffee Bar.
Also notable on the Promenade level: The From the Clubhouse shop, where fans can buy authenticated and game-used items, has been relocated and expanded to a spot right where fans enter the concourse off the ramp inside Willie Mays Gate. Nearby is a newly expanded ticket office and a large new walk-in Guest Services center, next to the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand.
The Giants will continue to lead the Majors in cool giveaways, which are listed here and include many World Series champions items, three bobbleheads, two gnomes and Giants announcers bottle stoppers.
The special events calendar also is packed, with highlights including Metallica Night, Elvis Presley Night and Until There’s a Cure Day featuring a Rod Beck bobblehead. A personal favorite: On Social Media Night (July 26), the Giants will recognize an idea posted to the McCovey Chronicles blog and give away a Marco Scutaro rain globe, in tribute to Scutaro’s legendary pose in the rain during the NLCS-clinching game. Both the fan who posted the idea to McC and the blogger who runs it will be included in the night’s events.
Remember that all special events require a special ticket in order to receive the giveaway item and participate in pregame parties.
Lots of sponsorship news, including Coca-Cola partnering with the Giants for a “Salute to the Military” program and Mumm Napa releasing two new Giants-branded sparkling wines. Fans will also be happy to hear the ballpark will have more than double the number of WiFi access points this season, as well as the addition of more than 400 mobile charging points.
But let’s get to what draws the most attention: the ballpark food. Pop-up bistros will appear at AT&T Park, and they’ll only be advertised on the @sfgiantfoodie Twitter feed, a la food trucks.
The list of new and featured stands, kiosks, carts and offerings is long, so I’ll paste it in directly at the bottom, after a selection of photos from the media open house. Keep in mind that the portion sizes shown here are much smaller than normal, since we’re sampling a wide range of offerings.
Poutine fries (fries with brown gravy and white cheddar cheese — alas, not traditional cheese curds)
SF Giant roll from Mashi’s Sushi.
Lamb burger from Murph’s Pub, Idaho Russet potatoes and buttery mashed potatoes from the Emerald Isle Potato Bar.
Original Joe’s burgers will be available at the Derby Grill Specialty Burger Stand on the Promenade level in left field. (The burgers were cut into very tiny pieces, so not photogenic.)
Giuseppe Bazurro’s popular Greek salad and chicken Caesar are now available as wraps.
Here’s the full food rundown from the press materials:
Promenade & View Levels
Vintage 58: A new wine bar with an exclusive location behind home plate on the Promenade Level featuring tasting room décor and offering selected varietals from various regions.
McCovey’s BBQ Restaurant Kiosk: A new location for McCovey’s tasty BBQ at the top of O’Doul’s Gate featuring pulled pork nachos.
Say Hey Sausage Kiosk: A new portable kiosk on the Promenade Level featuring a variety of specialty sausages including Atomic Hot & Half Pound Polish kielbasa sausage and Bavarian Pretzels.
Chicago Dog Cart: Located directly behind home plate on the Promenade Level featuring the Original Chicago Dog with all the authentic toppings.
Lefty O’Doul’s Bar: Another San Francisco icon joins the team at AT&T Park. This satellite location of the historic Lefty O’Doul’s bar located at Union Square, features their famous Bloody Mary mix, specialty cocktails and is located at the top of the O’Doul Gate.
Original Joe’s Burger: The Derby Grill Specialty Burger Stand located on the Promenade Level in Left Field, will feature the exact recipe of the iconic Original Joe’s burger.
Other new Items found throughout the ballpark: Pannini sandwiches, Poutine Fries — French fries smothered with beef gravy & white cheddar; Mumm’s Sparkling Wine; Carmel topped Ghirardelli hot cocoa; and field roast artesian vegetarian sausages.
Field Club & Virgin America Club Levels
Pop Ups: Playing on the popularity of mobile food carts, pop-up bistros will be advertised only via the @sfgiantfoodie Twitter feed. #GiantPopUp will feature treats not currently available at the ballpark, including made-to-order hot pastrami sandwiches and knish, oysters on the half shell, hot apple cider and warm turnovers filled with Frog Hollow Farms fruit preserves.
Ferry Terminal Seafood: In partnership with Ferry Terminal Seafood, the new Club Level seafood cart located near the Carvery and Section 234 will offer up such favorites as New England and Manhattan clam chowder, shrimp and crab Louis, seafood cocktails, and freshly baked sourdough bread. Still and sparkling wine by the glass.
Emerald Isle Potato Bar: A baked potato concept located next to Murph’s Pub on the Club Level. Like Long Taters, Emerald Isle will feature extra-large baked Idaho potatoes and buttery mashed potatoes with an array of classic toppings.
