Yesterday, I wrote a little bit about how this year’s Colorado Rockies Opening Day at Coors Field went and, I’ll admit, left a little teaser about writing more about the rooftop. Well, I like to consider myself a pleaser as well so herein I expound with a more fleshed out review of the new Rooftop area at Coors Field. Yep, had to be done, if only to return the effort the Rockies ownership has put forth in interviews and media tours introducing the Rooftop as compared to, say, announcing their acquisition of Todd Helton’s successor
Jose Abreu Justin Morneau. So, since I’m pretty sure why the Rockies wanted a Rooftop area while I had to dig around to find out why the Rockies wanted Justin Morneau instead of calling up a prospect (playoff experience), I figured it was only fair to journey into the center of The Rooftop to see what all the hubbub was about.
Entering from the main gate area, there’s a little signage “that-a-waying” people to walk along the concourse towards the right field area. I took the first staircase I saw, which was probably a staircase or two too early, but no harm done. I climbed up to the third level then started the trek to right field. Along the way, I mused that there weren’t many Rockies fans “fanatically out”, as in, I didn’t see much in the way of people holding signs with painted faces and such. I did see one interesting individual who had a pretty cool looking Rockies cape and a sign, but apparently, he had buddies to dash off to which took priority over me taking an iPad picture.
Now, I don’t go in this area all that often because, well, I’m not a fan of stairs especially if I can’t see or hear much of what’s going on in the game. I’m assuming not much was done in the 318 section so I kept on walking. I was hoping there’d be some big fluorescent “Welcome to the Rooftop” signage that would let me know I was in the area that had been remodeled. But, the best I could do was notice that the paperdolls on the bathroom signage had changed. I got near a set of discrete stairs that headed “fieldwards” and ascended to see if I was in the area.
The hard part, however, of going to an area that you’ve never been to before is figuring out if you’re actually there. This can be complicated by the area itself being new, on a busy day like Opening Day, so that everyone else is also there too, leaning against the railing, in various states of watching their game or chatting with their friends. I expected that in some abstract, back-of-the-envelope way but, as an ex-physics major, I figured I would still be able to see the field. I was wrong (partially because I wasn’t great at physics). Alas, not only did the field remain teasingly from view save for a lonely foul pole, but the scoreboard was also out of sight.
I decided to trek towards fair territory in the naive hope that I might be able to get some glimpse of the field. In some places, the walkway narrowed to about five people wide with people lining the railing on both sides. As someone without the slightest trace of claustrophobia, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was in an open-air version of the lower concourse where I’m surrounded by people and I know baseball is happening but I can’t see what’s happening. Much to my chagrin, however, that feeling was reinforced as I heard the crowd roar because, as I found out later, Cory Blackmon hit a home run. Unfortunately, unlike the concourse, there wasn’t a television along the way to see what happened either and the idea of being at a baseball game without knowing what the heck was going on was being a little unsettling. In happier news, there was a little ledge (as in the right on the picture above) that seemed pretty inviting to sit on. You know the type, where you know some architect said to his or herself “Sure, it’s basically a base for the pole, but if we just made it a few inches wider, Voila! It’s seating!”. I’ll admit never having an inclination to view a baseball game between someone’s kneecaps but considering the lack of places to sit so far along my trek, I appreciate the option if needed. Not for the kneecap watching but for the derriere resting.
I quested onwards in hopes of finding a view of the field. No luck for awhile. Here’s one of the more crowded walkway areas with the aforementioned blocking of the field and the scoreboard.
I passed quite a few bathrooms, facing field-ward which was, well, different. Concession stands and our ever favorite baseball park staple, the aisle vendor hawking beer, were exceptionally scarce. I did pass one stand that had a very long line for suspiciously only appearing to sell peanuts and hot dogs.
Eventually, I found a brief perch where, I was told, “Yeah you can take a picture, but my friends are coming back soon.” Aided in my quest, I snapped a shot. It _is_ a nice view and, unlike New Comiskey a.k.a. U.S. Cellular Field where the White Sox played and I braved over two decades ago as a wee Chicagoan when it opened, I didn’t have to squint to watch the game nor did I get the feeling the deck was about to fall over.
More rooftop to explore and I finally get the idea that, yes, this was where I was actually supposed to “climb the stairs” because I started wandering through, yes, through bars. Pretty ingenious actually. I thought “Gosh, what happens if it rains.” Sure enough, the walkway I wandered through had a sliding glass garage-panel type contraption that slid down in such an eventuality. Oh, and I finally found a TV! In fact, flat screens were in abundance. Something I noted was that all were muted. So, if I was looking at a buddy instead of actually watching the game, I figured I’d miss what happened without the audio cue.
The bar area line, considering how busy the rooftop is, wasn’t really that long either and it seemed you could get food and liquor from each side. Now, I’m not as well versed on restaurant interior design as I am in, say, customer service call center statistics, but to me it seemed like an efficient use of space and personnel.
Apparently I got to the proverbial end of the line. Unable to continue towards the Rockpile area as I very naively hoped, I backtracked a little and then made my way back towards the concourse area. There was a small flight of stairs with an intriguing area down in the concourse with pretty tables and yes, a glimpse of the VIP cabanas, i.e. the heart of The Rooftop labyrinth. Now, I’ll admit, I was more than a bit vaguely curious as to how busy this area would get, especially if half of the busyness was drunk. For some strange reason, I never thought combining alcohol, altitude and staircases was the best idea known to man. To judge the peril (and out of sheer morbid curiosity), I decided to conduct a spontaneous qualitative field study on how busy this particular staircase would be, timestamped somewhere near the end of the first inning. I did so by taking out my iPad and seeing whether I was patient enough to wait on taking a picture of the area without being interrupted by an ascender or a descender. Two minutes was better than I had originally hoped, and no one defiled my sandal-exposed toes, so that mission was a success. I’ll also note that in the plethora of stairs and staircases in Coors, these seemed a little “softer” i.e. easier on my knees and are a baby step in height, so I’ll credit the aforementioned architects with that one and hope that any adventurers who quaffed too much pale ale are able to navigate the stairs with ease.
