Ranking MLB stadiums (that I’ve been to)

Apparently people like stupid lists. That’s hardly news to me, but last week really drove the point home. My column was the ultimate in stupid lists: my personal rankings of MLB team nicknames. Not only was it about as lightweight an article as I’ve ever written, it was possibly the most linked to article I’ve done in memory. Suffice it to say, I kicked myself for not squeezing in a reference to the fact my new book “Evaluating Baseball’s Managers, 1876-2008” is now available for purchase.

At any rate, if people like stupid lists, that’s perfect for me. My two specialties are making lists and being stupid. This is right up my alley. Besides – it’s the off-season. If it wasn’t for dumb lists what the hell would we have left to talk about?

This week’s dumb list: ranking stadiums I’ve attended. No, it isn’t even a remotely deep or original idea. It’s still a fun, dumb column to scrawl out, though.

A few guidelines:

- Distinctive features are positives, provided that distinctive isn’t a euphemism for stupid.

- The most important feature is always the sightlines you have of the field.

- That said, factors like food, friendliness, and ambience also play roles here.

The second factor is key, because I am a confirmed upper-deck denizen. The majority of talk about baseball stadiums comes from the perspective of people in the good seats. This is key, because the interests of different sections can come into conflict.

For example, a long complaint of many old-time stadiums focused on people unable to follow the flight of fly balls because the upper deck hung over them. Stadiums in the last 20 years solved this by picking up the upper deck and moving them back. Voila! No more obstructed views – from either poles or overhangs. All sections have clearer views of the field, but if you’re in my area , you’re much farther from the action. It sucks.

But that usually gets brushed over in most accounts of stadiums. I suppose my perspective is no better than those of the lower-deck dwellers, but I do think the main interpretation needs an upper-deck corrective.

I’ve attended 15 stadiums, but can only rank 14. I was in Candlestick Park as a kid for about three innings. I hardly remember anything about it, though. Anyhow, here are my rankings, based on my experiences.

1. Wrigley Field (Chicago)

I suppose it’s a cliché to rank this one at the top, especially since I’m a Cubs fan, but this place really does have the best upper-deck seats around because you’re so close to the field. Plus the place looks great with the ivy and the old scoreboard and the rooftops and all that.

I still cherish a game I saw a dozen years ago in Seat 1, Aisle 1, Section 517. It was an absolutely tremendous seat – which was remarkable because it was directly behind a pole. Really. But I just had to lean a tad to the side and had a perfect view of the field, and could look out beyond it and see not only the rooftops, but some boats out on Lake Michigan.

Wrigley doesn’t have as much amenities as other places, but it makes up for it.

2. Safeco Park (Seattle)

This place was a revelation when I saw a game there during the 2006 SABR convention. It was a pretty place with nice sightlines without anything really wrong with it. What I found remarkable was that the place supposedly has a retractable roof. The game I saw was a rain-free day, and looking at the top of the place, I had difficulty figuring out where the roof came from.

That’s an overstatement – it clearly came from one side of the field – but had I not known it was retractable, I never would’ve guessed. The stadium just had an open-air feel, very unlike what I’d previously encountered with Miller Park’s retractable roof.

3. Rogers Centre AKA the Skydome (Toronto)

This is baseball’s most underrated stadium. It’s pre-Camden Yards, which is usually seen as a negative. However, at this point in time so many teams have gone the Camden route, Toronto’s place comes off as a bit special.

More importantly, its most memorable features are positives. First, it’s next to that big Canadian space needle thing-a-ma-jig. Awesome sight.

Second, if you go there, get there early. You can see a bunch of perfect circles of empty blue seats. It looks awesome. There is something very peaceful and inviting about seeing it that way.

4. Camden Yards (Baltimore)

Yeah, I know I’m ranking it too low. This place is an enigma for me. On the one hand, I have strong reasons to believe my experience missed a lot of what made it great. I’ve heard people who’ve been there tell me it’s a great overall atmosphere when you go around the entire facility and all the accoutrements that come with it. However, in my one game there I arrived during the first inning, and decided I’d rather watch the game than walk around. Thus I missed some things that make it special.

I’d be tempted to kick it up above Toronto, except my experience watching the game was not quite what I expected. I remember when the place opened it was hailed as a bold new departure for a stadium. This point was reinforced where I lived in Chicago, where the last pre-Camden place, New Comiskey, was erected.

Thus you can imagine my surprise when I got to my seat and felt like I was back on Chicago’s South Side. The places really didn’t seem very different. In part that’s because both stadiums have changed over the years. Camden no longer had the old style scoreboard when I went, and the Sox have retro-fitted their place to modernize it. Regardless, watching a game in noveau-retro Camden reminded me far more of Comiskey II than actual-retro Wrigley.

Baltimore’s a nice place and if I had more time to experience it I’d probably rank it higher. But it ain’t Safeco.

5. New Comiskey – AKA The Cell (Chicago)

The Camden commentary might’ve made the comparison of it and New Comiskey seem like a disparagement to Baltimore. That wasn’t quite my intent, as the South Side stadium is fairly underrated.

The most common criticism of the upper deck is that the seats are set up rather steeply up there. While there’s truth to that, I don’t think that different from my experiences in Baltimore and Cleveland.

My main upper-deck complaint is that they won’t let you walk around the lower concourse at all. Most places will, and that lowers the experience. The Sox used to let everyone do that, and then came Shirtless Father and Son Night.

That said, the sightlines are good (though far away, as is normally the case). And the place boasts a few special strengths. First, it has the best ballpark food of any place I’ve ever been. Some may disagree, but those people probably don’t like churros, so I don’t see how their opinion about food can be taken seriously.

More randomly, this place does the best job finding National Anthem singers of any place on the planet. Maybe this is just the random luck of the draw, but I’ll routinely hear a sensational version of the song here when I go. I still remember a time about 10 years ago I heard four opera singers do a multi-part harmony with the song and it was so brilliant the crowd began cheering halfway through – and this was before 9/11. It’s a small part of the ballpark experience, but the Sox routinely nail it.