Farmer’s Market: A brand-new look for the Farmer’s Market, located on the Club Level. The mercantile offers locally grown produce, fresh fruit aguas frescas, strawberry shortcake, seasonal pies and gelato. Indulge a savory appetite with seasonal vegetable antipasti and a wine bar specializing in sustainable and locally crafted wines both on tap and from the bottle.
Joe Garcia’s: New items available at Joe Garcia’s include: Crisp griddled gorditas topped with a house pickled cabbage and jalapeno slaw; Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries; and a Burrito Bowl featuring char grilled chicken, ancho chile rubbed skirt steak, carnitas or chile lime marinated white fish served with Spanish rice and topped with classic burrito fillings.
Guiseppi Barzurro’s: New items available at Guiseppi Barzurro’s include the favorite Greek and chicken Caesar salads available in wraps and a Grilled Eggplant Sandwich featuring balsamic, thyme and garlic marinated eggplant grilled and topped with roasted red bell peppers, goat cheese, salsa verde and baby arugula on a baguettini.
Mashi’s Sushi: New items available at Mashi’s Sushi include SF “Giant” Roll-ahi tuna, avocado, bok choy, shiso, green onion, fried tofu and scichimi aioli create one giant roll; Sashimi Bowls with ahi tuna or arctic char garnished with shiso and mayo with a choice of brown or white rice; and Tofu and Bok Choy in a lemon-grass green curry topped with ice peppers served over brown or white rice.
Murph’s Pub: The Irish Lamburger served with Guinness caramelized onions and Irish Cheddar will be a new item on the popular menu.
Krukow may remind fans to bring their gloves, but it’s fair to say they should also bring their appetites.
New season, new look
We’re back! The Giants‘ annual media open house had so much interesting stuff, I just had to share it, and that seems like as good of an excuse as any to revive this too-long-dormant MLBlog.
The media open house is an annual event the Giants hold where they invite — duh — the media to learn about AT&T Park improvements, promotions, marketing campaigns and food items that will be prominent in the upcoming season. The event is usually held on the field and in the Field Club, but this year, it was moved to the club level.
Make that the Virgin America Club level. Thanks to an expanded partnership with the San Francisco-based airline, the club level has been rebranded as the Virgin America Club. Flight attendants greeted the media as we went up the escalator to the club level, and the new look of the escalator trumpeted the partnership in a big way. Yep, that’s a mockup of the inside of a Virgin America plane, featuring their signature mood lighting. The lighting (purples, grays, reds) is subtly repeated in various areas of the club level itself.
The Virgin America sponsorship also includes the introduction of “Fly Bye Baby,” the newest member of the Virgin America fleet. It’s an Airbus A320, and Giants games and feature programming will be featured on Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment system. See a photo of the beard-wearing plane here.
The club level also includes the Virgin America Flight Deck, which the Giants describe as a “hip, outdoor club-like environment” behind sections 229-230, overlooking Second and King streets (it’s the same location where Switchfoot performed last year). It will include new seating, the Widmer Brothers Fan Haus bar and two fire pits surrounded by wind screens to create a more protected fan environment.
After covering promotions (including four bobbleheads, two gnomes and two World Series team reunions) and the new commercials, the Giants discussed major capital improvements to the ballpark. First and foremost, the goal with the offseason renovations has been to enhance views, improve traffic flow and create a more open feeling overall. It’s noticeable right away in the main Promenade level concourses.
The overhead hanging signs have all been removed, and the lighting has been improved. They’ve also moved all the food carts wedged behind the lower bowl seating to the opposite side of the concourse, mostly in new nooks created along the outer wall.
It wouldn’t be media day without some bathrooms news, and restrooms along the Promenade level have been reconfigured, with the left-field one getting additional capacity.
A new men’s room behind section 132-133 has what the Giants are calling “Northern California’s best view from a public bathroom,” looking out to the Bay Bridge (and another larger window overlooks MoMo’s, but don’t worry — they’re pretty high up in the wall).
The Bullpen Box, a premium group seating area next to the visitors dugout, is being turned into the Corona Beach Club. It’ll include a small sandy beach, two Adirondack chairs and other beach-themed amenities.
As you may have read previously, another notable change is coming down the left-field line, where the congested narrow bridge near the Coca-Cola Fan Lot is being replaced with a new area spanning the entire width of the Fan Lot. It’s called Ghirardelli Square South and will include a Ghirardelli location plus a full concession stand that will include garlic fries and (I’m told) the popular Sheboygan brats.
Little Giants Park, the mini ballpark in the Fan Lot, is also being renovated to open up the views toward the Bay Bridge and to add a padded left-field wall just like the real park.
Out behind the scoreboard, the upper concessions area has been dubbed Anchor Plaza and will include an Anchor Brewery Tap Room kiosk. We were told that more Anchor Steam beer is sold at AT&T Park than any other location in the world.
