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Game savers

Longtime Giants fans Frank and Gayle Dilles of Santa Rosa have been accumulating memorabilia and inside knowledge on attending the games at AT&T Park.

JOHN BURGESS/PD
Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.

A trip to AT&T Park has gotten so expensive that one Giants baseball game can nearly blow your entire vacation budget, if you have a big family and don't want to sit in the nosebleed section.

But thanks to our readers, we've come up with a few creative ideas for trimming back the high cost of tickets, parking, food and drink.

These penny-pinching tips give the seventh-inning stretch a whole new meaning. As we head into another season, here are some ideas for experiencing World Champion baseball on a Rolling Rock budget.

“Ballpark” Frank Dilles of Santa Rosa has been a Giants fan ever since the team moved out in 1958 from New York. He and his wife, Gayle, try to go to about 15 games a year.

To save a few bucks, the Dilles take the regular ferry from Larkspur to the Ferry Building, trimming $12 from their cost. (The ferry directly to the ballpark now costs $11 one way, while the regular ferry costs $5 one way for seniors.)

“We enjoy the scenic stroll along the Embarcadero to AT&T Park,” Frank said. “We've done that for night games, too.”

On the way home, they always take the ferry at the ballpark to Larkspur. (Starting this year, those ferries can be booked at www.sfgiants.com.)

They also pack their own light snacks — peanuts, potato chips, carrots — along with bottles of iced tea. Then they purchase a hot dog or a cheesesteak sandwich at the park.

“That saves me quite a bit,” Frank said. “I can get a six-pack of iced tea for $6, and one iced tea at the park is going to be $5.”

They also purchase tickets from a family friend who has season tickets, saving them about $5 to $10 per ticket, depending on the game.

“She lets us pick out the games we want to go to,” he said. “And we pay her face value on what they cost her.”

Marijayne Wernett of Santa Rosa, a Giants season ticketholder for the past 15 years, goes to the park so often that she has the routine honed to a science.

She always parks for $15 in a lot at Harrison, between Second and Third streets, which allows her to get in and out quickly.

“I walk fast, so I can make it in seven minutes to the park,” she said. “You're never stuck behind a car, and there's no back-up. It saves time and money.”

Once at the park, she will eat a simple meal that she has packed. She also brings four or five bottles of water, which would cost $4.75 each at the park.

“Frankly, I don't like most of the food there,” she said. “And I go so often, there's no way I could afford to pay the prices.”

Occasionally, she will buy a hot dog, but she makes sure she gets the most banger for her buck.

“The best deal in the whole ballpark is the Giant Dog at the Doggie Diner hot dog stand,” she said. “It's only $4.75, and you can put sauerkraut and grilled onions on it, so you've got a full meal.”

To avoid the soaring parking fees, other North Bay residents have come up with hybrid plans combining driving with public transportation.

Connie and Bob Rogers of Santa Rosa drive to the Marina Green and park for free. Then they take the Stockton bus going east, which costs 75 cents one way for seniors.

“It drops us within a block of the ballpark,” Connie said. “The ride takes about 30 minutes each way.”

The Rogers also bring sandwiches and peanuts from home, then buy a beer at the park. They purchase tickets from their son, who has season tickets.

Jerry Coleman of Sebastopol said he drives all the way to the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station, then takes a train to the game.

“We avoid 19th Avenue, going through the Presidio out 25th to Golden Gate Park, then down Sunset to 280,” he said. “Parking is usually free in the BART lot at ballgame hours, and train fare is cheap.”

Other fans are taking more drastic action. Gary Miksis of Healdsburg is switching teams for the sake of his family's budget.

“This year, we're going to be green-collar baseball,” said the father of four teenagers. “It's cheaper to go to Oakland. Parking is half. Tickets are half.”

He decided to convert after his family took a trip to Pittsburgh, Pa., last year and snagged tickets to a few Pirates-Giants games for just $6 a seat. The seats were in the ninth row behind the dugout.

If you're really on a tight budget, take a tip from A's fan Mandy Hoffman of Santa Rosa, who goes to games on Chevy free parking Tuesdays, when outfield seats are $4 and parking is free.

“We take our own food and tailgate,” she said. “It's a cheap, fun night for us.”

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-528 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com.

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