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Major League Ballpark Review

I have been fortunate to have visited a total of 27 major league parks over the years (ten of these are no longer used for major league baseball). Here are my rankings based on the parks themselves, the general atmosphere in and around the park and some intangibles such as parking and ticket prices.

  1. Wrigley Field, Chicago (last visited: 1989)
    Wrigley may not have the modern amenities that the league's newer parks offer, but the incredible baseball atmosphere more than makes up for it. A Cubs game, especially in the daytime, is always a major event. The "friendly confines" offer a great seat from anywhere in the park ... and even outside the park if you are fortunate enough to live on one of the top floors across Sheffield or Waveland Avenues. During the game, kids (and some adults too) line the streets just beyond the left and rightfield bleachers hoping for a chance to catch a cherished home run ball. Part of the charm of Wrigley is that it is situated in a residential neighborhood. The park is truly part of the community. Cubs fans are incredibly knowledgable and loyal and seem to live and die with every pitch. Fenway and Wrigley are comparable in many ways but it is Wrigley that gets my vote for baseball's best park. FYI, it's been a long time since I've been to Wrigley. I hope to get back soon to see if Wrigley still deserves the top spot.

  2. Fenway Park, Boston (last visited: 2011)
    I hope I haven't offended the great shrine to baseball by ranking it second behind Wrigley. Perhaps if I had only been to Fenway Park once, I would have ranked it higher. Maybe I've been spoiled. In my humble opinion, the Green Monster is the greatest ballpark feature in major league baseball. Though I was skeptical initially, I think the Green Monster seats are a great addition. Fenway's quirkly dimensions and angles have, of course, been copied in many of the newly-constructed ballparks. On the down side, Fenway isn't the easy place to get around once you leave your seat but that's the reality of a 100-year-old park. The changes to the park over the past few years have been great.

  3. AT&T Park, San Francisco (2004)
    The home of the Giants is easily the most picturesque park I've visited. If you don't have a seat close to the field at AT&T Park, then you'll probably have a spectacular view of the Bay. Many seats offer both. As in Baltimore, the quirky dimensions are in right field, highlighted by an old-fashioned 20 foot tall brick wall. The park also looks great from the outside and is very close to many restaurants, bars and other attractions. Giants fans are among the best in baseball so you'll usually have the intensity of a great crowd. In short, don't miss AT&T Park if you visit San Francisco in the summer.

  4. Coors Field, Denver (1998)
    It was an unpleasantly cold April day when I visited Coors Field but I won't let that stop me from ranking the home of the Rockies fourth among my favorite major league ballparks. There are many things that I like about Coors field. First, the park was built so that the field is completely visible from the walkways that separate each level of seats. Even if you are in line for, I don't know ... a Sam Adams, you can still see the entire playing field. This also allows for great standing room visibility. The fountains in center field are a nice touch as well. The only truly bad seats in the house are in the deeply-discounted "Rock Pile" bleachers in center field. At the very top, I would guess that the seats must be 600 feet from home plate and maybe 200 feet above the ground (5,320 above sea level in case you're counting).

  5. Petco Park, San Diego (2004)
    I am thrilled that the country's greatest city finally has a ballpark in the downtown area. Petco Park certainly has some interesting features, including a warehouse in left field, a sandbox just beyond the right field wall and a giant hill beyond the stands in right-center field where people can throw down a beach towel and watch the game. The park's dimensions are almost silly with the right field wall about six miles from home plate. The park is located just a short walk from the great Gaslamp Quarter where there are loads of great bars and restaurants to visit both before and after the game.

  6. Safeco Field, Seattle (2003)
    Safeco Field in Seattle is the best of the new parks that I have visited. Thanks to the ground crew and nature (it never stops raining in Seattle), the playing field is a perfect green. Like AT&T Park, Coors Field and Oriole Park, Safeco is a nice blend of modern amenities with an old time feel like the manual scoreboard in left field. It is very easy to get to Safeco Field as it is less than a ten minute walk from downtown and leaving the park after the game was rather painless. Unlike the retractable dome park in Phoenix, Safeco doesn't feel like a domed stadium with a sun roof. When the dome is retracted, you quickly forget that it is there. The outside of Safeco Field offers a good view of the park from three sides (one side holds the dome when it is retracted). The one criticism that I have is the lack of bleacher seats close to the fence in leftfield. The leftfield bleachers are some of the best seats in every park and the Mariners missed the opportunity to allow more people to sit there.

