Comparing Fenway vs. Safeco much like comparing Boston vs Seattle

On Friday, July 11th I was lucky enough to take in my very first Red Sox game at Fenway park here in Boston.

I’ve attending many games at Safeco field in Seattle, but going to a different ballpark truly was novel.

I’m still pretty excited thinking about my experience a week later, and have described the evening at Fenway to a number of my peers back west. I got into the habit of comparing the evening to an evening at Safeco, and I started to realize that comparing my first couple weeks in Boston to my time spent living in Seattle. Both (Fenway and Boston, Safeco and Seattle) are absolutely amazing, stunning, and beautiful cities and ball parks in their own rights. A lot of people could argue they are tops in the league and country. Here’s my take on Fenway and Boston, and how it compares to Safeco and Seattle.

1. Everything seems so tight and confined, at Fenway.

Fenway is small. Seating capacity, I would guess, would be around 38,000. It’s crammed full, a sell out every evening. The walkways are full of fans, herded together like cattle on their way to their seats. The space between these seats is similar to that found between seats on an airplane.

Safeco, while a quaint ballpark itself, is much more spread out. The 38,000 that attend the typical game are sprinkled amongst nearly 50 thousand seats, resulting in a much more spread out feel.

I very much get this closed in, confined feeling traveling around Boston. The turnpike is narrower (but with as many cars), the subways are shoulder to shoulder, the streets themselves seem to be even more crammed with commuters than the massive I5, 405, or 520. Maybe it’s just me, but Seattle, as a result of all of the hills, trees, lakes, ponds and inlets, just seems so much more spread out.

2. The second I set foot inside Fenway, it felt like I’d walked back in time.

Fenway is old, creaky, and smells a little musky, much like you’re granddads house.

Safeco was designed (like all stadiums built in the 1990’s) to feel like an old ball park. It does great job of this for the most part, deep down you know you’re in a new park. That’s the price you pay for some of the luxuries of cushioned seats, wider aisles, and elevators that take you to upper levels.

While Seattle has it’s definite touch of history (especially walking around Pioneer Square), there’s no denying Boston’s place in American history.

3. There’s an unmistakable touch of attitude in the air in Fenway.

It just so happened that our seats were exactly in the middle of the isle. Of course because of this and the fact we showed up at the game late, there was much ado when we arrived, and forced people to stand up. For the rest of the game, my friendly seat neighbors, when not harassing the Baltimore batter or pitcher, would remind me about making them get up to let us in. This was always followed by saying that it could all be made up by “picking up a dozen beers for the row.”

It seems cliché stating that Seattlites and Mariner’s fans seem a bit more laid back, but it truly feels like they’re too busy instant messaging on their phones, browsing the web on their iphones, checking their Microsoft stock, to worry about harassing their opposition or their aisle neighbors.

4. Deciding what to eat really was deciding on how long of a hot dog I would get.

Fenway celebrates baseball, as baseball has been celebrated for a hundred years. This means that when I go up to buy dinner at the park, I can buy, a hotdog, a lukewarm pretzel, peanuts, and if I’m lucky a big slab of greasy pizza. No low fat, low calorie, no meat option. That’s a far cry from the Ichiroll (that’s a sushi roll), cashew cicken stir fry, Mexican Burito, or Salmon sandwhich that I can get at Safeco. Boston definitely has it’s share of ethnic restaurants, but in my 2 weeks here I’d say that the pizza and submarine sandwhich shops outnumber the Thai, Chinese, and sushi restaurants 5 to 1. In Seattle, I’d say it’s exactly opposite.

Obviously this is hardly scratching the surface of the differences between the cities (I’m sure the cuisine is the least of which any detailed comparison would discuss). However, any comparison, by it’s very nature is highly subjective. And for a kid who is still excited about his first Red Sox game, this seemed to resonate the obvious differences.

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