6. County Stadium (Milwaukee)

An analogy: Ever had one of those jobs that makes the Dilbert comic strip a little too funny? For a while I worked in such a corporate-newspeak place. My superiors were always friendly and courteous and I began reflexively checking my back for stab wounds whenever I finished a conversation with one.

There was one obvious exception. One long-time veteran set up with his own little fiefdom was an out-and-out lout. And God bless him for it. He was a damn jerk and wasn’t going to pretend otherwise. His openly grating attitude was frankly refreshing in that place. Whatever his faults, you always knew where you stood with him. I didn’t mind him in the least, provided I dealt with him solely in small portions.

That’s County Stadium. I finally made it up to Milwaukee in its final years of existence. It was a dumpy little hole with seats behind poles and plainly visible corrugated metal that the team could barely even bother keeping up to code. Its unapologetic staleness was a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t putting on any false pretenses or affectations of gleam. It promised you a ball game and as an added bonus it likely wasn’t going to collapse on you during the contest. That was about it. While the extra amenities are nice, isn’t that all you need?

Does this contradict my statement up top that distinctive features are positives provided they’re not stupid? I suppose it does. Hey – who wants to be consistent all the time anyway? Consistency is something you want when building safety features for nuclear power plants. Wasting it on your impressions on baseball parks makes even less sense that squandering a quality stadium on the 2000 Brewers.

Oh – the place also has the greatest tailgating facilities I’ve ever seen. I’m not a tailgater myself, but it’s worth mentioning.

7. Old Comiskey (Chicago)

My dad took me to several games here when I was a kid. However, my memories are surprisingly vague. It seemed like a nice place, but it didn’t really catch my attention. I liked the old green chairs and the exploding scoreboard, but aside from that it just struck me as a standard stadium.

8. Jacobs Field, or whatever it’s called these days (Cleveland)

It isn’t a bad place, but it’s overrated. Like Camden, I heard a lot of good things about it (especially in comparison to New Comiskey), but was shocked at how generic it felt when I got there.

Not only did it remind me of New Comiskey, but it seemed clearly inferior. For example, while Comiskey has a fairly steep upper deck, Jacobs Field’s was even worse. And at least Chicago puts a cupholder for you – Jacobs didn’t.

My main memory was the lack of food selection they had. They had the typical wheel of commerce on the upper deck’s concourse, but every single stand sold the exact same food. They made no attempt to mix it up at all, which is not only embarrassing, but shows a lack of interest in their upper-deck denizen’s experience. I’ve been told they’ve addressed this issue, but it should’ve never been a problem in the first place. At least Wrigley can use its small size as an excuse for its food problems.

9. Angel Stadium (Anaheim)

This one is tough for me to rank because the only game I caught there came when it was under renovation. Half the park was closed down. As a result, it had an overall subdued impact on me. It was an odd circumstance, so I don’t want to rank it too low. Then again, it wasn’t a good impression, so I can’t rank it too high. I’ll put it above the stadiums I was openly disappointed in, but nothing more.

10. Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati)

It doesn’t live up to the name. I attended only one game there, but it seemed a bit generic. Its main distinction was a giant red steamboat wheel in centerfield. It was just trying too hard.

One other oddity: The vendors all engaged in some odd multi-tasking. A lot had two different items for sale, and they were completely random items. I kept expecting to see someone hawking beer and cotton candy.

11. Busch II, which according to B-ref is actually Busch III (St.Louis)

I was only there one time, but there was so much I didn’t like. Immediately upon entering the stadium, I wanted to walk around and get a feel for it. I felt like I was in an obstacle course. I ran into a stairway, a brief jut of concessions, some other obstacle – it was an unusually difficult walk. Modern stadiums normally have an easy Wheel of Commerce behind the seats, but that wasn’t the case in this bit by the outfield gate I entered at. I got frustrated and soon stopped.

It was uncomfortably humid where I sat. At first I thought it might be the luck of the draw. SABR’s seats were in a corner underneath an overhang, and it stormed but good, so I figured the stadium trapped some of the moisture. Then I had an exchange with someone with more experience with the area that informed me otherwise. It went something:

Me: They weren’t great seats, but I think I just had a bum location.

Not-me: How so?

Me: The place I sat trapped all the humidity.

Not-me: You know what they call that place that traps the humidity?

Me: No. What?

Not-me: St. Louis.

Me: (pauses for a beat). Oh.

That wasn’t the main problem, though. It just looked … wrong. While Toronto had nice, inviting waves of blue seats, Busch II featured nothing but off-putting red. I can’t really describe the type of red. It wasn’t quite brick red or light red or anything like that. It’s like they specifically went to the color makers and had them create a new shade of red just for the stadium: Glare Red.

That bugged. I was relieved to see the fans show up and block my view of the seats. Stop and think about that sentence for a minute. I’m a Cubs fan who was tickled to see 40,000 Cardinal fans walk into the room so I wouldn’t have to see the surroundings. That is bad.

12. Miller Park (Milwaukee)

God ate concrete and crapped out Miller Park.

I haven’t been to every retractable dome out there, but I have to believe this is the worst. It’s the anti-Seattle. The place feels so confined when the roof is open that it makes you wonder why they didn’t just go ahead and make it a year-round dome. I’ve been to it a handful of times, and each time my opinion of it lowers further.

They still have the tailgating facilities (it’s on the same property as County Stadium was), but the park itself is dismal.

13. Olympic Stadium (Montreal)

A lot of bad things have been said about this place over the years, and all of them are deserving. Though I think many of the modern retro stadiums are overrated, they are sure as hell a step above the previous generation. Olympic was a sterile, lousy place to watch a game.

14. Metrodome (Minnesota)

It’s a fight to the death between this and Olympic for the worst stadium. This ranks lower because at least Montreal had the metric system on the outfield walls and sounds of French being spoken to make it a little interesting. The place was ugly – especially the roof. And there weren’t any redeeming features to it. The only good thing was that it was indoors, keeping the cold early and hot late season weather out. Unlikely as it sounds, it’s possible their new open-air stadium will be a step in the wrong direction.

