With over 200 straight sellouts and the diminutive Fenway Park (capacity 36,298) as their home, the Boston Red Sox are one of the hottest tickets in Major League baseball (MLB). If you are part of Red Sox Nation, the innumerable fans who live and die by each pitch and swing of the bat, and can’t get through the turnstiles of the home park, there is an alternative – road trip!
Many fans have found it to be fairly economical to take a mini-vacation on the weekend or use a week’s worth of summer leave and follow the team to opponent stadiums. Red Sox players have noted that they get a lot of support everywhere they go, and although many of those people are transplants from New England or natives of that particular region who love their Sox Red, others are part of a growing group of fans from the Boston area who can’t get enough of their team in the home setting.
Some away venues, such as Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia are tough tickets to get, but there are many stadiums where good seats are still available. Here are a few places you may want to go to help make the away team feel like they are at home.
Comerica Park, Detroit
Comerica Park is the home of the Detroit Tigers and it is one of those venues that, with everything else it offers, also seems to have a ball game going on somewhere. If you’re used to Fenway and you’ve never been to a game at a place like Comerica, you may be overwhelmed by the amenities, spaciousness and opportunities.
The park is in the center of an urban village that includes shops, restaurants, offices and many other features. Yes, there is a Ferris wheel and a pedestrian museum that goes around the main concourse. Other attractions in the area include various casinos and the Henry Ford Museum.
The Tigers have not had a good team in a long time and that means you can get fine seats for just about any game. Outfield boxes at $25 a seat are not difficult to get if you want to go and see the Red Sox.
Rogers Centre, Toronto
The Blue Jays have certainly upgraded their team but great seats are still relatively easy to get. The Rogers Centre has a retractable roof, the J Force (a team of Hip Hop and Break Dancers performing for fans), a season-long highest speed pitching cage contest and a 50/50 drawing every Saturday.
If you’re hoping to sing the national anthem at the Rogers Centre, please note that your audition tape must contain the American and then the Canadian national anthems. Be sure to include contact information with your CD or tape and once you send it in don’t contact them; they’ll call you if they’re interested.
You can buy exceptional field box tickets between home and first for around $42. Remember that hockey is king in Canada and baseball is not this country’s national pastime. So become an international traveler, enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in North America, and catch a three-game series in an open-air ballpark where there’s never a rainout.
Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay
The Trop has plenty of great, cheap seats all season long. It’s called “the ballpark of the 21st century,” and about 10 years ago the venue underwent an $85 million renovation. Like many newer parks, it has a primary concourse – Centerfield Street – that features various specialty shops and restaurants. Included in the area, where you can still watch the game, is MLB’s first in-stadium cigar bar – the Cuesta-Rey Cigar Bar.
The park is under a dome and, unlike any other domed field presently in the majors, has artificial turf and all dirt base paths. All other in-door facilities have only areas around the bases with dirt and then artificial turf on the rest of the running area.
Forty-seven dollars will get you a seat on the field level of the Trop. Not only will you get to see two teams that have developed a lot of bad blood between them, but you’ll get to hear the Tampa Bay Heckler, Robert Szasz, also know as “The loud guy.”
Szasz goes to every home game dressed in a Devil Rays shirt and hat and loudly heckles the visiting team, usually hurling his abuse at one player. He’s loud (you can hear him on radio and television casts), but he’s also clean. If you’re not up for a close encounter with Szasz and his booming voice, don’t sit near home plate.
McAfee Coliseum, Oakland
Go west, young fan, go west! If you’re California Dreaming, then Oakland may be the perfect place for you to catch your Sox. McAfee Coliseum is a multi-use stadium with 36,000 seats. Tailgating is permitted outside the park, something you can’t imagine doing around Fenway.
For a west coast venue, the stadium seems to have a rich history, including claiming to be the first stadium where “The Wave” was first performed on October 15, 1981. Fenway fans, which may be the only group that still performs The Wave, may find a pilgrimage to the site a life-changing experience (then again, maybe not). The bay area, including San Francisco, is easily accessible, making this a great vacation trip.
Oakland teams are built on pitching and fielding. You should see some fine ballgames at McAfee Park, the home of the game changing, progressive GM Billy Bean and Money Ball. You won’t be sitting at field level but for $40 a pop you’ll be able to look down on the game from far above.
Turner Field, Atlanta
Want to see one of the best teams in the American League take on one of the best clubs in the Senior Circuit? You won’t get prime seats like you will in Toronto or Tampa Bay, but you will find tickets available for Inter-league play between Boston and Atlanta.
At Turner Field the Braves claim that there are 101 things to do, including watching a ball game! Other things you can indulge in include making your own baseball bat (think “The Natural”), engaging in the non-P.C. “Chop Rally,” and taking a picture with Scooby Doo. (Why would anyone want to watch Andruw Jones play?) The venue also contains a very fine baseball museum.
The city of Atlanta possesses a rich cultural heritage, historic sites and the CNN Center, which includes the news giant, a shopping mall, convention center and hotel.
For $15 you can find a seat in the upper deck and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the BoSox battle with Atlanta. This is baseball at its best, with your home team taking on one of the best home teams in all of baseball.
If you are considering a short jaunt or a longer excursion to one or more of these out-of-town settings, be sure to buy tickets ahead of time. Presently, it’s fairly easy to purchase seats for most of these venues, with games that are scheduled later in the season being plentiful.
It’s baseball season – get away, enjoy a different city, and spread the spirit of Red Sox Nation across the land. With Big Papi, Manny, Schill and Tech taking the field, you’ll feel right at home and so will they.