While the home of the Mariners is officially 20 years old, it has a much newer ballpark name: The stadium formerly known as Safeco Field is now T-Mobile Park. But it’s still the same park the Mariners have played in since it opened in 1999—and the only home the Mariners have been able to call their own. The team’s only previous stadium was the Kingdome, which was woefully inadequate, better-suited for Seattle Seahawks football.
To get you ready for another season of Mariners baseball, here’s our full guide to get you started—including how to get there, where to eat, where to sit, and what to explore.
Getting to T-Mobile Park
First thing’s first: Do not drive to T-Mobile Park. Nothing will seize up Seattle weekend traffic like a sporting event, and driving to the game puts you right in the thick of it. If you must, be prepared to pay out the nose for parking (at least $20 and up to $60, and that’s just the official garages), or be prepared to pull over outside the neighborhood and take another mode of transportation in.
“If you are going south after the game, park south of the stadium,” tips Mariners fan Zach Wurtz. “If north—park north. Trying to pass the stadium after a game lets out can add 30-plus minutes to go five blocks.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of options that do not require using up your entire gas tank circling and your whole vocabulary of swears yelling.
Taking transit to T-Mobile Park
Your best option for getting to the stadium is going to be Link Light Rail. The stadium station is built for the park and Centurylink Field, but involves a weird, winding overpass—the International District station will work just as well (and is closer to better dining options in advance of the game). You can buy an all-day pass for the cost of two one-way fares, which will save you time boarding on the way back.
If light rail’s not an option, there are so many buses that can get you to the stadiums. The southbound 21, 116, 118, 119, 131, and 132 stop on Edgar Martinez Drive right next to the park. The northbound 5, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 29, 33, 37, 116, 118, 119, 124, 131, 132, 150, 177, 178, and 190 stop at Royal Brougham just north of the park. Up in the Sodo Busway, right by the stadium station, there are so many buses to serve you: The 101, 102, 150, 177, 178, 190, 590, 594, and 595 northbound, or the southbound 5, 11, 101, 102, 150, 177, 178, 190, 590, or 594. The Mariners have even created a handy transit map.
If you’re coming from the suburbs, there’s always the Sounder commuter train—which makes special trips for certain Mariners games.
If none of those buses or trains work, the stadium’s pretty reasonable walking distance from the plentiful bus stops of downtown and Pioneer Square, perhaps even closer than one would be able to park. The First Hill Streetcar also gets closeby, with stops in the International District and Pioneer Square.
Biking to T-Mobile Park
Biking to the stadium may seem overwhelming and not super secure—but there’s actually garage bike parking in a bike cage near the security booth in the south parking garage.
The good bike parking is hidden inside the garage on the south side of the stadium. Just bike into the entrance and you’ll see a cage filled with bike racks to lock to. It’s within view of the security booth, which is nice.— Seattle Bike Blog (@seabikeblog) March 27, 2019
What to do around T-Mobile Park
One reason we recommend taking the train to the International District station and not the stadium station: The International District station has more stuff around it, and it’s going to be better, less expensive, and less crowded than the nearby Pioneer Square establishments, many of which were basically built for loud and overpriced pregaming.
First, there’s plenty to explore up here. Try the Pinball Museum or the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, or perhaps the recently revamped Hing Hay Park or the lesser-known Kobe Terrace.
Then, snacks: Asian supermarket Uwajima is a great place to grab a snack before the game. The ID is home of many of the region’s masters of the banh mi sandwich. Honestly, you can pretty much take your pick of any restaurant up around here. Plus, you can take your food (not your drink!) from the ID into the stadium, which we’ll get to in a bit.
As for bars: classic dive Joe’s Bar and Grill can set you up with fried food, beer, and pull tabs. Fort St. George is a sit-down spot with a selection of both deep-fried Japanese food and Western items like spaghetti. Venus Karaoke is a classic rent-a-booth joint.
Bag rules, pet rules, and security
One important thing to remember: There’s no re-entry to the park. But fortunately, MLB bag rules aren’t as strict as NFL bag rules. Here’s what you need to follow:
- Purses and backpacks need to be smaller than 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches.
- Sealed, plastic water bottles need to be under 32 ounces. If you’re bringing your own water bottle, just make sure it’s empty (or be prepared to dump it out at the gate).
