24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, Calif.
Tickets: (415) 972-2000
Who Plays Here:
San Francisco Giants (NL)
First Opened: March 31, 2000 (exhibition against the Milwaukee
First regular season game: April 11, 2000 (6-5 loss to Los Angeles
Surface: Sports Turf (blend of five low-growing bluegrass hybrid
Architect: HOK Sport (Kansas City)
Construction: Huber, Hunt & Nichols, Inc. and Kajima
Owner: China Basin Ballpark Corp., a subsidiary of the Giants
Cost: $255 million
Private financing: $100 million from naming rights, a $145 million
loan secured by the Giants, and $10 million tax increment financing by the
City's Redevelopment Agency. The Giants lease the land on which the
ballpark sits from the Port of San Francisco at a fair market value.
Pacific Bell Park is the first privately financed Major League ballpark to be built in 38
years (the last was Dodger Stadium in 1962). Well, it is at least
96% financed by the private sector, which in this day and age is as close
as taxpayers can reasonably hope to get.
It is a gem - a brick-faced, open-air, natural-grass, classic urban ballpark with an old-time feel that was inspired
by Wrigley Field and Fenway
Park, but which borrows from the local
architecture to give it a distinct native feel. It is conveniently
located just a few miles from the old Candlestick site, just north of the Lefty
O'Doul Bridge, in a rapidly gentrifying industrial neighborhood.
It is serviced by nearly all public transit systems servicing the San Francisco
The new stadium features a much more fan-friendly design, with fewer seats
(by over 20,000) and a cozier feel; it has extra-wide concourses so that
fans don't miss the action while going to the concessions, and 1,500
special field seats located at ground-level behind home plate and between
the dugouts. Lower box seats go for a meager $23 apiece, which is a
nice family-friendly touch. The sightlines are superior, maybe the
best in the majors - unlike Candlestick Park (and other multi-purpose
facilities) all seats at Pacific Bell Park face the baseball diamond.
The new park was the result of the commitment of the local ownership group
- led by Peter Magowan - which bought the team in 1993 to keep it in San
Waterfront Promenade: A unique public promenade has been developed
along the waterfront from right field to center field, where fans can
watch the game through a fence at no charge and where San Franciscans can
enjoy new access to the bay 365 days a year. Ferries dock directly
adjacent to the ballpark beyond the right field wall. Best of all, home
runs that soar majestically over the right-field grandstand drop into the
San Francisco Bay's China Basin - the area where balls land is called
Wind: Although it is too early to tell just how much wind will affect
play here, there is no doubt that wind conditions are greatly improved
from the Stick. Wind tunnel research conducted by experts from U.C.
Davis, and modern
design technology in construction, has made this a less adventurous
ballpark for outfielders.
Playing Field: Kentucky Bluegrass Blend with
the crushed volcanic rock infield and rubberized tartan-surface warning
Pacific Bell Park Firsts
Grand Opening- April 11,
2000 (Dodgers defeat Giants, 6-5)
Pitch - Kirk Rueter
Batter - Devon
Hit - Devon White
Homerun - Kevin Elster
Stolen Base -
Victory - Chan Ho Park
Strikeout - Mark Grudzielanek
Save - Jeff Shaw
Error - Geronimo Berroa
Pac Bell solidified its reputation as a pitcher's haven last year,
suppressing run production by 18% and home runs by 38%, the most in the
majors. As the park matures, maybe
it will play more neutral, but the low elevation, heavy, damp air and deep
alleys suggest that it will continue to be a good pitcher's park.
It is a curious shape, because it is a compact urban building shaped by
its tight surroundings. The right-field porch is close to home plate
(just 309 feet away) but deceptively hard to hit - the park suppressed
left-handed power by 43% last season and 23% in 2000. Deep alleys and a spit-clean
playing surface are also pitcher-friendly factors.
The only position that places unusual demands on fielders is
center field, where the depth of the alley in right-center
requires someone with range and a good jump. That happens to
be a weak spot in the Giants lineup.
Giants outfielders committed just 10 errors all season at home, versus 16
on the road, after a 2000 campaign when they committed just 2 at home and 16 on
the road. Opponent outfielders committed 5 here and 9 in their home
parks. The beautifully kept infield grass, plus the better weather
conditions and reduced wind factor reduced errors dramatically - in fact,
Pac Bell had the second lowest error factor in the NL last season after
posting the lowest in the majors in 2000.
Benefits: I remember taking one look at the plans at the
beginning of 2000, seeing the 309-foot wall in right field, and
immediately drafting left-handed slugger Barry Bonds and then J.T.
Snow. Indeed, left-handed power hitters do have a short porch in
right to shoot for - the distance to the right-field foul pole is the
shortest in the bigs. But the fence slides sharply away to a very,
very, VERY deep power alley in right center, where the distance from home
plate is 420 feet. The result: Pac Bell suppressed left-handed home
runs by 43% last year and 23% in its inaugural year, and played neutral for
hit 37 of his 73 HR at home in 2001, compared to 25 of his 49 dingers at
home in 2000; second baseman RHB Jeff Kent hit just 14
of his 33 HR at home in his MVP season in 2000 and just 8 of his 22 HR
here in 2001. Kent also hit 15 points better on the road.
Giants' pitchers became pistol-hot at home in 2000, the park's inaugural
year - they
looked like the 1939 Yankees, posting a home record of 55-26 and an ERA of
3.45, fully 25% below the league average - and the pattern continued last
season, as Giants pitchers posted a 3.79 ERA at home and 4.60 ERA on the
road. The primary beneficiaries last year were Shawn Estes (3.15 ERA
at home, versus 5.15 on the road) and Russ Ortiz (2.49 ERA at home, 4.08
on the road), though Livan Hernandez, Jason Schmidt, Kirk Rueter and Robb
Nenn also had favorable home-road splits.
Select few hitters did better at home - Shawon Dunston and Rich Aurilia -
while Barry Bonds posted even splits. Left-handed hitters who don't
pull the ball well do poorly here -
Who Gets Hurt: Anyone with alley
power, particularly lefties. Right-handed pitchers have to be careful, especially finesse
pitchers, because lefties can get ahead of them and rap their off-speed
stuff into the Bay.
San Francisco, CA: A 13-acre site
is bounded by King, 2nd and 3rd Streets and China Basin. Left field (NE),
2nd Street; 3rd base (NW), King Street; 1st base (SW), 3rd Street; right
field (SE), China Basin.
Left field: 335 feet
Left-center: 364 feet
field: 404 feet
Right-center: 420 feet
Right field: 307 feet
Backstop: 48 feet.
Foul territory: Average.
- Lowest LHB HR and avg factor in NL in
- Lowest RHB HR factor in NL in
- Second lowest avg and hit factor in NL in
- Second lowest error factor and
infield-error in NL in 2001
- Lowest error factor and
infield-error in NL in 2000
- Third lowest run factor in NL in
2000 and 2001
- The huge glove in the left field
stands is clearly marked with a "502" sign, making it the
most distant current outfield measurement sign in baseball.