Being able to spend three days in Denver meant that I’d not only have a chance to take in three Colorado Rockies games, but that I’d also be able to take a guided tour of Coors Field on the middle day of my visit.
That meant that a little more than 12 hours after I walked out of the ballpark following my first visit, I was heading back to Coors Field for a tour. My usual travel schedule doesn’t always allow time for booking tours — in fact, Coors Field is only the third MLB park that I’ve officially toured. (If you’re interested, here are the recaps of my Oriole Park at Camden Yards tour in 2011 and my Fenway Park tour in 2012.)
The walk from my downtown hotel to the ballpark took less than 10 minutes, which meant that just a short while after leaving my room, I’d bought my tour ticket at the ticket office and was hanging out here:
As the above image shows, there wasn’t much going on around Coors Field, and that suited me just fine. It’s cool to simply be at the ballpark, and arriving early gave me a chance to walk around the exterior and scout out some areas that I hadn’t seen a day earlier. I began by checking out the area just west of the ballpark, and came across this cool diamond made of bricks. If you look carefully, the words to “Take me out to the ballgame” are engraved on bricks around the perimeter:
There was absolutely no one around, which made it feel as though I had the entire area to myself — and if you read this blog regularly, you’ll surmise that I was more than giddy with this idea. I spent the next 45 or so minutes walking around the area and checking out Coors Field from various angles, before returning to the main gates to wait for the start of my tour. As I waited, I sat on a small ledge next to an engraved brick commemorating Coors Field’s very first opening day in 1995, and snapped this photo that I uploaded to Instagram:
When the tour began, our guide led us to the top row of the seats in the lower bowl to give a brief history of the stadium and an overview of the plans for the tour. While he talked, I snapped this photo of the field:
Before we continued along the concourse, I saw MLB Network insider and longtime baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby emerge from the home dugout to do a spot with the network. He’s pretty easy to spot with his cowboy hat:
It’s always a thrill to be inside a ballpark when it’s nearly empty. Although there were lots of staff members preparing the park for that evening’s game, the tranquility of the environment is always something that I enjoy.
Our first notable stop was The Rooftop, which I’d checked out briefly the night before but was excited to see again. The following shot gives you an idea of just how high you are in this area:
Next, our guide (who was excellent) pointed out the row of purple seats that runs through the upper third of the upper deck. It wasn’t something that I’d noticed a day earlier, so I was glad to have my attention brought to it, as well as to understand what it represents:
Any guesses? That row is exactly one mile above sea level. As you likely know, Denver is often called the Mile High City, so it was neat to see the exact mark at which you’re a mile above sea level. We didn’t go visit that row during the tour, but if you know me, you’ll know that I made a point of checking it out when I was at the ballpark later that night.
The purple seats aren’t the only seats at Coors Field that don’t match those around them. From our vantage point up on The Rooftop, our guide pointed out the four red seats at field level that make up the Coca-Cola front row area …
… and the two Coors Light “Silver Bullet” seats in the 10th row behind the visitor’s dugout:
Our next stop was the suite level, where we checked out a number of spots. Here’s a dining area for suite members:
And a view from the outdoor seats of one of the suites that we visited:
From the suite, we had a great view of the batter’s eye and natural vegetation area that I’d enjoyed seeing a day earlier. The fountains were currently turned off, but our guide told us a funny story — when the fountains and the bullpens were put in, the team’s management opted to position the visiting team’s bullpen immediately adjacent to the fountains, as you can see here:
Why? Well, the prevailing winds blow from left field to right field, which means that some of the spray from the fountains gets blown on the visiting team’s bullpen — not very appealing during an April or September evening game, as you might imagine. You’ll notice that the Rockies bullpen in the above image is tucked well out of the way on the right.
Next, our tour took us past a Todd Helton display …
… through a series of upscale hallways …
… and finally, to the Coors Field press box. It’s always a thrill to visit any ballpark’s press box, and I find that whether it’s a short-season club or a big league club, the press area just feels like a special place. During games, it’s a beehive of activity. When we visited, though, the area was mostly quiet. As our guide talked, I took a spot in the front row of seats to enjoy this perfect view of Coors Field:
You can see a lot of Coors Field’s features in the above shot. The outfield concession stands, where I’d bought my ribs and chocolate-dipped bacon the night before, are seen stretching from the left field foul pole to beneath the red “King Soopers” sign next to the video board. The Rockpile section is the elevated section beyond straightaway center, while The Rooftop is high up in right-center field.
Here’s a cool behind-the-scenes item from the press box — this is Tracy Ringolsby’s laptop computer:
Ringolsby came and went as we sat in the press box. During this time, one of the members of our tour group (a loud-mouthed guy who had to offer a comment on virtually every point our guide made from the start of the tour to the end) went over and introduced himself to the scribe, only to be quickly reprimanded by our guide and reminded of the rule he’d stressed when we entered the room a few minutes earlier — this is a working press area and no one using it is to be disturbed.
As you can imagine (although you’ve probably never thought about it) the idea of powering a stadium has to be a huge infrastructure undertaking. And, as such, there are miles of cables strewn about the stadium. I looked overhead before we left the press box and noticed this housing with cable after cable neatly laid out. I snapped the following photo not only because it looked interesting …
… but also because it reminded me of this photo I took when I toured the press box at Camden Yards in 2011.
From the press box, we went down below Coors Field to see some more behind-the-scenes stuff. Tours never go into the home clubhouse, but you can get into the visitor’s clubhouse if there’s no game that day. Of course, with a game scheduled that night, we weren’t allowed into the visitor’s clubhouse, either. So, you’ll have to settle for a shot right outside the Rockies clubhouse:
(For the record, I did press my eye against the tiny crack between the two doors and I could see a few players walking back and forth inside the clubhouse. I didn’t hold that pose for long, though, so as to avoid having my face caved in by a rapidly opening door.)
Before we headed to the last (and best) part of our tour, I noticed a locked door with this sign on the outside:
It made me wonder just how much tape the Rockies go through.
The tour concluded on the field, and we had a handful of minutes to walk around the warning track behind home plate and even sit in the visitor’s dugout. Although I’ve been lucky to be on the field at a handful of MLB (and a bunch more MiLB) parks, this is always one of my very favorite experiences. Just feeling and hearing the crunch of the warning track beneath my feet is something that will never get old. Here’s the view from directly behind the team’s logo painted on the grass behind home plate:
And here’s yours truly from that same spot:
Before our time ran out, I had a chance to sit in the visitor’s dugout for a few minutes:
And also hang out here:
I can’t recommend the Coors Field tour enough. The tour lasts about 80 minutes, and is just $8 for adults for this upcoming season. Of course, by the time the tour wrapped up, I was already anticipating that evening’s game — and I’ll have that blog post published very soon.