Get to Know the Venue: Coors Field

25 years ago, the Colorado Rockies became the 28th franchise in Major League Baseball, joining the Florida Marlins in the great expansion of 1993. In their first two seasons of play, they played at the home of the Denver Broncos, Mile High Stadium. At the same time, their new home, Coors Field, was being built on the edge of LoDo (Lower Downtown) at the intersection of 20th and Blake Streets.

Coors Field was built as a retro-modern ballpark built from brick and steel, seating 50,000, and features a clock tower at the park’s home plate entrance. The ballpark is the highest in the Major Leagues in terms of elevation, and in the upper deck, the 20th row of seats are not colored forest green, but in majestic purple, to mark Denver’s official elevation altitude of 5,280 feet one mile exactly above sea level. One feature that carried on from Mile High Stadium is a seating section called the Rockpile. The original Rockpile was the right field bleachers at Mile High Stadium. Coors Field’s Rockpile is located in straightaway center field above the batter’s eye. The Rockpile is the cheapest ticket at Coors Field, with seats going for as low as $4 ($1 on game day for kids under 12/senior citizens over 55), depending on who the Rockies’ opponent is for the game. And since this is Coors Field, Coors Field became the first Major League ballpark to have an in-house brewery. The SandLot Brewery, which is located in right field, opened on the same day as the first Rockies game at Coors Field back in 1995. Founder/Head Brewmaster Dr. Keith Villa and fellow Brewmaster John Legnard use the brewery to create Artfully Crafted beers, such as  Slugger Stout, Right Field Red, Power Alley ESB, and a fan favorite called Bellyslide Wit. Bellyslide Wit, a variation of the Belgian Wit brewed with a hint of Valencia orange peel, was so successful, Villa wanted to sell the beer outside the ballpark. During a tasting, an administrator for the Coors Brewing Company said “You know, a beer that tastes this good comes around only once in a blue moon.” And for the next decade, the beer that was ballpark-exclusive suddenly became Blue Moon Belgian White wheat ale. In the last 20 years, Blue Moon Brewing Company has become one of the largest craft beer brands in this country, with Blue Moon Belgian White winning the Gold Medal at the World Beer Championship in 1995 and Silver Medals in 1996 and 1997. In 2008, the SandLot Brewery renamed itself as the Blue Moon Brewing Company at the SandLot, and this past off-season, became a year-round destination.

When Coors Field was designed, it was designed with an abnormally large outfield in mind. Since a baseball in flight travels farther the higher the elevation is above sea level, a ball that is hit 400 feet at Yankee Stadium would go 40 feet longer at Coors Field. In 1999, a Major League-record 303 home runs were hit out of Coors Field. To help find a way to “neutralize” the ballpark, a scientific study determined that it wasn’t the thin air that was the cause of all those home runs hit out of the park, but rather how dry the air was. A ball stored in dry air is more harder, and when hit, is susceptible to stretch when hit by a bat. In 2002, a room-sized humidor to house game balls was built to control humidity surrounding the ball, and hopefully, “neutralize” the ballpark. In the humidor’s first year of use, the number of home runs hit at Coors Field decreased from 268 in 2001 to 232 in 2002. In 2014, renovations removed all but the first five rows of seating in the upper deck of right field to create The Rooftop at Coors Field; a 38,000 square-foot food, drink, and entertainment venue open to all guests throughout the game. The final feature of Coors Field is located underneath the Rockpile. The Water Feature located between the Batter’s Eye and the bullpens was designed to bring the Colorado wilderness into the ballpark. The Water Feature consists of a pond lined with native rocks and trees, three 10-foot waterfalls, and seven fountain jets, which shoot water approximately 40 feet into the air before every game, after every Rockies home run, during the seventh inning stretch, and after every Rockies win.

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