- No selfie sticks.
- No professional or otherwise giant camera rigs.
- None of the general common-sense stuff: flammable things, weapons, outside alcohol, drones, hoverboards, etc.
As for pets: Only service animals are allowed most nights, but you can bring your pup along (in a special section only) on Bark at the Park night.
Where to sit
Pretty much anywhere in the stadium has a good view, although be advised that in the center field bleachers, you won’t have a great view of the big screen. Otherwise, the stadium actually has great views from the 300 level, and seats are cheap up there—$15 on value nights and as little as $17 for weekday games. The first base side has great downtown views, too.
The 300s near the foul poles aren't bad either. And of course the all-inclusive Diamond Club is great if you want to be a big spender / can get a client or your bank or something to take you / find a cheapish seat last minute when a shitty team is in town.— Brittney Bush Bollay (@BrittneyBush) March 27, 2019
In a way, though, it doesn’t matter where you sit, since there are little patios and beer gardens everywhere—like the ‘Pen, which we go over in detail below. Other nooks, Wurtz tells us, include “the stairs in center field, the patio on the third-base side at the end of the 300 level, in left field near [the Dave Niehaus] statue.”
Buy the cheapest seats and then hang out in the beer garden the whole time. It's the only way I've done it.— Michelle Loprieno (@mloprieno) March 27, 2019
Edgar’s Porch used to be a favorite vantage point, but it’s been converted into a private event space.
If you’re going to want to sit near an all-gender restroom, they’re located in sections 105, 120, 234, 319, 327 and 333.
Where to eat
First: You can totally bring in your own food. As we mentioned above, the ID is a wonderful place to forage before heading inside, although our sibling blog Eater has a more broad guide to restaurants around the stadiums. If you’re looking for a quick bite outside the stadium, there are plenty of food trucks lined up on Occidental between T-Mobile Park and Centurylink Field, including, often, popular taco truck El Camión (plus hot dogs and peanuts, naturally).
my only real tip is to walk down Occidental on the north side of the stadium and get food from El Camion or one of the hot dog trucks on your way in. and for god's sake, take the light rail or bus, trying to drive downtown postgame is hellish— Reuben Poling (@liesandperfidy) March 27, 2019
Although, strangely, the stadium that lets you bring your food in is also has the best food options out of any stadium in Seattle. They are almost comically good, and prioritize local favorites over the typical food-court nonsense. You will not believe you are in a stadium.
Our sibling blog Eater Seattle, again, has a giant guide to eating inside T-Mobile Park. But we have some more general guidance, too. Hit it Here Cafe has first-come, first-served seating and a wide selection of local eats curated by local restaurateur Ethan Stowell. Section 132 has a small enclave of great food options—including Frozen Rope Sandwich Company, an ice cream sandwich place (“buy your ice cream sandwiches early as the line fills up the later the game goes,” said Wurtz). The ‘Pen, which we go over in more detail below, is also kind of a one-stop shop for local favorites, including Ballard Pizza Company, Li’l Woody’s, Shug’s, and Fat’s Chicken.
If you just want a box of food to bring to your seat, you can sometimes find charcuterie and hummus boxes at The Natural.
My favorite "secret" concessions are the charcuterie and hummus boxes at The Natural behind home plate. (Hopefully it's still there this year. They change the concessions a bit every season.) Also the pizza in the Pen is 1000x better than the pizza everywhere else.— Brittney Bush Bollay (@BrittneyBush) March 27, 2019
Where to eat vegetarian and vegan food
For that classic hot dog experience, hit The Natural for a veggie dog—which is nearby a stand with the standard toppings. Outside of hot dogs: Paseo serves its iconic tofu sandwich. Li’l Woody’s serves a veggie burger. Ballard Pizza Company has meat-free options. Din Tai Fung has you covered with a veggie bao bun.
Where to eat gluten-free food
The little back alcove where The Natural is will be your main source of gluten-free eats—The Natural, which will serve up a gluten-free hot dog, and Hiroshi’s Sushi.
