An Objective Ranking of America's Baseball Stadiums: Three-Fourths Edition (Updated)
A few years back, my cousin and her husband set out on a venture to travel to all 30 baseball stadiums. A lover of baseball myself, I had already racked up a few ballparks on my own; however, two are better than one. Once my baseball loving husband decided to jump on board, we were up for the challenge. This past July, we reached the three-fourths mark.
I have decided to rank each stadium so far (an updated list will occur when I have finished) based on three simple criteria, also known as the 3 A's:
- The Atmosphere - this includes the fans and their enthusiasm. The more diehard and crazy they are, the further up on the list the stadium will fall.
- The Amenities - this includes what is around the outside of the stadium and what special features the inside of the stadium has to offer.
- The Ancestry - Even though I am a lover of baseball, I, in no means, claim that I have knowledge of all things baseball. While I can't rattle off the starting lineup of the 1936 Yankee roster, I do appreciate a stadium that is rich in history.
So without further ado, here is my list.
22.) Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg, Florida) - Do you love large, obtrusive structures oddly reminiscent of orange juice squeezers standing out in the middle of a city? If so, this stadium is for you. The inside of this stadium robs you of the lovely Florida springtime weather and provides you with ample views of.....tarped off sections of the stadium. The fluorescent lighting makes you feel as if you are staring into a hotel bathroom mirror. Everyone's dream. However, have no fear, there are plenty of amenities! And by plenty of amenities I mean if you like battling small children to touch living stingrays who look just as depressed as the fans are. A team who has only been around for a mere 20 years and boasts no world series wins, a move to Montreal might be best for this team in the future. The only reason I even remotely enjoyed this ballpark was because I was with good company.
21.) Oakland Alameda Coliseum (Oakland, California)-This stadium lies adjacent to the BART and a vast wasteland of nothingness (except where the Warriors play). Considering the surrounding Bay area is so nice, I would have thought this stadium would have more pizazz. But, alas, it falls subject to one of the more crappier ballparks in MLB. Mt. Davis blocks any good chance the stadium remotely has of a good view, and it is mostly tarped off. There is no wow factor nor any amenities worth mentioning. However, the atmosphere was good. I will give them that. Other than that, I think this stadium is permanently stuck at second to last.
20.) Globe Life Park in Arlington (Arlington, Texas) - It's hard not to let the weather affect my decision on this one, but then again it was 39-41 degrees at the start of the game in Texas in April when the day before was 80s and sunny. Therefore, the crowd was kind of lackluster and many food stands were closed.
Globe Life has a retro ballpark feel to it, which makes it kind of cool in a nostalgic way; however, I hear there are plans to build a new one in about three years (Maybe the weather can have a chance to redeem itself during our visit to the DFW and Chip and Joanna Land). There isn't too much around the ballpark except Six Flags and Jerry World aka AT&T Stadium. I, personally, always enjoy a ballpark more when the outside area boasts restaurants and bars.
As for inside the stadium itself, I was impressed that they had gluten free beer at a vegan stand. So that's a plus! The jumbo-tron had fun games and quips, and the between innings entertainment was slightly strange (Why were there dots racing? Why did the little girl have to run so far to steal a base? And why when they scored a run did people with Texas flags have to race across an out of place green space in the outfield?), but worthwhile fun nonetheless. However, I do have to rank this a little low for lack of atmosphere and amenities.
* Turner Field (Atlanta, GA) - Since the Braves have peaced out and taken their services outside of Hotlanta to SunTrust Park, this stadium doesn't officially count in the rankings, but this is where it would fall otherwise. Turner Field really had nothing going for it except one RibHouse restaurant outside of the park and a fun, but maybe offensive chop that fans did whenever the Braves did something noteworthy. The team was good in the 90s, but it isn't the 90s anymore, so perhaps a new stadium is very much welcomed.
19. Chase Field (Phoenix Arizona) - Maybe if we hadn't visited this stadium in the dead of July with temperatures pushing 110, this ballpark would be higher on the list. We found ourselves pre-gaming under the coveted misting spray stations. The atmosphere before the game was lively and a number of bars and restaurants lie adjacent to the stadium, so that gave the field some bonus points despite the heat. Even though I am not a huge fan of indoor baseball, I was thankful for the reprieve of the retractable roof. During the game, we found ourselves seated next to other baseball fans who were traveling to all the ballparks as well, so we had a good time breaking down each stadium with them. As for the amenities, there is a pool in right-centerfield if you want to dish out a pretty penny. Lastly, there isn't too much to show for the ancestry (The team was founded in 1998) except a World Series championship in 2001. I was glad to "chase" this stadium away.
18.) Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, PA) - Maybe it is because the Phillies are NL East rivals to my team, the Mets, or because there were pending thunderstorms that caused us to arrive late to the game and consequently leave early, but I was simply not impressed with this stadium. Located in a multicomplex section outside of the city, there isn't much besides the Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles stadiums along with their obnoxious fans (don't worry I have a lot of friends from Philly) milling about and yelling whatever things they yell. Overall, this stadium is an "ehh."
17.) Nationals Park (Washington D.C.) - Another NL East rival of the Mets, the Nationals' stadium was still just meh to me. Sure the pre-game atmosphere of the BullPen is tantalizing with its cornhole boards, live music, and food trucks and the in-between innings fun is captivating with their gigantic George Washingtons and Teddy Roosevelts running the bases. And Nationals Park is one of those new age stadiums where everything is bigger, louder, and bolder, so amenities are abounding. But, still, overall something was missing. The ancestry. The Nationals have only been around since 2005 and even if in the last few years they have been on the brink of greatness, there are no banners and statues of the years and players that once were. No 70 year old fans recounting the good ol' days when they would take the train into the city and watch the likes of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, or Babe Ruth. There is just something about the allure of a stadium that can boast such history. However, all in due time, Nationals Park. In a decade or two, fans will be recalling the days of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
16.) Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati, Ohio) - To me this stadium was the slightly less attractive little sister of PNC Park (more on that later). It is as if it was trying to copy its older sister, but only got the hand-me-downs. The views of the Ohio River are mostly obscured throughout the ballpark, but if you take a walk on the terrace, you are greeted with a pretty nice backdrop and views of the mighty river. The outside area has a lot of nice bar and restaurants which make for a great spot to go before or after the game, but we didn't get to enjoy those amenities because I mixed up the time of the game, and we didn't end up arriving until the 5th. I would definitely have loved spending more time exploring the history and amenities of the stadium, so I expect to be back to the stadium and maybe it will have a slightly higher ranking.
15.) Minute Maid Park (Houston, Texas)- My experience here can be summed up by two words: Torchy's Tacos. Yes, that's right. We spent over 1/3 of the game waiting in line for what I assumed were going to be the BEST tacos in the world. With each step closer, my mouth watered in anticipation and my eyes bulged in delight until alas, we made it to the front where I found out that they only had 4 pre-made tacos on their menu, and the cashier spent 10 minutes determining whether I did or did not want hot sauce with my tacos. I didn't.
The next 2/3s of the game consisted of eating the mediocre tacos, listening to the announcer sensually announce the opposing teams players when they came up to bat, staring at a guy with a gnome hat, wondering about the actual height of Jose Altuve, reluctantly doing the wave, looking up pictures of Chris Devenski on a dragon, and willing for the Astros to get a home run, so the train could move. Yes, there is a Texas Beef train with oranges at the stadium??
The atmosphere was good since they just won a World Series, but other than that, nothing stood out too much except the amount of time I spent waiting for Torchy's Tacos.
14.) Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Anaheim, California) - Considering the fact that the moment I arrived at this stadium I puked all over Mike Trout's hallowed grounds (Oh the joys of pregnancy), this stadium was doomed from the start. Most of the game consisted of my devouring nacho cheese and watching the fans get oddly very into hitting a beach ball around the stands. There is a lovely mountainesque waterfall in center field that isn't anything at all like the surrounding area. Pujols and Trout hit a lot of home runs. But other than that, Ted Berg described this stadium best, "Meh." (https://ftw.usatoday.com/2016/08/ranking-best-worst-mlb-stadiums-30-petco-wrigley-pnc)
13.) Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, California) - I had been to this stadium before but never appreciated the classic, retro feel of the stadium until I came again with James. We got dropped off on Vin Scully Drive and walked the rest of the way to the stadium with the rest of the fans, taking in the enormity of Chavez Ravine. You can clearly tell the stadium is aging, but it's old in a cool, modern way. From our seats we had great views of Chavez Ravine and the mountains in the distance. The stadium was packed, the fans wild, and the game riveting as the Dodgers took on the Angels in the Freeway Series. If you appreciate baseball, you will appreciate this stadium.
12.) SunTrust Park (Atlanta) - A huge upgrade from Turner Field in that the stadium has much more to offer inside and outside of the stadium, I was pleasantly pleased with our experience here, especially with it being our son's first ever MLB game. The Braves played the Mets and unfortunately crushed them, but the atmosphere and ancestry are something with which to be rivaled. The Braves are first in the NL at the moment, so the crowd was into the game. The stadium has many pennants to boast. The Chop House and Coors Light Below the Chop are two places to check out inside the stadium, and the Battery is a section to check out outside of the stadium. And that's certainly an upgrade from the lone rib house from ol' Turner.
11.) Yankee Stadium (Bronx, New York) - This one is highly debatable, and I have been slightly stressing ever since I officially ranked it. On the surface, this dynasty's field is a gaudy stadium surrounded by pure shittiness. I mean Derek Jeter Street is lined with a Family Dollar, McDonalds, and trash. On top of that, the 4-train rumbles passed every so often, and you have to shout to be heard. Upon entering the stadium, we were given free Yankee towels. As a Mets fan, it seemed like blasphemy to take it, but it was soft, so I did. A Yankee fan ended up asking me where I got it, and she was disappointed to learn she got in too late to get one. I asked if she wanted mine, and she said, "yes" without even a thank you. And that is when I learned that everything that makes Yankee Stadium shitty also makes it great. I love the people of New York and their tough, resilient, passionate attitudes. I love the rumbling roar of the train as it passed by. I can almost picture what it was like during the Subway Series of 2000. I love the grandiose facade of a team who has won more World Series titles than any other team and who can boast some of the best players in the game. The game proved to be just as good. We had a classic rain delay where the remaining Yankee towels came in handy. Aaron Judge broke Joe DiMaggio's rookie home run record. And the fans were as rowdy as ever. Love them or hate them; the Yankees are baseball.
10.) Coors Field (Denver, CO) - Ok, let's be real. The whole state of Colorado is pretty fantastic, so why should Coors Field be any different. Although the history of the team only dates back to the 90s, a pennant has never been won, and the mountains aren't exactly visible from the stadium, I didn't care because I was still "high" on the fact that I was in Colorado, one of the most beautiful states in the country. The facade of the stadium fits in nicely with downtown Denver, which has a cool vibe about it with its bars and restaurants. James and I had a good time before the game drinking a beer on the roof of the bar. This stadium is a must-see and only is a little low because of its lack of ancestry and die-hard fans.
9.) Busch Stadium (St. Louis) - Cardinals fans are intense much like the scrappy players of the team. Cardinal fans love their city, their team, and themselves. They turn up and get turnt up. A Thursday afternoon proved no differently when we were there. A sea of red flooded the downtown St. Louis area and the drunkards were out in full force. The stadium is nice with views of the skyline and the Arch and so is the added feature of Ballpark Village (We didn't have time to hang out here, but I definitely recommend going). I wondered why the rest of St. Louis was so darn awful until I looked around and realized that all of the city's money was spent on this stadium, and everyone just goes to the game and gets drunk during the week instead of working. With the success of the Cardinals in the past 10 years, it was exciting to be around a crowd passionate about their team and baseball. You got to respect a team and its stadium that falls at number two on Major League Baseball's Worst Fans
8.) Progressive Field (Cleveland, OH) - I am jumping on the Unpopular Opinion Bandwagon and saying this, "Cleveland is cool! It rocks!" I know it's trendy and funny to bash Cleveland, and we can all admit that is quite hilarious to throw in a jab about the Browns every now and then. But when the river isn't on fire and snow isn't pooping from the sky and people aren't being kidnapped, Cleveland is actually quite nice and cute. We ventured over to East 4th Street before the game. This is a really cute section with cobblestone streets and lights strung across the walkways. There were plenty of restaurants, bars, people, and live music to get you in the mood for the game. As for "The Jake", it has that downtown baseball stadium feel with fireworks after the game and even sports a mini green monster in the outfield. Furthermore, I was pretty pumped it was Larry Doby Bobblehead Night although I had no idea who he was seconds before handed the figurine. In all, if you can get passed the rather offensive logo that still exists today in 2017, then you can't help rooting for the Indians and the city of Cleveland. They haven't won a World Series since 1948 and the Browns haven't won since Nineteen Ninety-Never (haha Browns joke). The Cavs spoiled it last year by being good and winning. Dear Cleveland, we only like you when you are losing.
7.) Petco Park (San Diego, CA) - San Diego is so pleasantly perfect (80, sunny, no humidity) that it is hard to even care that most likely 90% of the people who attend the games aren't even Padres fans. There is a little field in the park for kids to actually play baseball. There's good food. There's beer. There's dining. There's water. There's sun. There's a good view. There's love. There's baseball? Oh yes, that's right this is about baseball.
6.) Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore, MD) - This ballpark is just an overall neat stadium, for lack of a better term. It is right downtown near the Inner Harbor and from the outside looks like an old warehouse. Eutaw Street is a street in downtown Baltimore that runs by Camden Yards and then eventually into the stadium as a walkway with tables, restaurants, and bars scattered about. On the ground, there are plaques in the shape of balls for all of those who have hit home runs onto the street. There are statues around the stadium of old players, including one of Cal Ripken Jr., one of my favorite players. In all, these stadium has a very old-timey baseball kind of feel and is actually James' favorite stadium.
5.) Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City, MO) - Although "The K" is located off I-70 and a little outside of downtown, I was pretty impressed with this ballpark. Side note: Take some time to explore Kansas City. It is a huge upgrade after leaving St. Louis and driving across the state of Missouri. In fact, if it wasn't located in MO (sorry Missourians), I would love to live there. I have a friend who lives there, and he showed us all the cool sites. Anyway, back to the stadium. Fresh off a World Series win in 2015 (still hurts us Mets fans), attendance was up, the crowd was pumped, and there really was some royal, majestic feel to the stadium. The waterfalls and the crown on top of the scoreboard really were an added touch to the atmosphere and amenities. I, also, hear the food is good, but I'm not the one to ask on that. James is. Overall, this is a great way to spend an afternoon in the Midwest.
4.) Fenway Park (Boston, MA) - Beers, brownies, brawls! This stadium certainly lived up to my expectations, and it really had nothing to do with a ballgame. James and I did a tour here four years ago, so we were well versed on the history and little quirks of the stadium. Pesky's Pole. The Green Monster. Ted Williams' home run seat. We thought we were passionate and knowledgable about baseball...until we saw the fans of Boston. For starters, the area around Fenway has that early 20th century feel in which fans walk to the stadium after work, just wanting to blow off some steam with a cold one and talk some ball. We joined my cousin and her husband (our inspiration) and made our way over to Bleacher Bar, a bar inside of the stadium where you can watch the game (with a limited view) for free from centerfield!! I ordered some Sam Adams and settled in for a fun evening. Beers √ We ventured into the game around the 2nd and found our seats in the outfield, which I soon came to find out is where the diehards sit. An older gentleman, who was a lifelong fan, had his pencil and pad out scoring the game. Every time a strikeout occurred, he reached into his plastic bag and pulled out convenient store brownies, taunted the crowd, and then whipped it at whatever section cheered the loudest. You could tell he did this often, and the crowd ate it up (pun intended). Brownies √ Finally, picture a slightly older Kenny Powers except he's from Boston - the mullet-like hair, the extremely ostentatious, fake 2017 Super Bowl Patriots ring, the Patriots pennant earrings in both ears, and the berating of his wife by calling her a name for a cat because she wouldn't pick these people up in her limo (They ran a limo shuttle service). Now, picture a younger Boston guy in his 20s. Anyone, they're all the same. Ok so, Younger Guy was yelling at the players. Older Guy didn't like that, so "Shutda eff up." Younger Guy didn't like that, so "Me? Yah wicked annoying, brah. Yah bein a dick to yah wife." This ensued for about 20 more minutes in which Older Guy launched into an explanation of his 30 year marriage, the f-word was dropped quite a few times, and finally Younger Guy said this phrase, "Brah, you keep usin the wohd 'adjacent' like it's the only big wohd you know. It's really pissin' me off." Then, they shook hands and became friends and that's how Fenway ended up as number 3 without even a good baseball game having to take place. Brawls √
3.) PNC Park (Pittsburgh, PA) - Having grown up in West Virginia an hour outside of Pittsburgh, I am certainly biased and a lover of the 'Burgh (except when winter is a jerk and lingers on well into April and when the Steelers/Penguins do even remotely well). But PNC does it right. Killer views of the skyline and river. French fries on sandwiches. Plenty of places to park and tailgate. Numerous bars and restaurants. A pedestrian bridge named after Roberto Clemente. Promotion Nights that are legit. After game concerts. Pierogies racing n'at. It's got amenities, ancestry, and now atmosphere that Pirates have been having winning seasons. Yinz, will love it!
2.) Citi Field (Queens, NY) - All right, all right, I know I am about to lose all credibility on this one, but bear with me. I have three reasons why this stadium is number dos (at this moment), and I am not the only one who thinks it is Top Ten worthy. Citi Field cracks the Top Ten on For the Win's rankings. The views of NYC, the planes from La Gaurdia, the pre-game party, and the food are some nice added touches. So without further ado, here are the reasons why Citi Field is Numero Dos:
1.) It is not Shea Stadium.
2.) There is something about going to the game where the whole stadium is rooting for the same team for which you are passionately rooting too. The atmosphere just tops everything else, and obviously I share in the ups and downs of the team's ancestry with all of the other fans.
3.) Would I be a New York Mets fan if I didn't think we are better than we actually are?
Oh and did I mention that it isn't Shea Stadium?
1.) AT&T Park (San Francisco, California) - There is a new number one in town. You can't get much better than AT&T Park. They know how to do a stadium right in a city where we had absolutely gorgeous weather the whole time we were there.
Atmosphere-Packed house, good game, enthusiastic fans, nice night. A+
Amenities-Levi's Landing with views of McCovey's Cove where we kayaked the next day, outstanding views from anywhere in the stadium, a kid zone, and an ample supply of food choices. A+
Ancestry-The Giants have won in 2010, 2012, and 2014 alone, interesting tidbits of their history scattered throughout the park, Barry Bonds and Willie Mays A+
Well done, AT&T, well done.
So there you have it, folks! The top stadiums: three-fourths edition. Stay tuned for more updates! Up next: SunTrust and baby!