Finally, media day wouldn’t be complete without a whole lot of food. Seriously, I think some media members attend the open house just for the food offerings. Some of these are new items; others will be available in new locations. Here’s a sampling (note that many of these selections are presented in mini sizes just for media day, since there are so many choices available):
New seating area opens
Over the past 10 years, the Giants have added a number of additional seating spaces at AT&T Park, including the Dugout and Lexus Box seats behind home plate, the Legends Club in the left-field corner of the Club level, the Bullpen boxes between the dugouts and bullpens, and the Virgin America Loft in the right-field Arcade wall.
But those have all required group bookings, which can be out of reach for a number of fans. Starting with Monday’s homestand opener, however, there’s a new seating area available for the cost of a single-game ticket: the Coors Light Deck.
That won’t be its name for long — KNBR is sponsoring a contest to rename it — but you can find it listed in the ticketing system for the upcoming week under the name “Coors Light Cold Zone.” The area is located in right-center field on the Promenade level, right next to the cable car.
For the price of an Arcade ticket, you can get one of approximately 40 tickets to the
deck, which features 20 premium padded seats lining the wall overlooking the field. The seats are each adorned with the name and number of a Giants legend, from Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey to Duane Kuiper and Kirk Rueter. Behind the seats is a deck area that features two Coors Light beer stands.
As someone who had season tickets in the Arcade for years, I can tell you that the location of this seating area is fantastic for both watching the game and for amenities. Express restrooms (so named because they’re underused and thus never crowded) are located right under the scoreboard area, just a staircase away from the Coors Light Deck seats.
Also under the scoreboard are some of the best concession stands in the ballpark, including a Ghirardelli sundae stand, a Gilroy Garlic Fries stand, Stormin’ Norman’s Fabulous Frybreads (like a funnel cake but a thousand times better) and the legendary Big Guy’s BBQ. Immediately behind the scoreboard, on the Promenade level, is a food court-ish area that includes Crazy Crab sandwiches and the world-famous (or should be) Cha-Cha Bowls.
And it’s a snap to exit (or enter) the ballpark through the less-used Marina Gate, which is closest to the new seating area. Take the ferry to the game and you’ll be dropped off right at that gate.
A sneak peek
(Administrative note: After having to give up early last season, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with blogging about ballpark happenings this season, but I’m going to try.)
Wednesday was the annual media open house at AT&T Park, where the Giants discuss what exciting things are planned for the upcoming season (beyond the guys in uniforms throwing a ball around).
Opening Weekend kicks off April 9 with Opening Day vs. the Braves. San Francisco’s own Matt Nathanson will perform the national anthem (seriously, if you don’t know this guy, go download “Come On Get Higher” RIGHT NOW) and the first pitch will be thrown out by a mystery San Francisco sports legend. Toss out your guesses on Twitter (address to @sfgiants or tag it #sfgiants), and no, it’s not Barry Bonds.
But speaking of Bonds, he’ll be at AT&T Park on April 11 as part of the 10th anniversary of the first regular-season game played at the yard. Other guests from that 2000 National League West championship team include Rich Aurilia, Marvin Bernard, Ellis Burks, Felipe Crespo, Bobby Estalella, Shawn Estes, Aaron Fultz, Mark Gardner, Jeff Kent, Ramon Martinez, Bill Mueller, Robb Nen, Armando Rios, Kirk Rueter and J.T. Snow.
The night before that, Tim Lincecum will be honored for winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award, with postgame fireworks also planned.
Here’s a sampling of some of the giveaways planned this year:
Six bobblehead giveaways include this awesome Willie Mays “The Catch” bobblehead on May 16 (the Giants started the bobblehead craze with a Mays bobblehead back in the ’90s):
An Orange and Black Attack team member shows off the skateboard deck to be given away May 30:
Another Orange and Black Attack member models the “wearable blanket” being given away April 23:
This next one isn’t a giveaway, but it’s sure to be popular — Tim Lincecum wigs will be sold at the ballpark. Here, senior vice president Mario Alioto models the wig with both a Giants cap and with Lincecum’s preferred headwear, a beanie:
The highlight of media day (at least for the media) is a sampling of some of the new and returning food items offered at the ballpark. Some of the new comestibles include cheesesteaks, a caprese sandwich, a classic grilled Reuben, a Columbus St. Combo, a Lettieri Family Italian beef sandwich, a potato bar, sushi bar and grilled kabobs.
A new party area is coming to the park — the Coors Light Deck out in right-center (near the flagpoles and the cable car). Watch the video below to learn more about this space:
And finally, I leave you with a photo of the new Guest Services uniforms. Much cooler than the old green and beige numbers:
“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.