Drinking Cheaply around Safeco Field

A Mini-Guide to Using Alcohol to Tolerate the 2003 Mariners

by Derek Zumsteg, early 2003

I provide this guide as a free service on the following two conditions:

Disclaimer: I offer this as a humorous guide and for informational purposes to help steer you towards good places to drink. I do not want you to drink in general or particularly to drink at the games. If you're going to drive anywhere, you're best off not drinking at all or finding someone who doesn't drink to drive. Please, don't drink and make an ass out of yourself at the game, and especially don't drink more than you should and get into serious trouble like killing someone.

I'm serious, if you're going to be an idiot, it's your own fault.

So, on to the guide.

People like to complain it costs them over $20 for beer over the course of a game. These people are stupid.

Hereís how to do this: go to a Pioneer Square bar, drink three delicious microbrews for $2.50 a piece, and once youíre inside the stadium, do a little maintenance drinking, 1 beer, $5.50, and still leave the game under the legal limit.

Time

Event

Cost

Apx BAC

Feeling

5:30

Delicious Beer

$2.50

0.02

Quenched

6:00

Delicious Beer

$2.50

0.04

Happy

6:30

Delicious Beer

$2.50

0.05

Nicely buzzed

6:45

Walk to Game

   

Wheeeee

6:55

Hassled at Gate

free

 

Annoyed

8:05

3rd inning beer

$5.50

0.045

Nicely buzzed

10:05

Game ends

 

0.02

Thirsty again

Thatís a whopping $13, but of course youíll want to tip well when youíre drinking early for so little and your bartender keeps them coming.

These numbers assume youíre me, a 200-pound guy. Youíll want to adjust the drunkenness according to your own schedule, weight, and gender (if youíre a woman of 150 pounds, youíd end the night with a BAC of about 0.06, which is trouble). Be sure to work out the numbers first, because unless you took the field in uniform, driving back from the game carries insanely nasty penalties thatíll put you in the poorhouse even if you manage to get off, which is unlikely. 0.04 is driving impairment, 0.08 is where the legal nightmare begins. Search on Google for a decent calculator to do your own work, or here's one from the Minnesota Institute of Public Health that looks okay.

Now, to business. Drinking around Safeco Field.

A note on listings: Where I had them, Iíve got the price and number of varieties of cheap pints (Bud and below) as 2 <= Bud, and of good beers (better than Bud) as 2 > Bud. Taps do change, but the numbers should give you a general idea of which way the selection skews, and if youíre more likely to find Fat Tire/Redhook or Lite. Because of the here-and-gone nature of specials, you may get much better or much worse prices than I did, and the taps may change. Also, because of the here-and-gone nature of drinking my way from bar to bar before games, my notes may be subject to wild errors.

Pyramid Alehouse, 1st and Royal Brougham Way, 1 minute walk to game

$4+ pints, all beers > Bud

Pyramid DPA is one of the greatest beers ever, a delicious and creamy drinkable thing of beauty, worth the price. But before games, you canít get in, thereís a 45m line to be crunched into the bar, the service is overwhelmed and frequently awful when you can get their attention using, say, road flares. Lead time on food can mean you miss the first pitch if youíre not careful.

The beer garden offers all the crowded, nowhere to sit, moron-jostles-your-beer-and-doesnít-buy-you-another charm of being inside, but instead of terrible service you get to wait in long lines only to find they sell their slowest-moving beers (like Pyramid Keg Leavings, a zesty 10% yeast brew). The garden is like a beer trough for yuppies who want to be seen holding premium beers. Moo, yuppies, moo.

Mariners Outback Steakhouse Outpost, vacant lot south of Safeco, 1 minute walk to game

$4?, 2 <= Bud, 2 > Bud

This partnership between the Mís and the Outback Steakhouses offers the terrible food of the Outback prepared in a portable kitchen, the poor prices you find inside the park, served up in a ramshackle lot with two picnic tables and a stool that are occupied 3 hours before game time. So no, I didnít hang around long.

On Deck Pub, in front of the Stadium Exhibition Center, 2 minute walk to game

$3.75 Bud, $4.25 good beers, 2 <= Bud, 2 > Bud

At some point in the season, theyíll have something like this set up in front of the Seahawk Stadium Exhibition Center. Itís got the short picket fence and plastic tarps, and works like a refugee camp, except that instead of getting bargains on brand new AK-47s in crates, youíll be paying too much for beer with too much head.

Sluggers, Occidental across from Seahawks Stadium, 3 minute walk to game

Pre-game: $3 Bud, $3.75 premium taps, 4 <= Bud, 10 > Bud

Sluggers is a cool hole in the wall, long and narrow. Theyíve got great taps and will serve you the good beers in real glasses. Sluggers also runs specials, so you might, for instance, get a gigantic plastic glass of high-alcohol Budweiser for $4, $5. Thatís a deal, alcohol-to-dollar-wise. Their collection of autographs on coasters includes Gaylord Perry, which is worth coming for all by itself. Service keeps up even in the rush.

King Street Bar and Oven, King & Occidental, 5 minute walk to game

~$3 Bud, $4 premium (look out for specials: I drank there for $2.75/premium pint on Wednesday), 4 <= Bud, 8 > Bud

Nice place down a level, music was a little loud, the bar itself only has ~6 stools, there arenít a lot of tables either, but Iíve never had a problem finding somewhere to sit. Service is good but runs slow in the crowds. Sandwiches and calzone are remarkably good for bar fare.

Tiki Bobís Cantina

This is where the UW Greek system hangs out before they hit the center field beer garden. Which means Iíve got no interest in drinking there.