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Comments

  1. Larry Smith Jr. said...

    Holman Stadium in Vero Beach was an outstanding facility. 

    I’ve been to PNC Park three times and had similar experiences to Michael each time.  Everyone there is friendly and tickets can be had anywhere in the park at any time.  I also think the game presentation inside the stadium is top notch, from the PA announcer to the things they do with the scoreboard to the types of trivia they ask and how they go about asking it.  Everything about the game day experience there is top notch except for the team that calls the stadium home.  Every time I go there I picture what a fun place it will be when the Pirates finally get it together.

  2. Brian said...

    The big red steamboat wheel in Cincy is not part of the stadium.  It’s part of the National Steamboat Monument, located outside the stadium on the public landing.

    This 30-foot replica of the paddle wheel of the American Queen, the largest overnight passenger steamboat to be built in the last half century, rises above the river and reminds the public of Cincinnati’s heritage. Steel columns release steam and music plays when visitors pass.
    Public Landing, Ohio River Shoreline, Cincinnati, Oh 45202

    Now, if you want to say they were trying to hard with the smokestacks, and/or the Riverboat Deck built on top of the batter’s eye building, then you have a point.  However, incorporating Cincinnati’s river heritage was always part of the design of the park and having purchased group outings on the Riverboat Deck I can say it is a great place to watch the game.

  3. Matt said...

    Camden Yards was a lot more striking in its early years, when it was still unique and revolutionary. 

    Chase Field is a lot like Miller Park, with the huge scoreboard in dead center and the “windows” behind it.

    One good thing about the Vet was that “upper deck denizens” could always find some empty seats at field level with little hassle.  The only parks I’ve ever really hated were Shea and Hi Corbett Field in Tucson.

  4. Steven Katz said...

    I have lost count of the number of stadiums I’ve been to, and I haven’t been to many in the midwest, but I have to say my top five that I’ve been to are:

    1) Citizen’s Bank BP – Loved the different foods (how can you pass up cheesteak from the best cheesesteak houses in philly!!)

    2) Old Yankee Stadium – Yes I’m a Yankees fan, but the old stadium felt like you were in “the history of baseball” and you can actually FEEL the ghosts of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, etc.  Yeah, by the end it was dirty, and lacking the modern ammenities.

    3)  New Yankee Stadium – Has all the ammenities of the modern ballparks and SOME of the history of the old YS (great museum), but it just didn’t FEEL like the old stadium

    4)  Fenway Park – Much like the old YS, you can feel the history palpalbully in this stadium.  While I was in enemy territory (I didn’t see them play the Yanks though), the fans there are passionate, and that plays into something.  Definitely FEELS like the old school ballparks my parents visited.

    5)  Safeco Field – Pretty much what the author said above.  Nice ballpark, great sitelines to see a game.

    Bottom Five:

    1)  The Vet in Philly – Dirty, concrete jungle, no soul, lousy food.  Need I say more

    2)  RFK Stadium in Wash – pretty much the same as Philly, but they new this was going to be replaced.

    3)  Olympic Stadium – I really felt that if they had cleaned the place up, it would have been a middle of the pack stadium.  The seats look like they hadn’t been cleaned in years, and the place just felt decrepid.  Loved that they had poutine to eat, and, the feeling that I was watching baseball in a different land.  But they knew they were leaving soon.

    4) Shea Stadium – A little bit more soul than Philly, but really, this was a generic cookie cutter stadium from the 60s.  I never SAW a game in SF, but this had to be the coldest stadium I’ve ever seen games, and I’ve been to quite a few.  Sit in the last few rows in the upper deck (where the old $2.00 general admission seats were) and you would leave with a stiff neck from the winds blowing.

    5)  Chase Field – It felt like I was watching a game at a shopping mall.  Too much going on around the field so you lose track of the game.  And the food areas felt like the foodcourt at the mall…Subway, McDs, and so forth, no local foods.

    I’ve also been to:
    Minute Maid Field – Houston
    Metropolitan Stadium – Minn.
    Nationals Park – Wash
    Camden Yards – Balt
    Angles Stadium – Anaheim
    ATT Field – SF (for a tour – going to a game in Apr)

  5. Steve said...

    I have only been to a hand full of stadiums, but here are my impressions:

    Dodger Stadium – I love it.  The place still looks great and they haven’t gone too commercial.  It does lack the fancy seats and shopping of some the newer parks, but it has a more traditional feel which I appreciate.  I have never had a bad seat.  You can’t beat watching a game while enjoying a Dodger Dog with Vinny on the radio.

    Anaheim Stadium – Boring and bland.  Of course it has been renovated a couple of times since I saw a game there.  It was horrible when it was set up for football.

    Chase Field/BOB – Way too many signs and too much advertising.  To me, all of the clutter distracts from the game.  The roof is cool though.  It is a nice place to go in Phoenix if your AC is broken.

    Candlestick – Cold and chilly and not very distinctive.  It is probably my least favorite.

    RFK – I sat behind a post so I didn’t really enjoy myself.  The train access was cool, Especially since it was in a horrible neighborhood.

  6. Jonathan said...

    Skydome at #3? Ugh. I live in TO. This stadium is terrible. The PA system sucks. The turf sucks (back to the original astroturf because fieldturf is too hard to rip up for concerts and monster truck rallys.) The cheap seats definitely suck, (and by cheap anything less than $40.) The food is generic, vomit inducing and overpriced. The only good thing about the stadium is that they serve Keiths…but even that is overpriced :/

  7. Josh Fisher said...

    Had to pop in here and stump for Dodger Stadium. Sunsets at the Ravine are off-the-charts gorgeous, and the team wearing the whitest uniforms in baseball usually does them justice.

  8. Chris J. said...

    Larry,

    Miller & County have the same tailgating features.  Both places are on the same property. The whole parking area is the exact same as it was before.

