After not being able to attend a live sporting event for more than 365 days, last Friday I was finally able to walk into a stadium with actual fans. Being that many sports fans haven’t had this opportunity yet, I wanted to share my experience because it was honestly one of the best games I’ve ever attended.
How we got to this past Friday is a story that’s almost 3 years in the making. Back in 2018, as a Christmas Gift, I got my wife aka Lady Spork season tickets to the SF Giants spring training here in Scottsdale. She’s from the Bay Area and that’s her squad so knew this was the perfect gift because it was a guarantee 10-12 dates nights/days for us each year. Plus, who doesn’t like Spring Training, this was a gift for me as much as it was for her.
Our seats are awesome, we are front row down the 3rd base line, right in foul ball territory. 2019 was our first year in the seats, and the experience was perfect. We attended a majority of the games, and the ones we can’t make, we sell on Stubhub for well above face value. The best part of SF Giants spring training is the stadium is in the heart of Scottsdale so it’s by far the most popular stadium. The routine for most fans is to start at a bar, go to the game, and then back to the bar. To say Scottsdale Stadium is a party, especially on the weekends would be an understatement.
After an amazing first year with our seats, we knew year 2 was going to be a little different….but little did we know how different. You see, Lady Spork was 9 months pregnant at the start of the 2020 Spring Training season. Luckily, the season started a little earlier than in years past, and our daughter decided to come a little late which means we were able to make a couple games. Even with the seriousness of CoVid starting to grow, we assumed after our daughters birth we’d still be able to catch a couple of games, but obviously that didn’t happen. Not long after we got home from the hospital, the Spring Training season was canceled, and was quickly followed by every other event in the world.
That brings us to this past Friday which, while it was a completely different experience, it might have been the best baseball game I’ve ever attended. They say you never appreciate something until you lose it, and that it 100% the case when it comes to attending live events.
Because of Covid, the process to attend the game starts that morning. The SF Giants required us to download the Clear App in order to complete a health survey before we even arrived at the stadium. It takes about two minutes and is easily worth the effort. Honestly, there isn’t much I wouldn’t do in order to get things back to normal and sports/concerts going again. That brings us to arriving at the stadium, because of the location and popularity of the stadium, parking is normally a nightmare where you have to pay $20 for the opportunity to walk a mile. Not this year, we paid $10 to park across the street from the main entrance. Once we got to the main entrance, we simply had to show our competed Clear survey, then scan our tickets and for the first time in 365 days, we were inside a stadium.
Once inside, it was definitely a different experience that we were used to, but that was to be expected. Scottsdale Stadium is historically a party every game day with long beer lines and drunk fans everywhere you look. In our last game before the pandemic hit, we saw women using the men’s bathroom, people “feeding the birds” in bushes, and thousands of people boozing it up on the lawn as though they knew what was on the horizon. This time, it couldn’t have been more different. The Giants only allowed 25% capacity which made it feel more like a Tampa Bay Rays regular season game. There were no lines anywhere and fans were completely spread out. I think the strangest sight was an empty lawn which is usually packed. The other strange element was that there was only two concessions stands open, but again thanks to 25% capacity, there still wasn’t much of a wait. Only downside was the boring food selection. I’m pretty sure they took the menu right from a local high schools snack stand. This sucks because this ballpark is known for the huge selection of food they normally offer. They have huge concession plazas in both left and right field, but that was all closed off which I understand. But with Lady Spork being Gluten Free, food was basically a no go but luckily they still had alcohol.
There was one part of the “new normal” that I did really enjoy and it had to do with the lack of fans. Because there were so few people in the stands, you could hear every comment that people made. It was funny because you would actually see the players reaction when someone yelled something funny. You’d actually see players struggling to hide smiles when someone made a comment that was really funny.
At the end of the day, is this how I imagine my first baseball game since the birth of my daughter would go, absolutely not. But I loved every second I was at the game. I know you can’t see our smiles under our masks, but trust me, they’re there. It felt like we were getting closer to getting back to normal. I just hope that we can keep the momentum going as a society so we can get back to full capacity events.