Triangle Pup, First and Railroad Way S, 5 minute walk to the game

This place is packed and people dig sitting out on the porch. Advertises 20oz drafts of Rainier for $2 all day, every day. I couldnít get service after standing around at the bar for a good five minute walks waiting for a beer, so screw Ďem.

Pioneer Square, those three bars up by First and Washington, ~10 minute walk to the game. All three have a couple plastic tables out front where you can abuse Seattleís no-drinking-unless-the-bar-appropriated-the-sidewalk laws and get panhandled by winos who canít legally drink on the other side of the fence. All are pretty good:

Larryís Blues Cafe

$2 Bud, $2.50 premium, 2 <= Bud, 13 > Bud

Itís smoky, a little sleazy maybe, but $2.50 Fat Tire pints on gamedays? Iíll inhale some carcinogens for that kind of deal. Service is better in the bar, but a little smokier. Out of all the bars, this is where I go before games. Not that you should too: if I canít find a stool Iím going to be pissed.

Central

$4 premium, but there are gameday specials, 5 <= Bud, , 8 > Bud,

ďSeattleís Oldest SaloonĒ beautiful old wood bar, where cracks are filled with grime and wedged-in pennies.

J+M Cafť and Cardroom

$4 premium, 4 <= Bud, 7 > Bud

The bar is low, the stools high, which makes my well-practiced bar lean look stupid and painful on the knees. Good service, nice pours, chicken wings are tasty.

Thereís also some other places to drink, like the New Orleans, and the Bohemian Cafť, which has some gameday specials on beer, but you get the point: instead of watching batting practice, which ends way before game time anyway, get some food and drink some beer. Eventually though you need to head in to the game, which means youíre about to spend a lot more money. Drink cheaply while you can, and then walk on down.

Inside the park, youíve got a lot of bad options. Every concession stand has taps, at least a domestic and a microbrew. There are almost 20 microbrews served within Safeco, which beats the hell out of most every other stadium anywhere.

Donít drink them. Youíll want the Bud. Why?

Beer

Form

Cost

Fl Oz

Alcohol*

oz Alcohol

$/oz Alcohol

Drinkable?

Bud

Draft

$5.50

16

5.00%

0.80

$6.88

Y

Large Size Draft Bud

Draft

$7.25

20

5.00%

1.00

$7.25

Y

Bud

Bottle

$6

16

5.00%

0.80

$7.50

Y

Bud Light

Bottle

$6

16

5.00%

0.80

$7.50

N

Doc Otis Lemonade

Bottle

$6

16

5.00%

0.80

$7.50

N

Large Size Draft Micro

Draft

$7.75

20

5.00%

1.00

$7.75

Y

Redhook ESB

Bottle

$6

12

5.40%

0.65

$9.26

Y

Redhook ESB

Draft

$6.50

12

5.40%

0.65

$10.03

Y

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Draft

$6.50

12

5.30%

0.64

$10.22

Y

MGD/other crap

Draft

$5.50

16

3.20%

0.51

$10.74

N

Fosters

Draft

$6.50

12

4.90%

0.59

$11.05

Y

MGD/Coors Light

Bottle

$6

16

3.20%

0.51

$11.72

N

* alcohol percent measured by volume

Because Bud is by far the best alcohol delivery option available that wonít leave your eyes bloodshot and the bitter taste of ass in your mouth. Is Bud great? No, but with that kind of price difference youíll get used to it. Not, though, that the new larger draft size for Micros puts it not far off the price range of Bud, and pro-rating that enjoyment through 20oz... well, you donít need me to tell you that can be a worthwhile investment.

Check out how outrageous even that bargain 22oz Bud is, though, compared to the bar specials:

Outside Safeco

             

Beer

Form

Cost

Fl Oz

Alcohol*

oz Alcohol

$/oz Alcohol

Drinkable?

Pioneer Square Bud/Domestic

Draft

$2.00

16

5.00%

0.8

$2.50

N

Pioneer Square Micro

Draft

$2.50

16

5.00%

0.8

$3.13

Y

Local Bar Bud/Domestic

Draft

$3.00

16

5.00%

0.8

$3.75

N

Local Bar Micro

Draft

$4.00

16

5.00%

0.8

$5.00

Y

Your worst, not-on-special beer is still way cheaper than anything you can get within the ballpark.

Back to the topic at hand: youíve stepped inside the gates, and you need a beer. You can also buy beers at concession stands, where itís $6.50 for a 12 oz premium (Redhook & like taps) and $5.50 for a 16 oz cup of domestic (Bud, Miller, etc). Thatís right, youíre paying $1 more for 4oz less. This year there are also the $7.25 20oz domestic and $7.75 20oz premium cups, too, which is a much better deal on the premium and not-such-a-great deal on the premium. All the stands have that ridiculous two beers-per-transaction rule (itís not a carpool lane, guys, itís beer).

There are a couple spots where you can buy and enjoy your delicious brew. For the common ticket holder, thereís the beer garden, which is rented out for company events all the time and when itís not, is overrun by Bud-drinking fratties and their Coors Light-drinking girlies. Still, itís sunny and offers great views. Best place to drink in the park is the Bullpen Pub, west of the beer garden, where if you get there early enough you can get a seat looking out from under the manually-operated scoreboard through that bunker slit. Unfortunately, people have caught on to the buy-a-$6-ticket-and-sit-in-the-Pub-all-game scam, which means those good seats can fill up twenty minute walks after the gates open.

Thereís a full bar on the second deck and Iíd run down the costs but if youíre hanging out in the Wealth Club deck, youíre not going to be concerned about the cost of well drinks. Hereís to you!

By putting a little thought into your gameday planning, you can put together a much smoother, more economical drinking curve that will allow you to enjoy an alcohol-assisted Mariners game for under $20. And go read that disclaimer again.