DENVER, CO - JUNE 10: The evening light rakes across the infield as the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
For the fans, by the fans. Here is a look at the suites at Coors Field.
Coors Field has one of the most liberal food and drink policies that I have seen in any sports venue. You can walk into a Rockies game with a full rotisserie chicken complete with all the sides and a 12-pack of soda, so long as the soda is still in its factory-sealed containers. And no matter how hard I try I always get stuck behind the folks who plan on taking full advantage of this policy, having to wait in line as their bags, soft side coolers and propane stoves are searched by the gate attendants. Normally I am a very patient person, but on a recent trip to see a game I was jumping up and down, ready to burst through the gates, because I was going to be watching the game from the best possible seats. I was going to be sitting in a luxury suite.
I had been in the suites at Coors Field once before, but I spent most of that game sitting inside gambling. I have a lot of friends who would be angry at me for having wasted a great afternoon of watching baseball in a suite in favor of rolling the dice but in my defense:
1. It was the mid 2000s and the Rockies were pretty bad.
2. It was a bachelor party.
3. The Rockies were really bad.
So anyway I was excited to take in a game from the luxury boxes again and really have the focus be on the baseball experience.
At Rockies games I generally try to comport myself in a manner that coincides with the ambience of my particular section, meaning when I sit in the left field pavilion I get hammered drunk. But as far as sitting in the suites, I didn’t really know how best to act. For some reason I had a plan in mind to play it cool, act like I had been there before. I really don’t know why, I guess maybe somewhere in my head I had the idea that if people in other suites saw how cool I was and how good I was at being a guest in a suite they would want to invite me to be in their suites for future outings. That’s neither here nor there because I’m pretty sure I blew it in the first five minutes. "Playing it cool and acting like you’ve been there before" does not usually include taking pictures of hot dogs in the warming tray with your camera phone.
Sitting in the luxury boxes distances you from the game itself. That isn’t an entirely bad thing: no one will think you’re being a party pooper for not participating in the wave. On the other hand it doesn’t really foster a lot of baseball discussion. "Hey man, so when Dexter Fowler is healthy, what do they do with Charlie Blackmon? And where in the order should they put Dexter when he starts? Huh?....oh, um, that’s the Padres they’re playing."
Interesting side note: I was 10 days into a two-week "no alcohol, no soda" cleanse. Guess where my willpower fails? Pretty much when the beer is free.
If you have ever sat in one of the boxes, or looked up longingly from your crappy seats behind home plate, you’ve noticed that there are two rows of seats outside the box itself. Those seats are numbered, and each ticket does have a seat number on it. I mention this because as I was watching the first inning a woman came out and said I was sitting in her seat. At the time, there were four of us sitting in the 12 seats and no one was paying attention to which seat they were in. Clearly we were dealing with a rule follower of the highest order. My advice to you, should you be lucky enough to score some seats in the box, is to let minor things like this go. First come, first served, dude. But should someone ask you to switch seats, knocking the plate of wings out of her hands is rarely a chivalrous move. I still kind of feel bad about that.
A trip to the bathroom gave me a bit of an existential crisis. Our particular suite did not have a bathroom; I don’t know if some do like in Pepsi Center. But I had to go down the hallway to the restroom. The bathroom is nice in a bland kind of way, like a bathroom at Olive Garden. Generally you don’t have to wait in line like you would with the commoners on the main concourse—I was alone in fact. What’s interesting is the PA is piped into the bathroom, but no other sounds from the game are. At one point I was in there when the crowd is given three songs to pick from to be played between innings and the winner is the one with the loudest applause. So I heard, "Who wants to hear song No. 1?"--dead silence. "Who wants to hear song No. 2?"--dead silence. I was at a sporting event with 30,000 other people and at that moment I felt utterly alone. Not only could I not vote and influence the outcome of a song we would hear for the next two minutes, I couldn’t even hear what songs were being voted on, or how they fared against each other. I didn’t even know if songs were actually being played and voted on. What if the entire crowd had been vaporized by aliens and I was only hearing a pre-programmed voice? It was truly weird. Who knows, maybe I just wanted to hear 10 seconds of "Livin' on a Prayer" while I peed.
Back in the suite, where I was relieved to see that no one was vaporized, I treated myself to one of those hot dogs from the stainless steel warming tray. The hot dogs taste a lot like hot dogs but the buns are slightly fancier. Condiments are not in easy-to-use squeeze bottles or even pumps like the unwashed masses use at all the other concession stands (Seriously, the disdain you start to feel for any fans outside of the luxury suites while you are one of the lucky few inside them is a little unnerving). The ketchup and mustard are in little dishes with spoons. I guess this is supposed to be "nicer," but if someone can get even mustard distribution along their dog with a spoon I’d like to see it.
And therein lays the fundamental problem I had with the suites. In an effort to class up the baseball experience they take a simple thing like mustard and overthink it. Really, the same pumps they have downstairs would do just fine. Or if you want to go nicer, go with cool squeeze bottles with pictures of Rockies players on them. Scratch that, people would steal those (me). My point is, a lot of thought went into making the experience classy without putting enough thought into making the experience fun. During the middle innings most people were sitting on a couch watching the game on the TV inside the suite. At that point, why not just have this little shindig at someone’s house? Why bother even going to the actual game? Do you really like dealing with the traffic before and after the game that much?
Then something interesting happened. The wind kicked up, blowing cold, and a little rain began to fall. The commoners down below looked cold, windswept, and a little unhappy. We all went inside, closed the door and watched the game while sitting in nice warm chairs. "It looks windy at the game," someone pointed out, looking at the TV.
"Yep," I said, looking out the window.