La Velle E. Neal III's Sunday Insider: Ballpark rankings get revision

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 24, 2012 - 8:32 AM

After finally visiting PNC Park, this writer can officially declare what was presumed already: It makes the top five.

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Safeco Field in Seattle

Photo: Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

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After hearing so much about PNC Park in Pittsburgh, I finally covered a series there for the first time last week. I tweeted a picture of the view from the press box, and the questions began rolling in.

"How does it rank with your favorites?" @TylerRHartman wanted to know.

So, now having been to 25 of the 30 current major league ballparks, I guess it's time to update my list of the top five ballparks in the game, from fifth to first.

5. AT&T Park, San Francisco: The view of San Francisco Bay behind the right field seats is fantastic -- if you're in the upper deck. Folks in the lower deck can't see it. It is cool to walk around and stand behind the right field seats and be by the bay, at least. Kids love the slide that's inside that soda bottle in left field. But if you're at the concession area, you can't look out on the field. And you have to jostle with stadium employees because there's no service level. It's still a great park, though.

4. Camden Yards, Baltimore: A great park that opens up to downtown. Love how the park blends in with the warehouse in right. There's also great barbecue in right field, good enough to blow off the press dining room once a series. The press box is in range of several foul balls each game. A ball bounced into the box once and I picked it up and gave it to a kid in the stands. Did he thank me? No. He turned toward the field and yelled, "I'm number one!" Ugh.

3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh: The Kasota stone immediately reminds you of Target Field. There are fantastic statues around the park. The view, of the Roberto Clemente Bridge and downtown Pittsburgh, is the best in baseball, without question. I could watch boats sail up and down the Allegheny River for nine innings. The location of the press box stinks and the smell coming out of the bathroom is indescribable, but I still really like this park.

2. Target Field, Minnesota: It beats out PNC Park by a hair because it was well done on so many levels. The shaking hands logo, adding the second scoreboard over right field. Twins Tower is hard to describe, but it works. There's no river to look at, but the downtown skyline is nice. Food selections are fabulous. And don't underestimate the ability to look out at the field from the concourse, which you can't do in San Francisco or Baltimore. To me, it's the total package.

1. Safeco Field, Seattle: I've been there when it's been full and when it's empty. When it's been warm and when I've had to bundle up. And I've loved every minute of it. It's a retro feel with a retractable roof. Downtown Seattle is on one side and Puget Sound is on the other. The food I've had has been great. You can watch the game from the concourse. They play great music. The press box is spacious and it's not hard to get to the clubhouse. Brick-by-brick, pound-for-pound, the best ballpark in baseball.

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Illinois 73
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Southern U 80
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Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
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Siena 75 FINAL
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Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
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UNLV 84
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Northwestern St 61
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Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
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