I once met a man on a shuttle bus who was spending his summer going to all the big-league baseball stadiums in the United States, taking tours of them, and seeing games. What a cool idea! I thought.
One time when we were in Denver, Ruth and I took the tour of Coors Field. It was memorable and I reported that Coors Field was in Lo Do, an urban renewal grid of 26 city blocks with Larimer Square, 18 Victorian buildings fronting Denver’s oldest street, at its opposite end.
When The Colorado Rockies came to town to play baseball in 1993 due to a Major League 2-team expansion, the Rox played in Mile High Stadium. It proved inadequate and became a parking lot. Coors Field was built for 215 million dollars just in time for The Rockies’ third season. It incorporated an 1890s warehouse into its design, but its cleverest construction feature, in my opinion, was a two-faced clock, seen from both inside and outside the stadium, that glowed purple if the Rockies won and white if they lost.
All of the stadium’s 50,449 seats were green except for purple row 20 whose occupants sat exactly one mile above sea level. Elevation does make a difference in sports. In baseball, for example, a hit ball travels about 10% farther at this altitude. The Costa Rican ball that CR pitchers used had to be humidified before each use because of the dry air. The first official game in April 1995 was accompanied by a snowstorm.
We learned about Dinger the Dinosaur, team mascot, whose name was chosen because actual dinosaur fossils were found at third base during construction. It was a thrill to step onto the field, sit in the dugout, etc. The tour lasted almost two hours but it seemed like minutes.
On Friday, November 30, 2007, Ruth, my 2 sisters Julie and Martha, and I had an even more thrilling experience, a tour of Yankee Stadium. The date is significant because in that year the house that Ruth built was scheduled for demolition. Erected between 1922 and 1923, the cathedral of baseball, so ideal at the time, was deemed inadequate by the next century. The new stadium rising across the street was judged a “Waste of $$$$$!!!!!” by one Google reviewer, but unlike him or her and the man on the shuttle, I haven’t been in it. The final game was played in the old stadium on September 21, 2008. The final public tour was conducted on November 9, 2008.
The very nostalgic Yankee Stadium walk-through included Monument Park, the plaques dedicated to its greatest players like Lou Gehrig, the dugouts, a locker room, etc. About our only restriction was that we could absolutely NOT walk on the playing field.
In April, 2014, Ruth and I were in Chicago near Wrigley Field and I decided it would be a kick to tour it. I went up to the only window opened to inquire and was told that they were working on the field so tours would not start until next month. A $500 million, 5-year renovation will reportedly begin at the end of the 2014 season, so this is your last chance to see one of only 2 historic gems left, the other being Fenway Park, before big changes occur. Tours begin tomorrow, May 4, and end September 24. At least Wrigley Field is not being torn down like Yankee Stadium.