    Brian,

    Thanks for the correction on Cincy’s wheel.

  9. Gilbert said...

    I think I liked the well-written and thoughtful reader comments as much as the article.  Nice to walk in and not see arguments and negativity masquerading as humor.
    Mine would probably be AT&T and Safeco, and I had been to their predecessors.  The pre Mt. Davis Oakland bleachers were a good place for cheap game watching also.
    My visit to Camden was a lower deck seat down the LF line; the distance was good but the seat itself pointed toward the center of the stadium in shallow center rather than the infield.  I would probably come up with a different list than a lot of you since my cheapness usually extends to not sampling the ballpark cuisine, as ol’ Satch used to say about his secret to longlevity, “Avoid fried foods which angry up the blood”.  And I don’t think I have ever gone to the can during a game so I don’t know about the lines or how well the staff maintains it once the crowds have come in.

  10. Lou D. said...

    Silly article. Seem’s like some posters should have written this article as they’ve been to more stadiums. If you haven’t been to Petco, Nationals Park and PNC there really is no reason this should have been written.

  11. King Kaufman said...

    “I’ve attended 15 stadiums, but can only rank 14. I was in Candlestick Park as a kid for about three innings. I hardly remember anything about it, though.”

    However long your list is, add about six spots after the lowest ranking. There’s your spot for Candlestick.

  12. Jim G. said...

    I agree with Lou. You must be bored, Chris. All this article showed me was that you were raised in Chicago, with all of the stereotypical biases. Wrigley Field #1??!!! Wooof! I’ve never had a good experience there. The place is cramped, has a distinct urine smell and too many people that are more into partying than into baseball.

    On the other hand, you’ve once again spurred some lively conversation.

    I also disagree about the Milwaukee parks. County Stadium was a dump. Better than the “cookie cutters” that arrive later, but rather bland and boring. And I think Miller Park is one of the nicest of the new ballparks. Nothing too fancy, but an interesting look -  classic mortar down low and neo-Gothic up high. (And for the record – tailgating does nothing for me.)

    No one has mentioned Comerica Park, which I thought is beautiful in its simple elegance. Great sight lines, comfortable seating. They did a good job at keeping the “mall” aspect away from the field (but it’s definitely there). You also can feel that you’re far away from the action, but I enjoyed by games there.

    Of the old ballparks, Tiger Stadium was my favorite. There were so many fun quirks in that place; the right field overhang, the flag pole in-play, etc.

    My least favorite was Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. It felt like a Pop Warner football stadium that they tried cramming major league baseball into.

    I didn’t like my games at new Comiskey (I refuse to call it anything else), but that was before the renovation. My experience was that it was a “study in concrete.” Either Reinsdorf had just invested in a cement company or the Chicago mob had an excess of bodies laying around when it was built. It might have the lack of decor that made me feel that way, and maybe it’s changed.

    Other ballparks I’ve enjoyed:
    Minute Maid Park
    The Skydome
    Kaufman Stadium
    The Ballpark at Arlington (new)

    Other ballparks I didn’t enjoy;
    Veterans Stadium
    Riverfront Stadium
    Shea Stadium (old)
    Metrodome

  13. Patrick Lagreid said...

    First, it’s Safeco Field, not Safeco Park. Being from Seattle, that error stands out like a sore thumb. Please fix it.

    Second, get yourself to PNC Park and AT&T Park, and you’ll likely have to reorganize your list for previously stated reasons.

  14. Terry Elliott said...

    Lou is right. I’d add Kaufman Stadium to the list of stadiums to see before you crank out tripe like this.

    And slamming “the new field” in Minnesota (it’s called Target Field) before you get to see it makes no sense either. Every report is that it’s what Wrigley Field could be if you’d ever update that dump. Three fourths of the 40,000 seats are lower deck, 15’ from closest seat to home plate, and 2nd smallest foul territory in MLB. You’re right there man.

    And if it would have been open in 2009, we would have had 2 rain outs, 1 fewer than the average in Met Stadium.

    Terry

  15. Pat Rieck said...

    Been to 27 of the mlb parks PNC park is my favorite Metrodome was the worst, A lot of the ballpark experience is enhanced by the game, something special happens, great rivals, New Yankee Stadium was great byt it was Yankees against Red Sox Ali was pre same guest. AT@T Park was nice but cold in July, I am a Cardinal used to seeing games in the heat except for post season.

  16. Linus said...

    Skydome is nice, but you just can’t rank a AstroTurf stadium that high. Baseball wasn’t meant to be played on a carpet.

    Also, when the roof’s closed, it’s too much like being in a gym.

  17. Jacob Rothberg said...

    The pre-Camden Spaceship ugliness of the Skydome is a gentle reminder of a simpler time. I personally am a big fan f the lattice of girders overhead when the roof is closed. Still, it is hard to get over the idea of the place as a poured-concrete monstrosity.

  18. Brett said...

    Have to agree with you about Miller Park, which is hard for me to take as a Brewers fan who tries to go to a few games a year. It’s so cold and sterile, it feels like checking in at an airport. THIS is what Selig hornswoggled the state for? The food, however, is tremendous. Excellent sausages grilled to perfection, replete with veggie dogs for the vegetarian wife. You should have given the place credit for that.

  19. Bob Irving said...

    As a devout Blue Jays fan, I would put SkyDome, or Rogers Centre, near the bottom. Astroturf, sterile, poor food, and a listless, lifeless crowd who need to be told when to cheer. By contrast, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal, while a concrete monstrosity, had more fan noise with 5,000 fans than Skydome with 30,000.

    I live near Philly now and have heard lots of good things about Citizens Bank Park. The Vet was horrible for baseball, as others noted.

    Perhaps a ranking system would have helped: points for comfort, food, “vibe”, sightlines, whatever…

  20. Larry Smith Jr. said...

    I’ve been to 24 MLB stadiums, 20 of which are currently in use.  Of the ones I’ve been to, only 7 overlap yours….you seem to have gone to many ones that I haven’t.  Wrigley is #2 on my list, so no complaints there (behind PNC Park, a stadium so great that it doesn’t deserve the Pirates).

