27 degrees. Snow blanketing the field. A random late January Tuesday.
Sounds like a good time for baseball doesn’t it?
Against everything logical, it actually was. It was the day I ventured to LoDo to take a tour of Coors Field. The offseason and chilly temps weren’t a hindrance as I was one of eight people let inside the gates at 20th and Blake to get an early taste of baseball.
Despite going to dozens of games in almost every year since it opened in 1995, I had never taken a tour of one of my favorite places on the planet. I am happy I did and am now eagerly awaiting the start of the 2023 season, even if .500 ball is a rather optimistic, and at the same time depressing, goal.
No matter the temperature or time of year, Coors Field is just beautiful. The tour gives fans a chance to be out on the concourse with a small group of people, see different views you may not have before, check out the club level, wander through the visitor’s locker room and dugout, and then out onto the field if it wasn’t covered by snow.
Unfortunately, the Coors Field foxes didn’t make an appearance, but the six black wolf cutouts kept the field safe from gaggles of geese that wreak havoc on parks across the city.
It was also fun to go up to the third level and look out at seats covered in untouched snow and just appreciate the vast size of Coors Field when it’s not full of fans. The stadium is one of only four in MLB that seat over 50,000 people.
Thanks to our lovely tour guide, Jay Hahn, we were treated to an informative and enjoyable tour that lasted about 80 minutes. Along the way, we all reminisced about Eric Young blasting a homer in the Rockies first at-bat in Colorado in 1993, the Blake Street Bombers, Rocktober in 2007, the Hall of Fame entry of Larry Walker while cursing that we have to wait one more year for Todd Helton’s, and many moments of joy over the last 30 years. I also learned some great titbits of information that’s made me more excited for this season and spending more time at Coors Field.
In terms of trivia, I didn’t realize the batter’s eye is also the backdrop for the pine trees, “mountain stream,” and fountains behind center field. I have always noticed the blank spots in each stadium and wondered how in the world the space wasn’t being used to make money — by way of seats or advertising. As Hahn explained, hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in professional sports. Therefore, batters need a blank canvas behind the pitcher, free from moving fans and distracting colors to better be able to focus on the ball. Hence, the batter’s eye.
Like much of Coors Field, I would argue the Rockies have the best batter’s eye in MLB. The “forest” took shape in 1996 and the native Colorado plants and trees have been growing ever since. Baseball Essential ranks Coors Field’s batter’s eye at No. 6. The PNC Park has Pirates landscaped into a 3D green beauty, Citi Field has a Big Apple that pops up after homers (not as cool as fountains), and the Phillies have vines over brick (copycats), but most teams just have blank space.
For bonus trivia, solar panels rest atop the batter’s eye, powering two scoreboards in the outfield. The 46 panels generate 14,000-kilowatt hours of energy, according to a Sunpower press release, which also stated that when the panels were installed to celebrate Earth Day in 2007, Coors Field became the first MLB stadium to use solar power.
In terms of practical knowledge gained that I’ll use to benefit my fan experience this season, I learned all about the Mountain Ranch Club. During the tour, we got to explore the restaurant, despite the rest of the suite level being closed for renovations. I’ve always admired the green windows in foul territory down the right field line, but had never been there.
As a fan used to the third level, the left field pavilion, and even the rockpile, I figured my ability to get into the Mountain Ranch Club was about the same as hanging out in the Monforts’ ownership suite.
Thanks to Hahn and the Coors Field tour, now I know anyone with a ticket to a game can stop in for a beverage. While you can buy pricey Mountain Ranch Club plans for the season, 20 games, or even one game, if you want to eat there, it just takes a highly recommended reservation that you can make up to two days before the homestand starts, along with the purchase of the unlimited buffet ($30 per adult, $17 for kids 3-12). There are two slots: when the gates open 1½ hour before the game or at first pitch. After years of games at Coors Field, I am going to make my Mountain Ranch Club debut in 2023.
The tour is well worth the $18, which goes to the Colorado Rockies Foundation (and then to local organizations and baseball programs). And, after two days of single-degree temperatures, 27 degrees didn’t even feel too bad as the Colorado sunshine was in full attendance. Hopefully, it will be a little warmer and the snow will actually be melted in 62 days when the Rockies host their Home Opener on April 6 vs. the Nationals.
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Spring training is revived and well | Purple Row
If seeing pictures and thinking about Coors Field isn’t enough to get you excited about the 2023 season, then check out Justin Wick’s article about how spring training is on track to be back and better than ever. Not only will it be returning to normal this year, but there will be the added excitement of the World Baseball Classic and the Rockies playing an exhibition game against Team Mexico. Baseball is almost here. It’s a beautiful thing. If you are thinking about heading to Arizona, Justin has some tips and ideal series to try to catch.
MLB farm system rankings: Keith Law ranks all 30 teams on prospects, Dodgers stay No. 1 | The Athletic ($)
Keith Law puts the Rockies at No. 12 in his farm system ranking, saying that having five players from the Colorado organization in his top 100 (No. 54 OF Zac Veen, No. 69 SS Ezequiel Tovar, No. 79 OF Benny Montgomery, No. 90 3B Warming Bernabel, and No. 98 SS Adael Amador) is the most he’s seen from the franchise; plus Drew Romo is on the fringe. Outside of the Dodgers at the top, the NL West also has Arizona at No. 4, but at least Law has the Rockies ahead of the Yankees (No. 14), which has to count for something.
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