Safeco Field, Seattle
It doesn’t have ivy-covered outfield walls or a Green Monster, but Safeco Field, which replaced the later-demolished Kingdome as the Seattle Mariners’ home in 1999, does score very high among the relatively new major league ballparks in terms of architecture, ambience, aesthetics and overall fan experience. Good thing, too, because the Mariners are the only American League franchise never to play in a World Series, a dubious distinction the team shares with the Washington Nationals (née Montreal Expos), the only National League franchise without a Series appearance.
And there’s no denying that Safeco Field, or The Safe, is a jewel in the Emerald City’s crown. Located in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood (South of Dome or South of Downtown — take your pick), Safeco Field is a retro-modern-style ballpark that combines features from 1950s-era ballparks (e.g., a brick façade and a front-entrance rotunda) with amenities common in ballparks constructed around the turn of the 21st century.
Safeco Field sits in an area that borders Pioneer Square, a historic district teeming with restaurants, bars, artist studios and shops. Seattle Alehouse is known for its microbrews, such as Curve Ball Blonde Ale. Sluggers Sports Bar also has lots of microbrews and signed Mariners memorabilia on the wall. F.X. McRory’s Steak Chop & Oyster House is known for its oysters and extensive scotch/bourbon menu. Jimmy’s on First is an upscale bar where KJR Sports Radio does game-day broadcasts. (Try Jimmy’s Giant Bacon Wrapped Brat, a deep-fried, footlong sausage with smoked bacon and provolone cheese on a pretzel roll. Yum.) Hole-in-the-wall types will love the Triangle Pub, a favorite among neighborhood locals. Order a “man can” (24-ounce beer special), and you’ll fit right in. The Central Saloon offers up some appetizing fried feta cheese sticks, and Swannies Sports Bar and Restaurant became famous during the Kingdome era when it offered well drinks for the price of poor-hitting catcher Dave Valle’s batting average.