03 August 2007

Swisher Suites

Note: I had planned to post this last weekend in honor of the awakening of Nick Swisher's then-slumbering bat.

While the A's were in Anaheim last week, Lew Wolff spent an inning in the TV booth with broadcasters Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse. The exercise was a effectively a shameless, 15-minute plug for Cisco Field, with a few words for critics who've been grousing about the plan. During the discussion, Wolff alluded to Nick Swisher's interest in one of the condos that will overlook the park. While I'm sure Swish can afford a sure-to-be $1 million-plus party pad, he might want to consider looking elsewhere in the ballpark for options.

One of those options probably won't be a bunker suite, a swanky, hidden burrow underneath the seating bowl and supposedly first conceived for the Bushes at what was then The Ballpark in Arlington. I wouldn't be surprised if current veep Dick Cheney had a command center running out of Rangers Ballpark with the way that stadium ran right over public process, but I digress. Cisco Field will most certainly have at least one bunker suite and perhaps more, space permitting.

Players often get suites on a per-game or annual basis for friends and family. For the inaugural season of Qwest Field, three Seattle Seahawks
each grabbed a field-level "Red Zone" suite. At Cisco Field, a new seating option will be introduced that could prove extremely flexible: the minisuite. Wolff originally described the concept as a 4 or 6-person box with separate restrooms and other facilities. However, it's a little more than that, as you can see from the pic below.

Yes, there are four seats facing the field with a two stools on a rail and a wetbar behind them. The french doors are a nice touch, giving the boxes a very cute look. But it's what's behind the doors that makes it interesting.

As you can see, the four boxes share a common lounge area. There's a buffet, additional seating areas, flat screen TV's, even a fireplace (!). I'm sure there'll be neat Cisco-conceived technological touches. Not sure where the restrooms are.

The A's are going to offer 40 of these boxes at Cisco Field just above the field club level, 15 rows from the backstop. Supposedly they'll be sold to medium and small businesses that wouldn't normally consider getting a large 12-person suite. Minisuites should serve as a niche between club seats and large suites.

Something tells me these will really take off, and not just for the initial audience. A group of players (and their wives) may want to pool resources to get a block of four minisuites. The same could apply for various professional groups such as law firms. In this era of consumers seeking out VIP treatment and ultralounges, this concept fits extremely well. I wonder if it will end up eating into sales of other premium seating options. During the 90's, baseball purists bemoaned the emergence of suites, envisioning future stadia with virtually all seats replaced by air-conditioned, sealed boxes. The minisuite concept and its successors will give the purists more grist for the mill, that's for certain.