On the first level near section 132 there is this, sorta hidden behind other things area, that is a secret gluten free oasis. You will find The Natural which has gluten free hot dogs and even things like salads and fruit cups and kombucha. Also in this area is Hiroshi's Sushi.— Jonny H (@DJJonnyH) March 28, 2019
Where to drink
Again, T-Mobile Park isn’t your typical stadium—since its Safeco Field days it has fully stocked local, craft beers throughout, from little beer stands to food-service destinations. You can find a good drink pretty much anywhere, although everyone has their favorite beers and, subsequently, their favorite beer stand.
The mini-donut stand one floor down from the Terrace Club (right next to the escalator) has cheap-ish 24 oz. beers and there’s rarely a line. I like to pay close attention to the games, so speedy beer runs are a must.— I. Hernandez (@Hernando_206) March 27, 2019
Best beer stand is behind section 330 (upper deck, behind home plate). Best selection of bottles and cans in the stadium.— Chris Mobley (@chrislmobley) March 27, 2019
For happy hour and liquor, though, you’ll have to head to the ‘Pen (below). For those looking for a sweet treat, Shug’s Soda Fountain and Ice Cream on the main level will serve you a prosecco float with a scoop of Lopez Island ice cream, and the Frozen Rope Sandwich Company has a boozy root beer float available.
Where to stay booze-free
There are plenty of reasons to want to avoid any boozing—or boozers—at the game. The “family section,” which is not limited to families, is in NA104.
People have mixed feelings about the ‘Pen, a kind of boozy food court right next to the bullpen (hence the name). Some say it’s a little bit of a frat party. Some say it’s a great place to gather beforehand and get a view of the game—and since it opens two and a half hours before the game starts, it’s a more interesting place to be than in your seat.
We asked prominent local baseball fan Brittney Bush Bollay about how to navigate the ‘Pen. First, she says, it’s best to get to the ‘Pen right as it opens. “Lineups can be long on bobblehead or other giveaway nights, but usually it doesn’t take long to get in and isn’t crowded that early,” says Bollay. “I like to stand by the bullpen and watch the pitchers warm up—and this is a decent chance to get a ball and/or an autograph from them.”
As for the ‘Pen’s rowdy reputation, it can be well-earned, but Bollay says it’s tolerable. “It’s definitely not the place to stand if you really want to pay attention to the game,” she said. But there’s a happy hour not available in the rest of the stadium, and it serves liquor, too.
Bollay suggests hanging out along the bullpen railings or around the fire pit—”my absolute favorite place to pre-game on chilly early- and late-season days.”
Coming to T-Mobile Park with kids
The Mariners have made a pretty big effort to have plenty of family amenities: There are two play areas, one on the main level and another on the 300 level. The main one, the Seattle Children’s Hospital Playfield, has kids’ meals for sale nearby. The 300-level one, Lookout Landing details, is more of a wiffle ball batting cage. While the play areas don’t have a view of the game, they do show it on TVs. There’s also a nursing room near guest services on the main level.
Boosting the center field play place. It’s saved us from many an early exit. For busy games, they do scheduled passes. Get them on the initial walk to the aforementioned awesome bleachers.— Ray Dubicki (@RayDubicki) March 28, 2019
Bonus: If your kid is two or under, they don’t need a ticket—as long as you don’t mind them sitting on your lap.
What’s in a name?
Seattleites are still adjusting to T-Mobile Park after referring to the stadium as Safeco Field for 20 years. The story here is pretty simple—Safeco Field bought naming rights for $40 million in the wake of cost overruns for stadium construction. That was a 20-year deal, and when that expired, Safeco opted not to renew. T-Mobile swooped in and bought a 25-year naming rights deal.
A bright new color
The new name comes with some new branding—and specifically, a bold new color scheme. T-Mobile officially calls the color brightening up the stadium “magenta,” although some liken it to more of a Pepto Bismol color.
What color is the T-Mobile Park branding?
This poll is closed
Stadium art and statues
T-Mobile Park has gained plenty of art and decor over the past 20 years—with the most notable statues being one of legendary outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. outside the southwest entrance and another of late, beloved announcer Dave Niehaus, both by Chicago artist Lou Cella. The Niehaus statue was designed to be a nostalgic photo opportunity, with the sportscaster sitting at a mic with an empty seat next to him.
The stadium is home to a bunch of different baseball-related art and texture, though:
- Another statue, this one of a child playing baseball, is incorporated in the design of a wishing well outside the kids’ play area.
