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Posted: Sunday, 04 April 2010 8:08AM

Buffalo Among the "Top Ten Places for a Baseball Pilgrimage"




Buffalo, NY (WBEN) -- Baseball buff and Atlanta-based journalist Graham Knight has ranked Buffalo's Coca-Cola Field one of the nation's "top ten places for a baseball pilgrimage."

For this particular top ten list, Knight looked only at minor-league baseball stadiums across the country. He tells WBEN, the primary reason he chose Coca-Cola field was for the integrity of its architectural design.

"So many ballparks today... they don't make 'em the same, like they used to," Knight says. "But when Buffalo's -- it was originally called Pilot Field -- opened in 1988, that kind of set the standard for what was to follow."

Knight says that "Camden Yards in Baltimore gets most of the credit" for establishing a retro look and intimate setting for fans to experience the game in. "It opened four years later, but it was designed by the same architectural firm [Populous, formerly known as HOK Sport]. They really built their reputation from what they did in Buffalo in 1988 when Pilot Field opened at a cost of $42 million. So that was the main reason that I chose Buffalo."

Knight notes that, beginning this season, Coca-Cola Field will also be the biggest minor-league stadium in America. Only two other ballparks rival Coca-Cola Field's capacity -- one is being torn down, and the other is being converted into a soccer facility.

The rankings were based not just on the ballparks themselves, but on what the cities they're located in have to offer in the way of tourist attractions.

"[Coca-Cola Field] is really kind of the grandfather of the of the modern-retro ballpark built in a downtown city center, with a lot to do before and after the game," Knight says. "One thing that I found interesting in doing some research about Coca-Cola Field is that each year since 2002, they've hosted the National Buffalo Wing Festival on Labor Day weekend. You could go up there, see a game at the field maybe on Thursday, and then Friday-Saturday-Sunday, partake in the Wing Festival."

Knight also cites Coca-Cola Field's proximity to the waterfront and the city of Niagara Falls as part of its appeal.

Knight's picks were featured in Friday's edition of USA Today. You can read the full list by clicking here.

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