  7. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore (1993)
    As the first new park to incorporate modern amenities with old-style features and dimensions, Oriole Park at Camden Yards became the blueprint for many of the new major league parks that have surfaced in the last decade. Oriole Park truly feels like an old baseball park, even more so than Coors Field. Not all of the seats in Oriole Park are great. In fact many face center field rather than home plate, but in general there isn't much to criticize. There is also plenty to do before and after games with the waterfront just a short walk from the stadium.

  8. Minute Maid Park, Houston (2004)
    I was very impressed with Minute Maid Park. Like Safeco Field, the retractable dome is not really all that noticable when the roof is open. The field has some quirky angles, including the hill in dead center field. The standing room only vantage point in left field is one of the best among the parks I have visited. The seats are very close to the field in most places and the concessions are better than average. On the negative side, downtown Houston is a little scary. When I visited in 2004 there was virtually no atmosphere around the ballpark. Note: Reader Derek tells me that downtown Houston has improved a lot in the past couple of years.

  9. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles (2012)
    I would say that Dodger Stadium is the best baseball park built between 1930-1990. A visit to Dodger Stadium also provides a great opportunity to upgrade from your original seat because most of the so-called Dodger fans are in their cars by the seventh inning stretch. The dimensions are symmetrical, but the view of the field is excellent and the weather is almost always perfect. The biggest drawback of Dodger Stadium is that there is no atmosphere outside of the park. Dodger Stadium is surrounded by a giant parking lot and there aren't any worthwhile bars or restaurants within walking distance of the park. In my most recent visit in 2012, I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the field.

  10. Nationals Park, Washington DC (2014)
    Nationals Park is a simple but nice modern ballpark and a good place to watch a game. I say simple because there really aren't any signature features or strange dimensions that you see in many parks. The park isn't far from the National Mall but you can't see the landmarks from most of the seats (I was in the rightfield upper deck and could just barely see the Washington Monument). One of the unique things about Nationals Park are the giant President mascots which race around the park in the fourth inning. They are quite amusing. Like Fenway, parking is scarce and the subways are crowded so getting to the game can be difficult. I didn't really check out the atmosphere around the park but I understand that the once rundown area is improving with some decent bar and restaurant options. Of course, there are plenty of concession options within the park.

  11. * Tiger Stadium, Detroit (1989)
    Among the ten stadiums that I have visited that no longer exist, Tiger Stadium is my favorite. Tiger Stadium had great dimensions and an excellent view of the field from almost anywhere in the park. Unfortunately, you wouldn't want to spend any time in the general vicinity of the park before or after games, especially after dark. The unique dimensions, including the second deck in right field that was actually closer to home plate that the right field fence, made Tiger Stadium one of a kind. It will be missed and so will the home runs.

  12. Angel Stadium, Anaheim (2007)
    My opinion of Angel Stadium is a bit biased because my first visit there was during the 1986 American League Championship Series. Thanks to Dave Henderson, it was a very special occasion for me. My upper deck seats were very high (like much of the Orange County crowd no doubt), but in a good location. With the renovations done a few years ago, Angel Stadium is now looks and feels like a real baseball park. The rocks beyond the fence are a nice touch and you can't discount the Rally Monkey.

  13. Rangers Ballpark, Arlington (2004)
    The first thing you notice about Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is its size. The place is enormous, but I guess that is appropriate for Texas where everything is big. The field is kept in exceptional condition and the center field area beyond the bleachers is pretty festive including a mini wiffle ball field. My trip to the Ballpark was disappointing only because the Red Sox lost both ends of a doubleheader that night. Like Dodger Stadium and Minute Maid Park, there is really nothing going on around the park. That is, unless you want to drive the two or three miles to Six Flags.