In that picture, you also get a better idea of how the bar is laid out. I imagine that this area is where the concerts/musical performances would take place. It felt cozy and yeah, quite a bit of people, but nowhere near as tightly packed in as the upper level of the rooftop felt. Over to the right were the VIP cabanas, with the privacy sheets hitched up in all their glory to give people views of the couches and tons of TVs in their wake.
Pretty pretty. I could lounge out on one of those couches all day, chatting with a friend or reading a book with a glass of merlot. Well, not all day, since I can’t smoke cigarettes in them, but you get the point. I walked down the stairs to get a closer look. It’s a very quiet area. Now. I’ll admit, I’m not a raver. My speed is generally somewhere between a martini bar and a sports pub on karaoke night. I can appreciate a quiet area. I like the idea that I can talk to someone without having to shout in their ear. So, yes, I could definitely hang out here… if I wanted to go to a ballpark to hang out instead of to actually watch the game. And, with how quiet it was, when the crowd roared, it was all the more obvious that “something happened” in the baseball game nary a few hundred feet the other way. I was hoping that here, in this central area, there might be a speaker turned on that would relay the radio broadcast. I even crept up to one of the twenty or so flatscreen TVs along the wall behind the cabanas to see if the volume was on but just really, really, really low. Nope, not on at all.
Disappointed, I headed to the last place of interest to me. The rumored firepit.
There it is.
Full disclaimer: I’m a firepit snob. To me, there’s two kinds of people in the world. Those who like to go camping and listen to Candlebox at 3am near a firepit with a bottle of wine and those who have no idea what I’m talking about.
This ain’t much of a firepit. There’s no seating that actually faces it, so it’s not like I can grab a Mike’s Hard Cranberry and meditate for ten minutes. And it’s not really “firepitty” but more like a gas line camouflaged by faux charcoal. On top of that, I picture the aforementioned architect saying “Sure, it’s a firepit, but if we just made it a few inches wider, Voila! It’s seating!” Ok, so I can keep my seat warm. And I actually would have liked that idea until I looked skywards. Yes, skywards, since there’s no awning covering the firepit!
Ok, let me think this through again. I live in Denver. In Denver, it gets rainy and windy. Last year, it snowed on June 1st. In such cases, say, June 1st when I dressed for mild weather and it ends up snowing more and the wind starts blowing harder than the forecasters “predicted”, I’d like to be near a firepit to keep warm, except with this “firepit” being in such an open-air area with no awning, it will also be in the rain and wind. In other words, the basic benefit of having a firepit is negated by the very circumstances its supposed to help with.
Then, to my horror, I spun around and looked back across the cabanas with their cloth ceilings and the pretty tables with no overhead protection. I realized that this whole, nice, new, pretty area, would be equally inhospitable in the event of “weather”. Sure, the bars would be open, but that’s where everyone else would be crammed into and, most likely, be pretty noisy about it. In other words, I’d be in LoDo with the honor of paying an extra premium on drinks. But, since it’s rainy and windy outside, I wouldn’t want to leave! And if I wanted to, say, get a breath of fresh air (or a puff of a cigarette), I’d have to get cold and wet and _then_ go down two flights of stairs to find a smoking section.
I’ll admit, I fancied the idea that I’d come to Coors Field and, if the weather got bad, I’d migrate from my seat and climb up three levels to hang out in The Rooftop area. I reminisced about “the good old days” when people would hang out in the concourse and chat during the rain delays. Alas, that idea was dashed. No offense to people who like the idea of a wet soggy mosh pit with no room to move and barely enough room to yell, but I don’t.
I was done, still having no clue how the Rockies had scored twice. I figured I’d do some special interests research but it turned out that my fears were correct… despite some interesting looking alcoves, no smoking was allowed anywhere in The Rooftop area. Down two flights through one of the darker looking staircases in Coors Field that I’ve seen, I rejoined the masses who were there to see a game.
Now, I’ll admit, my observations were colored by it being Opening Day and The Rooftop was as expected, a novelty and quite busy. However, I tried to picture scenarios where I would go back up there and, short of the aforementioned concert or musical performance, I couldn’t fathom one. I wondered if I would come two hours before the game started and just “hang out”. Yeah, I could. I mean, it is comfy and pretty well put together (except for the awning/windshield part), but would I go there when I could just as easily hang out across the street? I won’t say “a resounding no” but more of a “meh, prolly not”. And, worst of all, I just couldn’t escape the feeling that the area is for people who have no real interest in actually paying attention to what’s going on in the game. I think of some of the other stadiums that I’ve been to, I think of the rooftop parties at Wrigley Field, the pool area of Chase Field, the sidewalk fence at Pac Bell park and the field-level restaurants and bars that adorn many other baseball stadiums. Even there, those novelties are arranged in such a way that the baseball game itself is the attraction and the amenity is an enhancement, not the other way around.
My take on The Rooftop? Nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to watch a game (or sit through a rain delay) there.