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Decisions, decisions, decisions…where should I sit, Joe? The Coors Field purple row at 5,280 feet above sea level, the upper deck at Pac Bell with sweet San Francisco Bay views, or down by George Will, Billy Crystal and the chums behind the dugout?

Well, fellow ballpark nerd, securing field level seats isn't easy pickings at many a yard when you consider season ticket holders often grab these bad boys. Plus, the seats aren't exactly cheap either. And so NOW you understand why you've come for help…

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No aspect of the ballpark tour experience is more important than your seats - at the actual ballpark! If you're on a budget, this task is even more daunting because often times - but not always - the best seats are also the most expensive. And when they're sold out, they're even more expensive from scalpers.

But don't fear my friend, for there is help and "A Fan's Guide To The Ultimate Ballpark Tour: Fully Loaded!" is just the tool to help you through the seating malaise. Still, you didn't click on this article just to hear another promotion for Joe's guide. So, without further adieu, here are some givens that might help you determine the best place to sit your caboose:

1. Seating along the outfield lines beyond first and third base still generally stinks everywhere, even in new "baseball only" ballparks. Why? Concepts in design. You're in a part of the ballpark with the least full-scale action, and therefore some of the least intimate seating. An exception to the rule is if the bullpens are down the lines and you can secure seats within earshot.

2. Not all "view" or "upper deck seats" are that bad. Sure, the view and upper deck seats at many a ballpark are downright horrific, but there are exceptions to this rule at certain old, classic ballparks and some of the newer ones. PNC Park in Pittsburgh, for example, has great seats in the upper deck. And I'm not just talking about the views of the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the downtown skyline or the river. The sight lines are a terrific bang for your buck.

3. Weekday tickets are often far easier to come by than weekend tickets or those on a "promotion night." Not even the prized Yankees come close to selling out tickets on many an occasion and the "House that Ruth Built" still has some of the best seating options in Major League Baseball.

4. One of the greatest aspects of the new ballparks is that you can roam around the entire ballpark and admire views from different parks of the yard. However, there are exceptions to this rule at certain other ballparks, which I discuss in the guide.

5. If you're so inclined, at many a ballpark you can move down to better seats without anyone noticing, especially at weekday or weeknight games. Weekend games may be the exception to this general rule.

6. The best seats don't necessarily have the best views. Sure, seats behind the dugout or the backstop are primo, but did you also know that fans sitting in the field level at Pac Bell Park don't have those great views of the San Francisco Bay? You see, there is hope for the middle class chum. In fact, some of the best views can be had in some of the cheapest or most affordable seats, which also have some of the best sight lines. San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Detroit and Seattle come to mind, for example.

Picking the appropriate seat isn't easy, and online seating charts only do so much justice if you've never been to a ballpark. I've been lucky enough to go to all of them and "A Fan's Guide To The Ultimate Ballpark Tour: Fully Loaded!" details where you can get the best bang for your buck at every ballpark.

Joe Connor is the founder of and the creator of "A Fan's Guide To The Ultimate Ballpark Tour: Fully Loaded!," which is available for purchase right off the home page. Click here to view a sample of the guide!

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Jun 07 2002, 03:20:31
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