  14. Marlins Park, Miami (2012)
    Given the heat and humidity during the baseball season, I can't really fault the Marlins for building a retractable dome stadium as opposed to a fully open-air ballpark. I liked Marlins Park a little more than Chase Field in Phoenix and not quite as much as Minute Maid Park in Houston. On this plus side, tickets are affordable (I paid $30 to sit 20 rows up midway between third base and the left field wall). The park has good bleacher seating and there are two bars beyond the left field fence - one at ground level and one high above the field but still offering a pretty good view of the game. As someone who likes the traditional aspects of baseball parks, I didn't care for the cheerleaders (or dance squad or whatever they were), the ugly neon green walls or the hideous giant home run sculpture in centerfield. I know it's South Florida but that monstrosity is just too much!

  15. US Cellular Field, Chicago (2013)
    The home of the White Sox is a fairly nice looking ballpark. There are plenty of concession stands and a large open area above the bleachers where you can watch the game or walk around without constantly being bumped into. They built a bar where you can watch the game through the rightfield wall (much like the picnic area in Comiskey) and even have the shower that was popular at the old park. On the down side: incredibly uncomfortable bench bleacher seats (Why?!?), no real quirky elements (symmetrical) and, of course, the total lack of around-the-park atmosphere in the horrendous South Chicago neighborhood. The word that best describes US Cellular is mediocre.

  16. Chase Field, Phoenix (2003)
    Chase Field has one of the greatest features of any park in the majors with the swimming pool located just beyond the fence in the right field bleachers. The field has a nice look though it isn't very interesting or unique, other than the swimming pool. At the top of the park are giant pipes, which I imagine to be part of the building's cooling system (while I was in Phoenix, the locals were telling me that I was lucky that it was only 100 degrees). Between these pipes and the parking garage visible in right field, the park had a warehouse type of feel, especially from the upper deck seats. Even with the roof open, the park felt like a domed stadium. The outside of the park has very a good look and getting in and out was far easier than most parks. Chase Field is also situated next to the downtown area so there are plenty of eating and drinking options before and after the game, including Alice Cooper's Cooperstown restaurant and bar.

  17. * Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (1998)
    For a symmetrical, cookie-cutter stadium, Qualcomm Stadium wasn't bad for baseball (the Chargers still play football there). The park was very clean and easy to navigate. The palm trees beyond the fence were a nice addition, giving the stadium its SoCal feel. Public transportation stops right at the park and baseball tickets were fairly cheap. My trip to The Q was on a Thursday afternoon and there was still a pretty decent crowd. The perfect San Diego weather never hurts either.

  18. * Candlestick Park, San Francisco (1991)
    The the coldest I have ever been in the month of August was the night I spent at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. "The Stick" was a decent ballpark, but nothing to write home about. Giants fans are certainly the best supporters among the five California teams. My trip to Candlestick probably would have been a better experience in the daytime.

  19. Rogers Centre, Toronto (1989)
    Skydome, as it was called when I visited, was quite a spectacle though not really a great place to watch a game. The retractable roof is impressive and you of course have the Hard Rock Cafe, restaurants and hotel rooms overlooking the field (perfect for the Jays to steal signs from the catcher Goldfinger-style). I visited Skydome in its first year so my seats were not great. Getting good seats is clearly not a problem there anymore. Crowd atmosphere, even back in those days when the Jays were winning divisions, was nonexistent.

  20. * Shea Stadium, New York (1993)
    Unlike almost anywhere in the New York area, Shea Stadium offers plenty of parking. There isn't much else to say about Shea, good or bad. My visit to Shea occurred on the 4th of the July. It was a perfect summer day and I have fond memories of my friend Kevin stuffing the All Star ballot box with votes for Mo Vaughn. The best thing I can say about the Mets is that they aren't the Yankees.

  21. * Memorial Stadium, Baltimore (1987)
    The old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore wasn't much to look at but was a decent place to watch a ballgame. While watching batting practice, a coach for the Milwaukee Brewers made my then eight-year-old sister's day when he threw her a batting practice baseball. To her, that ball must have meant as much as McGwire's 62nd. Plus, how could you not love to watch a team wearing those goofy tri-colored cartoon bird caps with the halloweenish orange unis?