    I always thought generally that Camden Yards was overrated.  Other than Old Yankee Stadium, I can’t think of a bigger disappointment.  I went in expecting this grand majesty of a park as numerous articles have pounded home to me was the case, but to me Camden was just “Okay”.  It wasn’t a BAD place…..it was just “Okay”.

    My original U.S. Cellular Park experience in 2005 was marred by getting a taste of the Sox fan as stereotype.  I think anytime you go to one of your team’s games in the away park and wear your team’s gear you have to have a thicker skin and be prepared to take some ribbing, but I found myself being legitimately scared by about the 7th inning.  The only cool thing about it was that I got to meet Curtis Granderson’s Mom on the way out of the stadium, because she saw me and my brother wearing Tiger jerseys and stopped us to speak.  I spent four years disparaging both the park and the fanbase before my girlfriend at the time finally convinced me to go back last year.  I went to the last Sox home game of the year in September against the Tigers, and had a much better experience and found the people to be friendly.  I’ve now softened my opinion and think more highly of the park than I did before.  I haven’t done a full list of my own, but just going through places I’ve been in my head without thinking too hard, I’d probably put it in the 6-12 range for myself.

    I’ve never been to County Stadium, but when I went to Miller Park I always thought that IT had the best tailgating facilities I’d ever seen.  It looked like what they have in Michigan’s Metroparks.  It seemed like miles and miles of grills set up just for you to tailgate with.  I also do not tailgate, but Miller Park almost invites you to try it.

    I enjoy Jacobs/Progressive Field and have been there more than any other stadium besides Tiger Stadium/Comerica Park, but I imagine my enjoyment comes as much from the fact that virtually every game I’ve been to there has been crazy and insane (not the fans, but what actually happened during the game) as any personal affinity toward the stadium.  Still, I try to go once a year and I think it’s pretty nice.  It’d be in my top 6.

    I agree totally with your opinion of Great American Ballpark.  I’ve been there twice and will likely go again this Summer, but overall there’s nothing really special about it.

    I think I liked Busch Stadium III more than you did, but I think it was a step down from its predecessor.  I liked Busch Stadium II better.  I’ve only been to BSIII once, and that was Game 4 of the ‘06 World Series, so I was just happy to be there at all.  It was a night game so I don’t know much about the “glare” red, but I didn’t think it was all that bad and I was sitting way, way, WAAAAAAAAAAAAY up.  However, I really enjoyed Busch Stadium II when I went and didn’t get as much out of the new one.

    I didn’t hate Miller Park as you did but I would agree that even when the roof is open it feels very much like an indoor/domed stadium.

    Like I said, I haven’t thought about it too hard but if I had to give a personal top 5 it would be some sort of mish/mash of:

    PNC Park, Wrigley Field, New Yankee Stadium, Comerica Park (open bias), and Fenway Park

    And if I had to give a personal bottom 5 it would be some sort of mish/mash of:

    Coors Field, Old Yankee Stadium, Citizen’s Bank Park (fans were ridiculous here too…probably colors my opinion), Turner Field, and Skydome (I didn’t like it nearly as much as you did).

  21. Brian Willett said...

    I’ve only been to one ballpark…It was and is sureal…I need no other….Fenway Park the home of the Boston Red Sox.

  22. Todd said...

    Wrigley Field has bar none the worst bathrooms ever. That factor alone should rule it out from taking the top spot in the rankings.

  23. Bob Rittner said...

    I have been to 18 major league ball parks and only actively disliked one. That was Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia which had no charm and where I sat in the upper deck, no amenities. I don’t think one vendor came around all game, and from that spot it seemed the meeting of the warning track and outfield wall was an optical illusion. I could not tell where one ended and one began.

    As for the others, I liked the White Sox field better after the renovations, loved Wrigley despite some obstruction to my view and enjoyed Fenway both for the ball park and the surroundings, although it really is a dirty and uncomfortable place to watch a game. As a New Yorker, Yankee stadium both with pillars and without was always magnificent while I could not appreciate the Polo Grounds as I was there when the Mets reopened it and it seemed decrepit.

    I was less impressed with the Skydome than you are. Perhaps I was just expecting too much as it was the first retractable dome I was in. But I really liked the look of the Ball Park at Arlington and enjoyed both Memorial Park and Camden Yards in Baltimore a lot. Of course, since Camden Yards was a father’s day present, that might have colored my judgment, but that brick building looming in the outfield is great.

    I am among those who like Tropicana Field while still hoping the Rays get a new ball park. The new ownership has made it inviting, but I believe they are right that it is no longer serviceable. Of course, I enjoyed watching a game in Montreal also, so perhaps my standards are not very high. And I also liked The Great American Ballpark, especially the views of the river.

    In any case, I think most ball parks have something to recommend them (except Veterans that is thankfully gone). And there is always minor league ball. I have never been to a minor league park I did not love, whether it is the new, architecturally interesting ones like Progress Energy in Clearwater or the one in Montgomery or Bowling Green or the old rickety looking ones like the one in Dunedin or Pittsfield. I hate to see some of them go, as has happened to Al Lang, a stunningly beautiful park, or Vero Beach, another great place to watch baseball.

  24. Robert said...

    You have Wrigley Field as number one and new Comiskey up there to. I addmit, I love Wrigley but not because it has the best upper deck. Which it doesn’t!!! If the place wasn’t ancient and history laden it would be deemed a dump. New Comiskey is worse. I saw the 13th game ever played there. I sat behind the plate about 15 rows. That was nice. But all I here from Chicago fans is how Comiskey isn’t very nice. The upper deck is a death trap. If you slip and fall you are going straight down to the lower level. County Stadium I agree with. It didn’t b.s. you. You came to see baseball and that is what you get, not much more, literally. But they did have a W.S. there and some of the greats of all time. Even better than any of the Cubs or Sox for that matter. Miller Park is consistently rated as one of the top parks in baseball, so your assessment is bogus. All big parks especially with roofs are mostly concrete. Of course I am a Brewer fan so I am biased, but obviously you are more biased than I. WRIGLEY FIELD!!!!

