As a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan, I buy plenty of tickets to games each season from either the Giants, or StubHub. I avoid keeping a tally because I don’t want to know the out-of-pocket – although it’s safe to say that Suze Orman would not approve.
This season, I decided to branch out and also buy a ticket to see my other favorite team – the Cleveland Indians – play the Oakland As. Not surprisingly, As tickets are much easier to come by than Giants tickets, and the “best available” option online can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your budget.
My best available seat for Sunday’s game at Oakland Coliseum was on the Diamond Level. The name suggested that I wasn’t going to be stuck in the bleachers, but you never know, right? Maybe there’s also a Krugerrand Level or a Platinum Level?
Another clue? The fact that you don’t really see signs for the Diamond Level anywhere in the ballpark, which I assume is intentional. I had to ask five different ushers for directions, and each time was told cryptically to “turn left/right at the hat stand”. It felt very prohibition-era, like I might be expected to know a secret handshake or password to get past the bouncer.
When I finally found the secret passageway next to “the hats”, an usher gave me directions to the bowels of the stadium. (Perhaps the Diamond Level also got its name because getting there feels a bit like descending into the mines?) I was then coached on protocol. It was at this point that I began to understand why my ticket cost so much.
The walk to my seat was like slipping backstage at a Springsteen show – except it was very quiet. The usher pointed to tape running along the floor, splitting the walkway in half. I was to stay to the left, because players from the opposing team (a.k.a. the Tribe) would be walking back and forth to their locker room on the right. I was advised not to speak to the players, and that photos are strictly verboten in the hallway. In fact, I was not even allowed to carry my cell phone in my hand, because I might be tempted to snap an iPhone pic.
Are you kidding me? The only thing separating me and lovable Jack “Super Mannahan” Hannahan would be a sliver of masking tape? Sadly I passed Jack and Jason Kipnis on my way down… and dropped my head to stare at my sneakers. I was nervous and shy, so I suppose I defaulted to Zoo Rules: Don’t try to touch the player (he may bite!), make eye contact with him, or feed him your hot dog scraps.
Speaking of food scraps, food is free on the Diamond Level – well, given the ticket price I guess it’s more accurate to call it complimentary – through the seventh inning. And they have LOBSTER ROLLS down there! Food orders are taken, and food is delivered, by very handsome waiters. Too bad no one told me all this in advance, before I bought a bratwurst up on the concourse.
As these photos attest, my seat was right behind home plate, a few yards from the on-deck circle. Before and after the game, I could photograph players going to/from the dugout, which I’m sure they hate. A few of them rushed past like they were running the gauntlet.
All in all, my foray into super-luxury seating was a blast, despite the game’s final score. (The Tribe lost 5-1.) I got the kind of photos I’d hoped for – not a ton of variety but amazing detail, like Justin Masterson’s facial expressions when he pitches. I also scored one lobster roll, awesome ballpark nachos, two Sam Adamses, two bottles of water and a bag of peanuts (still in my purse). Throw in some above-average Bay Area baseball weather and I’d say I broke even.