- Three baseball-inspired metal “quilts” hang by the right field gate.
- A series of metal reliefs of pitching grips by a Fall City artist Donald Fels are mounted on the west side of the parking garage.
- Portraits on porcelain panels by Issaquah artist Tina Hoggatt depict players from baseball history, all representing nine positions on the field. Those hang above the third base line of the upper concourse.
- Five baseball card-inspired works with real baseball facts by Seattle artist Helen Lessick hang at the center field gate.
- The stainless steel cutouts on the exterior gates are by Bow artist Ries Niemi.
- At the left field gate, there’s a portrait of Griffey sliding into home plate—surrounded by excited teammates—celebrating the 1995 American League Division Series victory against the Yankees. Let’s just ignore that we don’t have a World Series victory to paint.
- At the center field gate, there’s more of a fan portrait—Gu Xiong’s massive enamel-on-steel mural portrays jubilant fans, baseball cards, and objects to catch a foul ball with, bookended by portraits of 40 baseball players.
- In more conceptual art, a giant chandelier made out of translucent baseball bats, created by Linda Beaumont, Stuart Keeler and Michael Machnic, hangs over the main concourse at the home plate gate.
- A fun, interactive sculpture of a baseball mitt at the left field gate was designed by Gerard Tsutakawa.
If you’re fancy enough to end up at the terrace and suite level, there’s a collection of 43 paintings, prints, and photographs lining the hall, many from Northwest artists.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Sicks’ Stadium, which stood from 1938 to 1979—built after Seattle’s previous stadium fell prey to arson—and home to beloved minor-league team the Seattle Rainiers. It’s a major part of South Seattle history, although all that remains of it now are memories and a plaque outside a hardware store. It was dismantled after the Kingdome (and a general lack of investment in South Seattle) made it a ghost field.
It was also very briefly home to Seattle’s short-lived first major-league team, the Seattle Pilots—which were almost immediately moved to Milwaukee and renamed the Brewers. But this is an important part of how we ended up with both the Mariners and the Kingdome. Seattle had approved funding for the Kingdome as part of an urban renewal package called Forward Thrust, with the assumption there would be an American League team to go inside it. In 1976, the league relented, and gave Seattle a team—that’s the Mariners—in exchange for dropping the suit. In 1977, the Mariners joined the Seahawks as a home team at the Kingdome, but it wasn’t well-suited for baseball.
In the 1990s, then-governor Gary Locke convened a task force to try to figure out how to get the Mariners their own stadium. The effort became somewhat frenzied after then-owner John Ellis threatened to move the Mariners out of town if they didn’t get a stadium. The state legislature and county council cleared the way to fund it with a 0.1 percent sales tax, but the funding measure was ultimately defeated by a public vote.
While a sales-tax measure to fund the new stadium was defeated, the effort came at an especially exciting time for the Mariners and their fans—perhaps their most exciting era. The team had finally won a division championship (defeating the New York Yankees, no less). It was led by an all-star lineup, including Griffey and Edgar Martinez (the latter even has a street by the field named after him). Alex Rodriguez, now an A-lister, was just starting to making a name for himself with the Mariners, Randy Johnson was still with the team, and fan favorite Jay Buhner was in his prime.
So the legislature and county council went back to the drawing board, and came up with a lodging tax funding model, kicking in after the Kingdome was paid off. The distribution of those funds would also fund housing, tourism promotion, and the arts.
After a fast construction timeline between 1997 to 1999 (some said too fast), the ballpark had its big opening day was July 15, 1999 with a game against the San Diego Padres. Designed by architecture firm NBBJ, the stadium featured a Seattle-ready retractable roof for the classic open-air feeling for when weather cooperated and shelter for when it didn’t.
With football stadium Centurylink Field under construction, and Kingdome was imploded in 2000.
Mariners ownership once again threatened to leave as the 20-year deal that paid off the stadium came up for renewal—this time, asking $180 million over a 25-year extension for capital projects. Since the funding source also went into housing and the arts, it ended up being major sticking point, with community groups pushing for additional money for the other buckets rather than paying for the stadium’s capital improvements.
Eventually, the public facilities district that controls Safeco agreed on a new 25-year lease with the county—with the potential to be extended through 2049.