  25. Michael Caragliano said...

    Good list, Chris. I’ve been to twenty parks myself- thanks to SABR, about half of our lists overlap- and I’m assuming you haven’t been to PNC. Otherwise, I think you’d be in agreement with Larry. PNC is a jewel; better than Wrigley. It’s the only stadium I’ve been able to go to and buy walk-up tickets behind the plate for day-of-game. Then again, I was wearing a Fordham T-shirt, and that led to a ten-minute converstion about Fordham and New York in general. The availability of the ticket location and the length of the conversation should tell you everything you need to know about the Pirates lately. Anyway, it was worth it- beautiful park and surrounding landmarks, great sight lines, great view of downtown and the bridges, friendly staff. Find any reason you can- invent one, if you must- to get to Pittsburgh just so you can say, hey, lets catch the game tonight.

    BTW, I have a friend who honeymooned in Montreal in 2002. His wife agreed to see an Expos/Brewers game- now THAT’S true love. He said the best thing Olympic Stadium had going for it, after Youppi, was the metro station inside the ballpark- step off, turn around, and there’s the stadium. Take from that what you will.

  26. JoeT said...

    I want to go back to Nats Park in 10 years, after there’s something built up around the park.  We went for the inaugrial season, and it just felt like it was a ballpark in the middle of a massive construction zone.  One quick lap around the park and straight inside.

  27. BillVZ said...

    Golly, Major League baseball is played on the West Coast and in some fine venues but reading the comments one might never know that. The two jewels on the West Coast are in San Francisco and Seattle. I have not been to Safeco personally, but from what I see on the tube and knowing Seattle I am pretty sure it is a winner for both fans and players. San Diego has a fine new Park and fan friendly. Those who don’t go inside to watch the game can sit outside the Park in a grassy area and watch on a giant screen. Oakland at one time was a fine place for baseball viewing especially in the center field bleachers. Al Davis managed to completely destroy it all to make it a monument to him. For old time Wrigley Field –Fenway Park baseball style atmosphere it is still alive and well in Dodger Stadium. Dodger/Giant rivalry in two packed great stadiums sends the heart pounding…

    PS: County Stadium had the best food by far- real baseball cuisine -bratwurst,popcorn, peanuts and beer served fresh and in its natural state -no plastic!

  28. TKelly said...

    Ugh.  Its like Brooklyn hipsters talking about baseball stadiums…“Camden Yards is SOOOOO 1992, its all about pre-Camden these days”.  Toronto?!  Over Camden?!

  29. Jeff said...

    Fun topic! Although I’d seen games in 2 or 3 ballparks as a kid, I didn’t start “collecting ballparks” for real until 1996. Since then, I’ve been to 39 of them! Just the current ones in most cities, but I have seen two in San Diego, San Francisco, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and I saw the Nats in RFK and as the Expos in Montreal before that. I now still have to get to the two new N.Y. parks, the new one in D.C. and now Target Field to see the Twins—all of which I plan to do next Sept. 25-30. So, I guess I have a bit larger perspective relative to most who’ve posted here so far.

    I’d agree where you sit can make a difference, but I always try to spend an inning or two in various spots around a park to get a feel. Weighing the total experience, my Top 5 favorites have been (using their names from when I was there): 1. The Ballpark at Arlington, 2. PNC Park, 3. Comerica Park, 4. Minute Maid Park and 5. Pac Bell Park (which would be even higher if it weren’t for a very cramped feeling as it was built on a very small site). All had very unique feelings to them, great amenities and great locations and access. I’d stongly recommend any of these to true ballpark connoisseurs.

    My bottom 5: 35. Shea Stadium (even though my one visit was a playoff game in 1999), 36. Pro Player Stadium (this was the only one I never actually saw a game at- it was rained out the night I was there, no surprise), 37. RFK Stadium (kind of wanted to see the Redskins there instead), 38. County Stadium (the most indiscernably generic park I ever saw), and the worst was… 39. Veteran’s Stadium (so empty that most of the concession stands were closed and I saw actual, live rats in the place!)

    Favorite old-time ballpark? Hands-down, Tiger Stadium (sorry Red Sox fans, Fenway was only next best). Wrigley has its charm, but the traffic getting there through those neighborhoods? I’d never go back. And it takes a lot for a southern-Californian to feel that way!

  30. DrBGiantsfan said...

    AT&T is a great park to see.  Very San Francisco.  Lots of character and interesting stuff to see and do.  You still get very cold there at night, even wearing layers.  Parking can be tough and traffic after games is a nightmare.  We get a hotel in town and take a cab.

    Angels Stadium has the easiest access both in and out if you are driving.  The upper deck behind home plate has some of the best seats I’ve sat in.  Great view from up there.  Daytime temps too hot in summer.  Perfect temps at night.

    Dodger Stadium:  Showing it’s age but fairly easy access by car and agree it’s a great view in the evening as the sun goes down.  Frequently too hot in daytime in summer.  Perfect at night.

    Petco:  Kind of nondescript for a new stadium.  Most striking aspect is how huge the field is.  Parking can be very tough.  Perfect weather at night.

    That’s all I’ve been too.  Agree Veterans Stadium in Philly was horrible.

  31. geo said...

    My ballpark experience is woefully lacking, so I’ll limit my comments.

    Prevailing opinion (not just from the commenters, but others as well) that I’ve heard is that the Skydome/Rogers Centre blows, so you are in the definite minority, Chris.

    I haven’t been in PNC, but I would sure like to; it looks great on TV – almost like a picture postcard.

    I kind of like Rosenblatt Stadium.  There’s just something extra fun about minor league parks.

    The Metrodome is HORRIBLE.  Indoor baseball is just wrong.  They all feel like arenas to me.

