Stadium Rankings drawn from Facebook Places

As I’ve surfed ballpark related sites over the years I’ve seen a number of “rate the ballpark” sites, but in almost all cases, the criteria are completely subjective – they are one person’s (or a few people’s) opinion. I was curious on a grander scale, so I ran through Facebook Places and harvested and compiled their rankings from the 30 MLB stadium pages.

They’re rated there by the general public on a 1 to 5 star basis, but as about 70% of the responders use a default five stars, I threw out the 5 star and 1 star ratings, following the assumption that the people ranking 2-4 were actually thinking about the ratings rather than giving the default “my team/park rocks; your team/park sucks” reaction. As an aside, once I was done I looked at what would have happened if I'd included the 1 and 5 star rankings, and it looks like with a few exceptions stadiums would have loosely benefited or been hurt according to their respective team’s performances in recent years – Busch Stadium and Fenway would move up, for example, while Petco and Rogers would fall.

Before anyone criticizes… I'm just a math geek curious about how different the general public's view might be from that of the chaser "common knowledge" that I seem to see. Approximately 97,000 individual rankings were compiled for these results, and I do disagree with a lot of the cumulative results myself. However, I thought others might be curious in what the general public appears to think.

So, from “worst” to first:

3.326 O.co Coliseum
3.413 Tropicana Field
3.433 U.S. Cellular Field
3.449 Marlins Park
3.460 Rogers Centre
3.478 Petco Park

3.525 Dodger Stadium
3.533 Yankee Stadium
3.555 Wrigley Field
3.562 Minute Maid Park
3.573 Angel Stadium
3.585 Kauffman Stadium

3.602 Turner Field
3.614 Chase Field
3.614 Citi Field
3.618 Progressive Field
3.626 Fenway Park

3.652 Busch Stadium
3.658 AT&T Park
3.659 PNC Park
3.662 Nationals Park
3.664 Miller Park
3.668 Safeco Field
3.678 Coors Field
3.684 Citizens Bank Park
3.697 Great American Ball Park
3.698 Comerica Park

3.715 Globe Life Park
3.725 Target Field
3.750 Camden Yards

There are certainly a few results in there which surprise me (PNC and AT&T at 11th & 12th?), but again, this is the general public, so their criterion certainly differs from mine or this group's. I'd be curious as to why people might think some of the unexpected results came out the way that they did.

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Comment by Johnny Boy on March 5, 2014 at 8:00pm

Mark... Appreciate your feedback. Definitely an interesting project you have undertaken. I am certain the "homer" effect skews the results, the level of interest in baseball, the exposure one has to visiting other parks and having something to compare all play some role I am sure in how one subjectively rates the "best park". Personally, its not always the amenities or how far I have to walk to a restroom that makes or breaks a ball park.. I think its more the intangibles that you cant quantify; the feeling one gets when you walk up the ramp for the first time and see the lush green grass of the field. I can not wait to see PNC and Busch this summer with their gorgeous backdrops. By the same token, I am equally excited to see Wrigley and all that's wrong compared to modern day parks. So subjective are ratings of anything; hotels, vacation spots, favorite breakfast spots etc that I wonder how much "set and setting" play a role in defining the "best". Who were you with, what was the weather, what was the memory you created, etc. Great job.. interesting results. Thanks!

Comment by Mark O (22) on March 5, 2014 at 7:32pm

To answer Craig... if you're on Facebook, places categorized as Places give visitors the opportunity to rate them. For example, the Safeco page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safeco-Field/145312482155480), just under the name, has a 4.5 star rating with a parenthetical note saying it's over 8240 ratings. If you mouse over the stars, it'll tell you specifically how many people gave it 5 stars, how many 4, and so on. They're not ranking parks (or anything), simply rating the individual place. Somewhere on that same page (in my case its a couple boxes down on the right) is a "Review" box where you can rate the park.

Odds are pretty good that a highly huge number of those people rating Safeco have never been to any other park, so to some degree this is probably mostly useful as a rating of local satisfaction with your park. There's also the confounding factor of people confusing it with the team - the Royals' and Reds' respective parks' numbers are, to my eyes, specifically iffy as apparent attempts to merge their Stadium page with their team page have made something of a hash of their stats. There's also the factor that you don't have to actually have been there to rate it, which is why probably the more popular teams would have a higher number of '1' ratings - internet haters out saying "so and so sucks" (which is in part why I just dropped the 1 and 5 ratings and just looked at the middle ones - haters and luvvers wouldn't be likely to use 2-4 as their rating, only people with an honest opinion would use 2-4).

In any case... I was just confusing how some sort of larger scale rating would compare these stadiums, and that seemed a usable choice. I've kind of realized I have a biased view myself - when I go to a far away park I know there are decent odds I'll never return, so I get as good of seats as I reasonably can. I absolutely loved the White Sox park, and was later surprised at how many hate it, but apparently the upper levels are miserable. I spent no time up there, so wouldn't realize that, while most of the general public definitely would. Similarly, I don't really notice food/parking costs (I paid much more in hotels and travel to get there), while that'll definitely impact a local's experience. For the most part, that's what these ratings would reflect, I think - the locals' opinion. Plus I'm just a stats geek that likes to see what numbers say...

In reply to Johnny - yep, I definitely agree. This is not intended as scientific in any way. After doing this, I did go back and look at the including the 5s and 1s. What I did was chart the difference between the two (rating including 5s and 1s minus the ratings including only the 2-4s) and there was a very strong pattern that showed that the better a team has done in the past few year, the more their rating would have jumped. Busch and Fenway, for example, jump way up. Wrigley, from memory, didn't significantly change. The teams who've done poorly recently dropped. The two strong exceptions were the Nationals and As, both of whom I think have done well recently (though maybe I'm just remembering the Nats good year overly strongly), but both of whom got no bump from it. In any case... that trend (the better a team has done, the better a '5' bump their stadium got), made me think I was right to go the way I did, and the many of the 5s weren't real stadium rankings, but more "my team rocks!" rankings). Again, though - this is all not scientific in any way, just my running the numbers to see what they did.

Comment by David Lasdon on March 4, 2014 at 11:12pm

I used to feel the same way about the old time parks, but have changed my mind since starting my quest. Compared to other stadiums, the experience at Dodger and Wrigley Field was awful. Yes, we can all love the old fashioned quaintness, but the food and beer give you few choices, and they lack modern amenities. There's no jumbotron at Wrigley Field. Yes, I know we're all supposed to be purists but places like Great American Ball Park and Citizens Bank Park have all these amenities because they make the experience better.

Comment by Johnny Boy on March 4, 2014 at 7:27pm

Its been a number of years since my last stat's class however, as you point out, baseball is truly a culmination of subjective experiences. There are two ballparks that I would immediately rate a 5 star; Fenway and Wrigley given their iconic status within the game. By tossing the 5's, are you not immediately biasing these two parks by decreasing the aggregate N? Of the 30 parks, I would guess PNC, Busch, Fenway and Wrigley would garner a good 60% of the top 5 cited by fans as being "the best". Just curious how you control for eliminating that "iconic status" variable?

Comment by Craig (14) on March 4, 2014 at 1:39pm

This is fascinating! Thanks for sharing with us. Can you tell more about how you pulled data from Facebook? Is there a link we can see that shows individuals ranking ballparks?

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