Thursday, September 08, 2005

August 28 was the date of our long-awaited visit to Safeco Field for a game between the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox. On our last visit to Seattle in 1999, I had missed the opening of Safeco by about six weeks. This did give me the opportunity see the Kingdome, but it took me until this year to get back to Seattle to finally visit Safeco.

We left the hotel and found parking for $5 about a 10 minute walk from the ballpark. The one thing you really don't appreciate about Safeco from seeing it on TV is just how big the retractable roof is. We came up on the ballpark from the rear - not on the famous Ebbets Field-like facade, but on the giant track system where they keep the roof when it's not covering the ballpark. It's just huge.

We entered the ballpark and quickly found our seats. Like many of the post-Camden Yards ballparks, Safeco has a wide concourse behind the seating area that contains the concession stands. We had decent seats in the lower deck on the first base side. They were fairly far back, but they were nice and roomy and my knees weren't jammed into the back of the seat in front of me. There were no poles in the way, either.

Once again taking a page from other new ballparks, you have a view of the city skyline from Safeco, although it's not nearly as dramatic as the view you get from Camden Yards or PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The ballpark itself is nice and clean, but is a bit more generic than some of the other new parks.

The ballpark has nice facilities. There is a children's play area, a nice souvenir shop and many of the other amenities that are common in the newer ballparks.

One place Safeco really shines is in food selection. We mostly stuck to traditional ballpark fare (all of which was quite good), but you could get submarine sandwiches, Thai food, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and chocolate covered strawberries. The topper was the sushi bar, which featured "Ichirolls"!

The game itself was entertaining, but not terribly competitive. I expected a good pitching matchup as Jamie Moyer was starting for Seattle against fomer Mariner ace Freddy Garcia in his first game at Safeco since being traded last year. Unfortunately, Garcia didn't hold up his part of the bargain, giving up 8 runs in 4 and 1/3 innings. J. was happy to see his favorite player, Ichiro Suzuki, go 2 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Seattle won the game 9-2 over the White Sox, much to the delight of the low-key West Coast crowd.

Overall, Safeco was a very nice, modern ballpark, and I certainly enjoyed watching a game there. However, the place didn't blow me away like Camden Yards or PNC Park. Safeco seemed a little more generic than those ballparks. It lacked the cool touches like the warehouse in Baltimore.

My biggest problem with Safeco was that it seemed very disconnected from the city of Seattle. While ballparks like Camden Yards, PNC and Fenway are integral parts of their cities on game days, Safeco is located at the intersection of Interstates 5 and 90. While this makes for great automobile access to the ballpark, it means that it is surrounded by feeder roads and on ramps instead of restaurants and bars. I think this was an unfortunate choice and hurts the ambiance of the park.

If I gave Safeco a grade, it would probably be a solid B. It's a good, but not great ballpark that is lacking the atmosphere that the truly great parks have.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker