Last week with my visit to the Metrodome in Minneapolis I got my Major League Ballpark merit badge. I have now been to all 30 ballparks. According to federal law here is my rankings list.
There are some ballpark ratings out there that try to quantify various ballpark factors in order to come up with an objective list. I prefer a more holistic approach. I try to take in the gestalt of the place and judge accordingly, but I do have three often overlapping criteria.
1) Architecture. I like ballparks with open views over the outfield seats and parks that reflect their city.
2) Location, location, location. Urban ballparks that don't sit in the middle of an asphalt parking lots are my preference.
3) Sociology. A ballpark gets extra points if the neighboring restaurants and bars are filled with fans before and after games.
-- Wrigley and Fenway are tough to compare to the newer parks because based on pure creature comforts they are sorely lacking. They get a lot extra credit for being museum pieces.
-- I give Wrigley the nod because of the low outfield bleachers which opens the view, but I like the outside and the surrounding area around Fenway better.
-- The perfect ballpark. It's small (< 40,000 capacity), has an awesome view of downtown Pittsburgh, wide concourses with views of the field, and you can buy Primanti Brothers sandwiches there. Note: I’ve moved it down from number 1 to the 3 spot. 14 years of Pirate ineptitude has sapped some life from the place.
-- They had to squeeze the ballpark into a small area which resulted in some disadvantages like some very narrow concourses, but the relative smallness of the building does focus attention onto the game. And, after all, isn't that the reason we go to the games?
-- I'll be the first to admit that there is some home town bias here, because I'm putting Petco above some great ballparks despite some things I don't like about it (the second deck in right field and the centerfield batter's eye primarily). But the place is unique, the neighborhood is filling in, and the weather is perfect.
6. Camden Yards
-- Camden Yards gets some extra credit for being the first of the new "old" style parks. It has some flaws (a lot of seats that don't face the infield, and enclosed concourses) but its still the standard to which all new parks are compared.
-- One of my fondest baseball related memories is walking from downtown Seattle to Safeco Field on opening day several years ago. There was a palatable buzz as the streets crowded with fans headed to the park. Safeco has a great location, excellent amenities, and I love the fact that they allow (encourage?) food vendors outside the park (kinda like Fenway used to be in the old days)
-- The architecture is certainly derivative of Camden Yards, Coors, etc. but the architects corrected most of their predecessor's mistakes. However, it's the fans that make the difference. Every game is an event. On game days downtown is packed with Cardinal fans hours before the first pitch. Busch has a great location, an open view of downtown and the arch, and the area will only improve when the site of old Busch is developed
9. The Jake
– Upon further review, I’ve moved the Indian’s ballpark up a notch. It’s got everything I like in a park, but the double and triple levels of suites are a bit much.
-- It’s a nice enough ballpark, but I don’t think many people arrive early or linger around the area after the games.
11. Coors Field
– Nice location, but it’s just too damn big
12. Dodger Stadium
– Love the park hate the sea of asphalt
13. Citizen's Bank
– Great ballpark but the location sucks
-- It's a beautiful park located in the suburbs surrounded by an enormous parking lot.
15. Turner Field
-- Location, location, location. See Citizen's bank
16. Yankee Stadium
17. Great American Ballpark
18. Ballpark at Arlington
21. The Bob
22. Juice Box
23. Miller Park
24. Sky Dome
27. Network Associates