In our quest to see every Major League Baseball stadium, we can usually do 2 or 3 in a trip because they tend to be in clusters…San Francisco and Oakland; Yankees and Mets; Cubs and White Sox…one destination has eluded us for a while because it stands alone.
Denver, where the plains meet the Rockies in central Colorado, has no other MLB stadium for hundreds of miles.
We finally bit the bullet, got some cheap tickets on Southwest, and decided to make a long weekend of it.
It’s just a bit over two hours to fly from LAX to DEN. With the low fare, $199 round trip each – tax inclusive, it was cheaper than driving which would be 1,000 miles over two days each way with our current $4+ per gallon gasoline.
Our hotel would again be the Drury Inn and Suites, our pick for last year’s hotel chain of the year, in Englewood. That’s 8 miles south of downtown. We picked the Drury because of the great experiences we’ve had with them in the past. The room was a large two-room suite with an accessible bathroom, king size bed, queen size sofa bed, two large screen LCD TV’s. Drury also throws in a full, hot breakfast buffet, a lite dinner, cocktail hour, Wi-Fi or wired Internet access, long distance phone calls, and all the soda and popcorn you can eat for free.
The bathroom had a tub and I had called to reserve a bath chair. Roll-in showers are also available, but for our use, a tub and chair are just as easy so I usually skip the roll-in to let someone who really needs it have one available.
Except this time they didn’t have a chair. After some back and forth negotiation, I had them put in one of the pool chairs and they knocked $180 off of my entire room rate for the inconvenience.
Even though they offered to find me another room at another hotel, I didn’t want to move because we had no car and this hotel is adjacent to the Dry Creek light rail station.
The next morning, after breakfast and showering, we head over to the rail station which actually turned out to be quite a walk. Each light rail station has a ramp at the driver’s end for wheelchairs. When the train pulled in, the driver deployed a ramp and Tim rolled in.
There are dedicated spots with pull-up benches for two wheelchairs and a third can get in the space behind the cab. This is also the place for strollers so you can see there can be a maximum of three strollers or wheelchairs on each train, even though each train is designed to carry 12 to 18 (depending on if it is a two or three car train).
Although the light rail is accessible, and we never had a problem with it, they really missed the boat by not making the entire platform at train height to increase capacity. We did see a couple of people left behind because there was no more room.
We took the train all the way to Union Station in Downtown Denver. It’s time to play ball!
Coors Field is three blocks away but construction around Union Station forced us to add a couple of blocks to that. Even so, it wasn’t a brutal march and we arrived in plenty of time for the game.
It was cold and gray but Tim got us great seats behind home plate that had just enough overhang from the deck above to protect us from the rain that would come later without blocking too much of our view. It was a chilly 43 degrees that would drop to a cold 38 by the time the afternoon game would finish.
The stadium is nice and retro-modern in the way so many baseball stadiums are these days. The food was decent but nothing to write home about. The draft beer selection was dominated by the namesake Coors brewery and most really craft brews were in bottles but there was still a decent selection on tap. Wine, cocktails, and hard liquor are readily available if you don’t like beer. Both food and beer prices were pretty reasonable for a major league stadium.
Denver is known as a home run park, due to being a mile high. In fact, if you look at the top deck, you’ll see a row of seats painted purple. This marks the exact mile high elevation spot.
Even with a center field a deep 415 feet away, we saw several balls leave the yard. The Rockies pushed ahead 7-1 but a devastating error by starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin in the 7th inning led to a big comeback by the visiting San Diego Padres, who went on to win 9-7 on that cold, rainy field.
MLB stadium number 21 was now in the books as our second coldest game, behind an April game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field where the temp was 26 degrees with a wind chill factor of 16. Still, it was a lot of fun and Denver is a nice stadium.
We didn’t eat too much at the game and we were hungry afterward. A two block walk took us to the Wynkoop Brewery on the corner of 18th and Wynkoop. Although the place looked full, there were actually quite a few tables open at this huge dining room so we were seated immediately.
Denver likes to call itself the “Napa Valley of Beer” which is a pretty apt description. With over 100 microbreweries and a couple of majors, I think it should be called the Belgium of the USA, but that might be a little beyond some people’s understanding.
Wynkoop is one of the oldest of the microbreweries. You can taste their different varieties for $1 for each 5 ounce taster. We tasted a few with our dinner of gumbo, bratwurst sausage mac ‘n cheese, and a delicious buttermilk fried chicken.
Our first major meal in Denver was quite a success.
Meal over, it was back on the light rail to the hotel and time to rest up for the next part of our trip.
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
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