Itinerant Fan

Oracle Park

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The San Francisco Giants’ bayside ballpark, now known as Oracle Park, has long been considered one of the gems of MLB stadiums, and one visit makes it easy to see why. Heck, one glimpse of it on TV makes it easy to see why, with the views of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge helping form one of the sport’s most picturesque settings.

Of course, you can’t get the full effect without actually attending a game there. When you do, you’ll see how the surrounding neighborhood, the nearby water, the prevalence of technology that has become synonymous with the Bay Area and the array of concessions offerings combine to make a visit to Oracle Park one of the most unique ballpark experiences out there.

And this was the case before the Giants’ glorious run of the early 2010s, when they won three World Series titles in a five-year span — their first championships since the franchise moved west from New York in 1958 — and made the ballpark one of the most popular places by the Bay.

These days, Oracle Park — formerly known as AT&T Park, SBC Park and Pacific Bell Park — remains as much of a gem as ever despite all the name changes. Read on to find out how to get the most of the experience.

For more on visiting San Francisco, check out our San Francisco Bay Area city guide.

  •   The Approach

    Not exactly the most desirable district to visit before the ballpark was built in 2000, the South Beach/China Basin neighborhood, and the South of Market (SOMA) district of San Francisco in general, has blossomed into one of the most vibrant — and expensive — pieces of land in the world, full of million-dollar lofts and office buildings that house billion-dollar tech giants. 

    Public transportation is certainly a more stress-free way of getting to the ballpark, but for the first-time visitor to the Bay Area, it helps to know a bit about the various transport options beforehand. The system most outsiders know about, BART, runs through the heart of San Francisco, but its closest stations to Oracle Park are along Market Street, more than a mile away. The walk from there is pleasant, especially if you choose to do so along the Embarcadero, but definitely long.

    The local rail service, Muni, is less well-known but far more efficient in getting to the game — the King & Second stop, which serves three different Muni lines, is right across the street from the park. Fans who use BART to reach San Francisco from other parts of the Bay Area can get off at the Embarcadero stop and transfer to the N or T lines of Muni to reach Oracle Park.

    Caltrain, the commuter rail service that connects San Francisco with San Mateo and Santa Clara counties to the stop, has its northern terminus station at King and Fourth streets, one block from the ballpark.

    For a full range of options for getting to and from the game, including bicycles and rideshares, click here.

    Like most dense neighborhoods, especially those in California, parking can be a challenge and, at the very least, a surprisingly expensive endeavor. The largest collection of parking spaces for baseball fans can be found just to the south, on the other side of McCovey Cove; as of the 2019 season, rates began at $40 per car. For parking information, click here.

    Drivers can search for, compare, and reserve parking through Parking Panda. They have a bunch of options around the ballpark, some of which won’t break your wallet. Once you reserve a space, they’ll email you the parking pass and you can drive to the ballpark with peace of mind. Check them out below:

     
  •   The Build-Up

    Starting not long after the park’s opening, the surrounding neighborhood has built up to where all sorts of options await the early-arriving (as well as late-staying) fan.

    Starting at the intersection of King and Third streets, where Willie Mays Plaza is, you could walk three or four blocks in any direction and find a wide selection of places to spend your time and money before or after the game.

    Attached to the ballpark at Willie Mays Plaza is the Public House, a brewpub that allows fans to enjoy some food and drink and then enter directly into the venue from there.

    If you’d rather plan things out, you can consult this San Francisco Chronicle guide to places to eat around the ballpark. 

  •   The Ambiance

    Oracle Park is one of our favorite parks in MLB for food, and let us count the ways: Garlic fries (yes, they’re worth the bad breath). Caribbean-style jerk chicken (from a stand named after Giants great Orlando Cepeda). Clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl (and whether it’s gourmet or comes out of a can, I don’t know, but if you’re a visitor to San Francisco on a cold evening, this is the thing to have). Crab and lobster rolls. Fried dough (as delicious as it is simplistic-sounding). And these are just the things we’ve actually tried.

    Now, none of this comes cheap. It wouldn’t come cheap wherever you were in San Francisco, but at Oracle Park it really isn’t cheap. Some of these choices would run you in the $15-20 range. But again, if you’re a visitor and you’re looking to experience the park, then go ahead and splurge. 

    As for seating, if you’ve been to many other MLB parks, you’ll probably find quickly that Oracle Park occupies a significantly smaller footprint than most of them — just the price of the designers shoehorning it into such a prime plot of land. As a result, though, you’ll find the concourses are fairly narrow, leading to some big traffic jams. Put it this way: If you’ve just bought food at a stand on the third-base side, your seats are on the first-base side and the first pitch is about to be thrown, just give it up, relax and shoot for the second inning.

    And they’re a little tight about letting people walk through the left-field region — the area with the giant Coke bottle and mitt — and with good reason. There’s hardly any space out there.

    Also, if you’ve scored prime Field Club seats (Sections 107-124), the entrances to those sections are via the same level as the clubhouses. Stand in the right place at the right time, ie. within half an hour of first pitch or right at game’s end, and you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of players and coaches heading between the clubhouses and dugouts, and vice versa.

    But if you’re visiting for the first time, do take some time to wander around, stop and enjoy the scenery. If you’re on the left-field side, take in that view of the Bay Bridge from just outside the park. Wander over to right field and look at all the kayakers in McCovey Cove. And venture into center field, where behind the batter’s eye are a few stands that only the regulars seem to know about — and, as of the 2014 season, a garden.

    As you’ll quickly find, Oracle Park is full of surprises.

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The Particulars

Home Teams
San Francisco Giants

Address
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94107

Year Opened
2000

Capacity
41,503

Upcoming Events
All times local
Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Friday, April 3, 2020
3:30 am
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Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Saturday, April 4, 2020
3:30 am
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Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants
Sunday, April 5, 2020
3:30 am
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Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants
Monday, April 6, 2020
3:30 am
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Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
3:30 am
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