I went to two games at the Seibu Dome this weekend. They were awesome and the Fighters completed a nice sweep of the Lions to move into first place. But in the meantime, before the game on Sunday, thanks to my friend Hiromi giving me an actual infield ticket that her husband couldn't use, we got to go exploring around all the neat new things they built into the stadium over the winter remodelling. Check it out!
This is what it looks like from the outfield. All you can see from there is that there's stuff there and several levels...
First off, they cut the bullpens in half to make new "field seats". During BP these sections have screens up still, but during the game they take them down and give people gloves and tell them "for the love of god, watch out for batted balls, and don't sue us if you get hit by one, you knew what you were getting into when you bought this ticket."
Here are the new picnic tables. There are 64 of them -- I guess 32 on each side, though I didn't actually count.
One picnic stand. I guess in theory it seats 5 people, but I bet you could easily squeeze at least 6 in there.
I snuck into a picnic stand to get a photo :)
This is the floor right above the picnic stands -- called "Ls Winner". There's just a food stand there, which seems to specialize in junk food, mostly fried stuff and some ice cream.
This is the next floor up, called Ls Store, despite that there is no store there. Another junkfood stand, but this one at least had more variety in the food they sold, and more importantly, you might notice there's a hallway to the right which leads to bathrooms and an elevator.
There are two HUGE bathrooms back here, with a new Lions logo between them (yes, that's me posing, Hiromi thought it'd be a funny shot). The bathrooms are super-nice, but the REAL point is that you can access them from the concourse halfway up the stadium. In the old days you had to climb all the way to the top to use the crummy bathrooms, so THIS is a vast improvement.
The "1st floor" has what is called the Ls Cafe. This is actually a pretty nice place, there isn't really seating inside or anything, BUT what is neat is that it's cafeteria-style serving, so you just go in and get a tray and grab whatever you want and pay at a register. There's a wide variety of stuff, too, burgers and sandwiches to spaghetti to curry rice to whatever. And they have TVs in there and an Asia Series flag and stuff.
There is a big spiral staircase to go up to the next level. It's kind of cool. Though I have to wonder what it would be like if a LOT of people were walking on it at once...
At the top level, you see a... um... "Rocker Room", which is either a joke, or a mistake, I am not sure which. Like a pun on locker room, only my guess is that they seriously don't know how to spell Locker. But either way, they sell beer and snacks and small food items. Next to it is another mini-shop, which sells some goods from the away team, and some Lions goods as well.
There is also a pizza truck parked behind the dome on this level for some reason. I guess maybe it is only there some of the time?
And once you get to the top, this is what it looks like to look down on the field...
But in my opinion, the most important addition to the dome is the Special Miso Katsudon. YUM! Ojisan told me about this on Saturday, so on Sunday I just had to try it. Miso katsu is a Nagoya-area specialty and I love it and never get to have it, so now I have another excuse to go to the Seibu Dome. How sad is that?
Anyway, pretty cool stuff. Unfortunately, however, you need to buy at least a reserved seat to get to see any of it -- outfield or infield unreserved tickets will not get you far enough infield to go into these restaurant areas. Infact, if you are sitting in outfield unreserved and you want food, I recommend getting it outside the stadium and bringing it in, because there is still absolutely nothing there. The miso katsu place required at least an infield unreserved seat IIRC -- we had to get past at least one set of guards to get there.
I don't know how many people will buy more expensive seats just for the sake of seeing all of this new stuff, at least on a regular basis, but I would recommend doing it at least once. I also would love to sit in the picnic seats for a game at least one time, it looks like fun. (Hmm... according to the Lions ticket page, it's fairly cheap to get seats there if you are a fan club member -- though still, day-of B tickets are only 3000 yen, so that isn't so bad, especially since outfield unreserved is 1800 yen day-of. And a picnic table, day-of, without fan club membership, is 16,000 yen, so 3200 per person if you get 5 people.)
Also, just as an aside: they have changed the home and away sides this year, so if you want to cheer for the Lions, you need to sit in LEFT field or on the THIRD BASE side this year, and if you want to cheer for the away team, sit in RIGHT field or on the FIRST BASE side. They join the Sapporo Dome and Miyagi Kleenex or whatever it's called this year in doing things this way.