    New Comiskey is OK, but I thought it felt cramped and too enclosed.  And yeah, those upper decks are an accident waiting to happen.

    Actually, most ballparks feel cramped to me, but probably that’s because most of my in-person baseball experience has come at Kauffman, which was so wide open and green before the renovations.  I haven’t seen the new version yet, but hope to soon.  It’s the last of the ‘70s cookie cutter designs remaining, but it’s stood the test of time because it’s really the only one they got right from the get-go.

  32. JoeT said...

    I’m spoiled, my home park is Fenway.  After that:

    1) PNC
    2) Dodger Stadium
    3) Petco
    4) Camden
    5) The Jake
    6) Chase
    7) Nats Park
    8) Shea
    9) Old Yankee Stadium

    Where I’d like to go next?

    1) Kauffman
    2) AT&T
    3) Wrigley
    4) Safeco
    5) Rickwood

  33. Paul Dennis said...

    Shea was probably my least favorite , followed by the Vet and Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium and Old COmisky.

    Favorites are Fenway, Wrigley and old Tiger Stadium and Turner Stadium

    have also seen games in Anaheim (The Big “A”), Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), Old & New Griffith Stadiums (Washington DC) The Trop (Tampa), Safeco Field, Atlanta-Fulton County and a bunch of others no longer in use

  34. Zack M said...

    I stopped reading when you put the Skydome at #3. The more you go the worst that concrete monster gets. I would take any park outside of Tropicana Field over the Skydome.

  35. Keith said...

    Very odd to see a list based on sightlines ranking Wrigley Field as the best stadium.  If you are on the lower level, you have roughly a 50/50 chance of having a partially obstructed view and a slim chance of a totally obstructed view.

    Todd: The Wrigley bathrooms are being renovated as I type, primarily to make them larger and avoid the congestion.  I don’t know whether they are removing the trough urinals, but if so, that would have to bump Wrigley up a notch or two.

  36. Jonathan said...

    Fenway , Wrigleyand CBP would be nice if they were your home stadiums I guess…as a visitor to these places though it hard to get over the douchebaggery

  37. Dave said...

    I have only seen games in four ballparks since I started attending baseball games in 1981 (Veteran’s Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Old Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards), but I have to say that I hate CBP only because the majority of the fans are idiots. At the Vet the fans there cared about baseball, at CBP there are way too many youngsters going there to drink booze, hang out, curse and cause trouble. Every game I go to at CBP I have to deal idiots pulling this crap at it kills the positive baseball experience. The security at CBP doesn’t do anything about it, even when you mention it to them. I love the Phillies, always have and always will, but the majority of their fans are idiots.

  38. Larry Smith Jr. said...

    I forgot about Nationals Park and Kauffman Stadium!  Like I said, I wasn’t thinking too hard when I threw out top ones.  Both of those places were great.  I want to go back to Kauffman now that they’ve done renovations—- I went there in 2007 right before they got those HD scoreboards put in.

    It was already a great place to watch a game but I’ll bet its even better now.

  39. Lou Schuler said...

    In no particular order:

    1. Good to see the love for Kauffman Stadium in K.C. I’ve been there before and after the renovations, and had great experiences. What’s underrated about K.C. is that you can actually buy seats near the field. No way you can do that at most of the ballparks under discussion here w/o paying a scalper.

    2. Agree with King Kaufman’s comment about Candlestick. Weather-wise, that was my worst experience ever at an MLB game. My friend and I wore winter coats and wrapped ourselves in a blanket, and we were still chilled to the bone.

    3. Of the defunct stadia, my favorite by far was Tiger Stadium. Beautiful place to watch a game.

    4. Hated my two experiences at Chicago ballparks. Wrigley was off-the-charts for douchebaggery, as Jonathan points out, and Comiskey was like 19th century London. It seemed like everyone was smoking, and by the end of the game the tobacco smoke hung in a cloud covering the field and half the stands.

    5. If you get to Dodger Stadium on one of the rare days when the Santa Ana winds blow away the smog from the surrounding mountains, it’s a truly memorable treat for your eyes.

    6. I’m a lifelong Cardinals fan, and I don’t get Busch III. Busch II was a mistake—a football stadium that was never a great place to watch baseball (although it was a terrific place to watch football, back in the Coryell era)—but I don’t see how Busch III is much of an improvement. I was only there once, so I’m willing to give it another shot, but it doesn’t sound like I’m alone with my negative first impression.

    7. For visual atmosphere, it’s hard to get worse than the old Vet in Philly, as several others noted. I’ve been to high school fields with more charm and character.

    8. The most most boring stadiums I visited were Jack Murphy/Qualcomm in S.D. and the Big A in Anaheim, pre-renovation. I can’t remember anything about them, other than feeling bad for the fans who had to watch their team play there on a regular basis.

  40. dan said...

    all you boston tards need to get off your high horse.  fenway has nothing on wrigley.  and remember, there is a letter “r” in car

  41. JC said...

    I’ve only been to six ballparks, but Oakland’s is easily the worst. It’s a concrete monster adjacent to a wasteland of train tracks. There’s a giant upper deck of empty seats (called Mt. Davis) built for the Raiders. The A’s usually don’t sell those seats because you can’t see the outfield from them. There’s a big foul area, so most of the seats are pretty far from the field. And the food is bad. But it’s not all bad. It’s pretty accessible being right next to the freeway and subway. Tickets are cheap and the fans are fun especially the Raiders fans.

  42. Paul Moehringer said...

    Just the one’s I’ve been to.

    1. Fenway Park
    Been there twice.  Was a dump the first time I went back in ‘97 but Sox ownership has poured alot of money into fixing up the park since then, and it shows.  Still some dumpy areas in the park, but by in large it’s a fairly modern facility now.

    2. Camden Yards
    Again visted it in ‘96 when the Orioles were kicking, as was the ballpark.  Don’t know how much has changed since then, but hopefully very little.

    3. Old Yankee Stadium
    Didn’t care much for the physical park itself, (haven’t been to the new one) but it was without quesiton the best baseball atmosphere of any park I’ve ever been to.

