No Quick Way Around the Park

Rachel Gibson

Emilie, you were absolutely right about Cantina Marina French fries. Those things are fantastic. I daresay the best in the park. I also tried their Cajun corn dog and, although it's a little scary how they finish off the spice rub, it, too, was fantastic.

The downside is that I likely won't ever see Cantina Marina unless I go before the game starts. I sit on the third base side, 200 level, and there is no way I'm getting to Cantina Marina, (first base side, 200 level) and back in less than an inning's time during the ballgame. And that's without a line. The time it takes to traverse the park hits the point of diminishing returns, good as those fries are.

That is the one bummer about the ballpark for me: being unable to circle the park on the upper levels. The closer in to home plate you are, the worse it is because the suite sections cut you off. You have to go down a level or more and the means to do so aren't always obvious, open or time-friendly. Escalators on either first or third base sides are pretty handy, but if they aren't moving in your direction (it changes mid-game), you have to backtrack to an elevator or the ramps.

Good luck finding an elevator if you don't go to the park very often. The third base elevators and escalators are jammed into dark corners. And personally I hate the ramps. They're too silent, for one thing. No game feeds are piped in, and crowd sounds are muffled so you lose the ballgame feel instantly. The ramps are not nearly as unattractive as RFK's. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but they're brand new and still look a little shabby with their dull gray paint and bland railings and walls. You can't see the field from the home plate ramps, and it takes four traverses to go just one level, which is time consuming.

The centerfield area is clearly not a problem. It's plenty open, but how many seats are on the centerfield side compared to the infield side? Not many. You can circle the ballpark on one level, but with crowds of more than 25,000, that concourse gets pretty log-jammed and, again, time-consuming.

It's not that I'm lazy, though I can be. But the point is that for all the talk about how open and cozy the ballpark is, getting from one end of the park to the other on the upper levels can be a pain.

I'm curious how (or even IF) sections such as, say, 416 to 420 get down to Ben's Chili Bowl or Noah's Pretzels? Do you have a trick for getting from section 204 over to Cantina Marina without missing half the game?

By Rachel Gibson  |  May 24, 2008; 9:39 AM ET  | Category:  Rachel Gibson
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We were just complaining about this last night at the game. If you are going upstairs or beyond the luxury suites, the stadium's design is sorely lacking.

Posted by: jindc | May 24, 2008 10:59 AM

It's not as bad on the third base side to go from the 300/400 level to the 200 level, but it is still a pain since the elevators tend to be real slow, the escalators only go one way and there are no useable stairs. Who thought it was a good idea to design a ballpark with very fewstairs, none really useable, and really out of the way ramps that take forever to go up or down?

Posted by: EricS | May 24, 2008 11:16 AM

Ben's or Hard Times are for us the same as Cantina Marina for you: Better go before the game. In fact, even Cantina Marina and the rest of the centerfield area is a hike. Once we're at our seats, we pretty much stick to the standard fare on the upper deck.

Definitely agree that the ramps are too shallow (imagine going back and forth that many times with a toddler!), although I'm sure that's an ADA issue.

Like you, though, I'm not complaining. Just critiquing.

Posted by: Section 319 | May 24, 2008 2:01 PM

I sat in section 420 at a game on Tuesday and went to Ben's Chili Bowl. By the time I got back to my seat, the chili on my half smoke was cold. It's definitely a hike from 420 to Ben's!

Posted by: swdc | May 24, 2008 4:15 PM

Good god...what a bunch of whiners. Take the time to got Ben's/Hard Times/Cantina Marina or not. Maybe you could lobby the Lerner's to offer food delivery to your seat. You want a solution? Buy a ticket on a lower level closer to the food. You are going to a baseball game...not a fine dining experience.

Posted by: The View from 222 | May 24, 2008 9:12 PM

If really you have to have that taste - go before the game. What I do is plan to do one of two things: arrive at the park early if I want to eat, or stick to the fare around my seat at 223 if I want something between innings. And the fare around my seat is pret-ty darn good.

Now what is awesome is I can leave my seat when the inning is over, make a pit stop, get a beer and be back by the time the next batter has come to the plate. It'll cost me another batter if i want a munchie. There was no chance of that EVER happening at RFK unless the Marlins were in town on a Thursday day game...

Sure, if I want a 5 Guys during the 4th, I know I'll have to wait. I haven't even thought about traipsing to Ben's Chili Bowl during the game. That's way too far from my seat. Nothing is that good to miss an inning and 1/2 of the game!

Posted by: DanD187 | May 25, 2008 10:43 AM

I hear ya: our seats are behind home plate, and despite having been to all but 2-3 home games so far this season I have yet to make it to Five Guys. Just haven't been able to justify the distance. But someone there told our seatmate that they're hoping to put a Five Guys on our side of the stadium before the end of this season, so I'm looking forward to that!

@ The View from 222: Puh-leeze. The stadium put in name vendors specifically so that people would go there, and wishing it were easier to get to the other side of the stadium and back is hardly the same as wishing for food delivery or a "fine dining experience."

Posted by: Section 312 | May 25, 2008 7:20 PM

Getting from 416 to Ben's Chili Bowl is easy...go down the ramps. Of course, it helps that a Ben's half smoke is also available everywhere on the upper deck.

The key is get to the game early, get your food, and then go to your seat. Latecomers shouldn't gripe.

Posted by: JeffS | May 25, 2008 8:25 PM

The CANTINA MARINA FRIES ARE THE BEST FRIES IN THE PARK! They are worth the walk and are way better than the Boardwalk Fries which when handed to me twice now have been cold... at the stand itself not once back at my seats! Additionally, the level of customer service at Cantina Marina is amazing and many other items I've had from there were awesome! Plus, you get the little warm feeling of supporting a small, local business! Doesn't get much better than that!

Posted by: RGator | May 26, 2008 2:06 PM

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