Whether it’s watching Buster Posey as he catches a fly ball or hearing the loud pops of Hunter Pence’s bat making contact with a baseball during batting practice, Giants fans will step a bit closer to their favorite athletes with the introduction of virtual reality technology at AT&T Park this season.
The technology was announced during the Giants’ annual media open house Tuesday, where attendees experienced the franchise’s first of several planned full-immersion videos prior to the stadium’s 17th season opener next week. The Giants are entering the first even-year season since winning the World Series in all three previous even years of 2010, 2012 and 2014.
“You’ll be in the dugout, on the field,” said Giants Executive Vice President Mario Alioto of the virtual reality videos. “You’re practically a member of the team.”
The Giants plan to display five sets of goggles for attendees to view the videos at the @Cafe, located behind the centerfield bleachers, with potential for expansion, according to Bill Schlough, a vice president for the team.
The team has partnered with virtual reality production company Jaunt to create the videos — the first of which transports viewers to spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona using Samsung Gear VR goggles and headphones. Jaunt is a Palo Alto-based computer software company that uses a specially-designed camera to capture the 360 degree videos, according to their website.
Talks of pairing virtual reality with the ballgame experience started at the end of the season last year, according to Jaunt President Cliff Plummer. Though other professional baseball teams have experimented with the full-immersion video technology, the Giants are the first Major League Baseball team to incorporated the technology at this extent, Plummer said.
“[This] is the year of virtual reality,” Plummer said. “It’s about creating good content for consumers and for Giants fans. This is an experience that you can’t buy.”
Virtual reality isn’t the only new development at AT&T Park this season. Improvements to the stadium’s Wi-Fi system included bringing the number of access points to 1,628, the most in any MLB facility, according to Giants officials.
Food and drink offerings are receiving a boost as well. Vintage 58, the in-stadium wine bar, plans to add fine cheeses and fruits to pair with their wine selection. McCovey’s BBQ Kiosk is set to offer a pulled pork sandwich, which can be customized after a visit to the BBQ sauce bar.
The ballpark is also extending its partnership with San Francisco-based Anchor Brewery, serving the Orange Splash Lager on draft in the Anchor Beer Garden, which was initially introduced at the stadium last September for what was supposed to be a limited time.
Giants CEO Larry Baer said Tuesday’s event was a reminder that a new season for the San Francisco Giants was about to begin.
“Every year, this is a favorite day because it means a lightbulb goes on and everything starts to kick in, in terms of the season being real and literally around the corner,” Baer said.
The Giants will kick of their first game in the regular season April 7 when they play the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The only question left is whether the Giants will continue their even-year streak.
New food items offered to fans during the 2016 SF Giants season at SF Giants Media Day at AT&T Park Tuesday March 29, 2016. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)