  22. * Dolphins Stadium, Miami (2005)
    I was pleasantly surprised with Dolphins Stadium (now football-only Sun Life Stadium). They did a decent job turning a football stadium into a reasonably pleasant place to watch a baseball game, provided that you were not in the upper deck (which wasn't open when I visited). On the down side, the fan excitement is at a bare minimum which is unfortunate because the Marlins have won two championships since 1997. There is nothing around the stadium other than a big parking lot. I'm sure the tailgating before Dolphins games is a lot of fun.

  23. O.Co Coliseum, Oakland (2001)
    The best part of O.Co Coliseum in Oakland is that it is located right off of the highway. This is important because you would never, ever, ever want to get lost in Oakland. Other than the excellent team on the field, the Athletics ballpark has little to offer. There aren't many good bleacher seats and even the "good" seats aren't so good because of the ludicrous amount of foul territory at first and third base. It doesn't seem to matter where you sit in the park, you are never close to the action. It's also very sad that such a great organization has so few fans that care. It's all about the Raiders in Oakland.

  24. * Old Comiskey Park, Chicago (1989)
    I visited the old Comiskey Park (or as Dwight Evans would say "Cominskey Park") in 1989 just a few years before the new park was built. I wanted to see the old place before it was gone. Looking back, I wouldn't have missed much. Comiskey Park was, for lack of a better word, a dump. It had no character or unique features, except for the picnic benches that allowed for a view of the field through the outfield fence. The neighborhood around the park is one of the worst in the majors.

  25. * Municipal Stadium, Cleveland (1989)
    The "Mistake by the Lake" as it was often called, was easily the biggest ballpark that I have ever visited. I think you could fit two Fenways inside of it. The place held about 80,000 but the attendance was usually more like 8,000 (on a good day). I spent most of my visit there moving from seat to seat, testing out different views of the field. There were empty seats behind home plate, as well as one row up from the dugout and in the first row of the bleachers so I had a great time watching the then hopeless Tribe from primo seats.

  26. * Olympic Stadium, Montreal (1986)
    Olympic Stadium in Montreal was the true definition of a monstrosity. I'm sure it was great for the 1976 Olympics, but for baseball it was a disgrace. On the positive side, tickets were cheap and easy to come by. My second Expos game was a little better attended, in large part because of a pre-game homerun hitting contest which included a Montreal Candien or two. The Montreal fans are so lame that they make Dodger fans seem excitable. If there is one city that deserved to lose their team, it was Montreal.

  27. * Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia (1987)
    My first trip to the Vet in 1980 was a memorable one as my favorite third baseman, Mike Schmidt, hit a towering homerun to left field not more than 20 feet from where I sat. Unfortunately, my visit to Philly was marred by the fact that our car was broken into. Ironically enough, the same thing happened on my second visit to Philadelphia years later (the robbery, not the Schmidt homer). I'm guessing that it would be pretty hard to visit that section of Philly and not be ripped off. Among the ten parks that I have been to that are no longer used for Major League Baseball, Veterans Stadium was the worst. I saw the great Mike Schmidt cry when he retired. Had I spent my career playing in that ballpark, I would have cried too.

  28. Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg (2013)
    I first visited the Trop in April of 2005, some seven years after the place opened, yet it seemed as if they were playing the first game in franchise history. The traffic getting into the stadium (sorry, I have a hard time calling a conventional dome stadium a "park") was not to be believed. I could me mistaken, but it appeared that there were only two ways to get into the stadium parking lot. On this particular night, the Red Sox were in town and they apparently were not prepared for more than the usual 10,000 fans. I finally reached my seat in the fourth inning (many people were still arriving in the sixth). What can I say? The turf field was in terrible shape. The lines at the concession stands created gridlock in the upper deck between innings. Downtown St. Petersburg is fun but really isn't within reasonable walking distance of the park. Like the A's, the Rays are an exceptionally-run franchise that deserves a better home.

  29. * Park either torn down or no longer used for baseball

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