    4. Shea Stadium
    I can understand why people wouldn’t like this place, as the physical park itself was awful, but it had a great baseball atmosphere to it.

    5. Skydome
    Cleanest ballpark I’ve ever been to.  Probably about the worst baseball atmosphere I’ve been to though, no offense Blue Jay fans, who I know actually happen to be pretty loyal.  The whole place just seemed dead throughout the game until around the 7th inning.  It was a really good game as well, so the blowout excuse doesen’t fly.

    6. Veterans Stadium
    Nothing good at all to write about this place.  Not one thing was aesthetically pleasing about this place.  Understand it actually had a pretty good football atmosphere to it, but for baseball it just didn’t work.  Haven’t been to Citizens Bank yet, but hope to.

    Been to a bunch of minor league parks as well, and actually tend to enjoy those games much more then I do major league games in person.  I love both, but I find I get about the same amount of enjoyment out of going to a minor league game for a fraction of what it costs now to go to a Major League game.

    And yes it does bother me that the best seats in the house typically go to the so called “fans” who could really care less about the outcome.  For the Red Sox game I went to, I sat in a luxury suite, and just looking at the people sitting in the luxury boxes, I saw way more eyes looking down at their blackberries, then I saw looking down at the field.

  43. JayT said...

    I grew up in Chicago so I’ve been to tons of Wrigley games, as well as old and new Comiskey. I love Wrigley and I go to a game whenever I go home. I’ve never had a bad experiance there. I haven’t been to the Cell since the renovations, but even before that, I thought it was fine. Better then Old Comiskey at any rate. If for no other reason then it was so much cleaner.

    Shea was the worst stadium I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t see fly balls from my seat, and there was nothing interesting about the stadium to take my mind off the bad sight lines.

    Not the worst stadium, but the worst seat I ever had at a ball game was at Fenway. I was under the upper deck, so I could see fly balls or popups, there was a beam obstructing the view of the pitcher, there was no leg room, the seat was facing the outfield wall, and the seat was tiny. By the fourth inning I got tired of it, and spent the rest of the game in the standing room only section. The stadium was fun to walk around in, and the area around the stadium was nice enough. I’ll give it another try the next time I get a chance, but I was underwhelmed.

    The Oakland Coloseum is right up there with Shea, but I live in the Bay Area, and I now know the stadium well enough that I can pick out good seats. The food is horrible.

    AT&T park is my second favorite stadium. Almost all of the seats have good views (except the left field upper deck), the food is the best I’ve had, and it just looks really nice. I go to 20 games a year or so here, and even though the A’s games are a lot cheaper, I’m willing to spend the extra money for the better experiance.

    Dodger Stadium was fine. I don’t really have anything good or bad to say about it. It’s just kind of there.

    Petco was a Nice surprise for me. It just really fits in well with the part of town it is at, and I had great seats. I like that they didn’t try to make it retro, but instead just made it fit in with San Diego.

    Old Yankee Stadium. I feel the same way about this as I did about Dodger Stadium. It was just kind of there.

    I also went to a few games at Candlestick. It was almost as bad as Shea, but not quite. More in like with Oakland’s stadium.

  44. SJ said...

    Having seen baseball in all three Busch Stadiums, I have to say that they just keep getting worse. Well, the middle one was probably physically better than the original one, but Sportsmans Park (its original name) was were I saw all the baseball in my youth and the first park where the woman who is now my wife and I saw a game together. The new one though seems cheaply designed and built. As does the Not-So-Great American Ballpark. Progressive Field (ex-Jacobs Field), however, seemed pretty nice in my one visit. AT&T (nee PacBell) can be a nice place to watch a game, but I have been there when it reminded me far too much of that icebox out on Candlestick Point. Kaufman has always been a nice place to watch a ball game (years ago a real baseball team played there, too) and the recent upgrades have brought it back up to snuff. I used to like going to Olympic Stadium; no not because I liked the concrete hell it was, but because there were so few fans it was easy to slip down to a good seat early in the game. My choice in the end, though, is the home of the Halos in Anaheim. Not tawdry new, not worn out, not gimmicky with a sliding roof, just a nice place to watch a ball game, and they’ve kept it up pretty well, too. And who can’t like the Big A with the halo.

  45. B N said...

    I got to think that Chris and I have very different sensibilities about ballparks.  I have trouble imagining Wrigley ranked above Camden, but for totally different reasons than are stated.

    Wrigley – I liked the concessions!  One of the times I went down, I even got there a bit early to get the half off food promo and wander the stadium.  It’s a little cramped, but it had everything I look for in a ballpark.  I definitely hope Wrigley stays intact as time goes by.

    But with that said… Camden is a great park.  It may not seem quite as great now that there’s been so much imitation of its style, but there are some unique things I could stare at all day.  My favorite is the plaques for home runs hit onto the concourse outside the stadium.  Camden may be my favorite park, which is saying something as Ia am a Red Sox fan (making me somewhat irrational about Fenway, which I love for everything about it except the troughs in the men’s room).

    Additionally, I think a lot of these rankings leave out the neighborhoods around the stadium.  That is a huge factor.  A truly great stadium needs a neighborhood.  Fenway, Wrigley, Camden, and yes… even Yankee Stadium (new, old, and older) all have great sports neighborhoods around them.  Guys selling sausages, sports bars, etc.  I could never rank a place like The Cell within my top 10 when it’s so poorly supported.  I’m living in Philly now, and while I like Citizen’s Bank Park- it has the same issue.  Want a beer after the game? … Try… walking a couple blocks to the Radisson Hotel?  Or… grab a 40 and cruise through the warehouse district?

    A stadium has to be somewhere that feels like baseball and sports, rather than somewhere that makes you feel like you were transported into a giant parking lot or housing development.  Just my opinion.

  46. Shane Victorino said...

    I used to like Wrigley, but then somebody spilled their beer all over me this one time and after that I have been not so hot on it.

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