Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ranking the MLB Ballparks

At the beginning of every series Braves radio producer Brian Giffin posts a photo of every stadium the Braves play in. When I arrive at a ballpark for a game, I always have the same urge. Away.com ranked their top fourteen ballparks, so I decided to rank them myself. Might as well mention all thirty.

Even the worst ballparks have many positive features. Unlike other fans, I’m not completely turned off by retractable roof stadiums. I’ve ranked six of the older stadiums last, and clumped the twenty-two newer parks with retro features in the middle. Of these, seven stand above the others. Baseball’s two cathedrals stand alone at the top.

30. Oakland Coliseum (I’ve seen it): sharing this old round structure with the football Raiders, the always empty outfield upper deck is a downer. The A’s are working on a new park.
29. SkyDome, Toronto: a magnificent structure, though the Astroturf makes for a generic baseball experience.
28. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg (I visited there): the most hated dome in baseball, but I like its intimate feel. And parking is free.
27. Edison International Field, Anaheim (seen): another old multi-purpose stadium that’s gone through several facelifts. I like the rocks and water in centerfield.
26. Dodger Stadium (seen): A fine ballpark with great views. Fans arrive late and don’t fill the park like they used to. (9th ranked by away.com)
25. Kaufman Stadium, Kansas City (seen): an under-rated gem, with flowing outfield fountains. Driving past the stadium on the interstate when the park is full is a sight to see. (13th)

24. US Cellular Field, Chicago 1991 (seen): one of the first retro stadiums. Nice outer façade.
23. Great American Park, Cincinnati 2003: its great how the downtown stadium opens up to the river, though I greatly dislike the gap in the stands between home and third base.
22. Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix 1998: features the swimming pool in right field.
21. Progressive Field, Cleveland: an ok, downtown ballpark. (14th)
20. Coors Field, Denver: great views of the Rocky Mountains and downtown Denver. Nice outfield setting, with the trees. (5th)
19. Safeco Field, Seattle: another good downtown park. (8th)
18. Turner Field, Atlanta 1997 (visited): nice sightlines of downtown. Away.com ranked it high because of Atlanta’s many other attractions. The Home Depot Tool Race is popular with the fans, thought I’d like to see something a little less commercial. (6th)
17. Comerica Park, Detroit 2000: another good downtown park, with many tiger statues.
16. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (visited): the first retro stadium, Camden Yards may still have the most unique ballpark attributes. Perhaps the best named ballpark. Close by Baltimore’s inner harbor. (10th)
15. Marlins Park, 2012: as baseball’s newest attraction, it’s the one everyone is raving about. It’s great how it’s built on the old Orange Bowl site, not far from downtown and the ocean. I’m not crazy about the sun thing in centerfield.
14. Target Field, Minneapolis 2010: great downtown sightlines.
13. Nationals Park, Washington 2008: nice stone facades, with views of the capitol dome. Unique presidential race, between Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.
12. Chase Field, New York 2010: nice brick façade reminiscent of Ebbets Field.
11. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia 2004: most games are sellouts, enabling the Phillies to spend extravagantly on free agents.
10. Busch Stadium, St. Louis: appreciative fans pack the park. Great views of downtown and the arch.

9. Miller Park, Milwaukee: Bernie Brewer and the sausage race.
8. Petco Park, San Diego: wonderful outfield façade. (7th)
7. Rangers Stadium (visited): I love how the outfield stands are configured. (12th)
6. Minute Maid Park, Houston 2000 (visited): an intimate feel, with several unique features: the short leftfield porch, odd outfield angles, and the hill and flagpole in centerfield. All in a clean downtown setting.
5. PNC Park, Pittsburgh: great views of the bridges and downtown. (2nd)
4. Yankee Stadium 2010: the builders did a great job replacing one of baseball’s shrines. (3rd)
3. AT&T Field, San Francisco (visited): great sightlines of the bay, with many other great features: the rightfield façade, the vintage glove in left, etc. (11th)

2. Wrigley Field (visited): wonderful neighborhood and atmosphere. Tanked tops by away.com.
1. Fenway Park (visited): better than Wrigley. (4th)

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