Summer 2015 - Ranking the Ballparks

So I've now been to 13 current MLB parks. I thought I'd try to rank them in this post. I'm not going to include Citi Field because I went in 2010, before I became a true "chaser." So there will be 12. I had a good time at each park and would go back to any of them, I just like some more than others. Bear with me, this is long - I bolded the parks if you just want to quickly see my rankings w/o all the commentary.

12. US Cellular Field (went once, in 2013). Easy to get to, fans are engaged. But it lacks distinctiveness & it is much too hitter-friendly. I like that they stayed true to their fanbase by staying on the South Side, but there is just nothing really around the park.

11. Coliseum (went once, 2014). Similar to US Cellular, minus the hitter-friendly part.

10. Miller Park (went this year). It has a bit of a warehouse appearance. You can't see the field for long stretches of the concourse. The park is sort of in the middle of nowhere. But the sightlines are good, the sausage race is hilarious, and "The Beast" alone makes it worth another trip for me. And it was "T-shirt Friday"!

9. Angel Stadium (went 2014 & this year). The big "A" and the giant batting helmets outside are cool. The California Spectacular is an incredible sight. Parking for $10 on-site is great. But there's not much around it. Seats down the line aren't angled properly, which makes for some poor sightlines.

8. Progressive Field (been a few times, most recently June to see my Tigers win there!) The park has been a big part of downtown Cleveland's revival, and there is a great area around it. Good sightlines within, and a cool nod to Fenway with the high left field wall. A downside is that even in 2013 & 2014 with a solid team, the Indians just lacked fan support.

7. Chase Field (went this year). Quality selection of food at lower prices than most parks I've been to, an open concourse, good sightlines. $5 parking just a couple blocks away is a plus. They seem to lack fan support, though.

6. Coors Field (went this year). Creative food selection (try an elk brat). A mostly open concourse makes for a nice walk around the park with interesting views of the game. The Rocky Mountains are in the background if you get certain seats! Friendly crowd, though it was sparse.

5. Wrigley Field (went in 1999 & 2x this year). The history and unique features, like the ivy and the manual scoreboard, push Wrigley up my list. Lively crowds, most fans seem to know the game. Great surrounding area. Just don't try to drive to it, and be careful about what seats you get. Also, you may have to go quite a ways to get food from your seats, and the concourse is overly crowded.

4. Comerica Park (my home park, been to about 60 games). The fans are usually lively and knowledgeable about the game. They've added a lot of new food options lately, making for a wide selection. There aren't many bad seats in the house. The statues in the outfield & the huge tiger at the entrance really add character to the park. You can park for very little just a few blocks away, and you're close to plenty of restaurants and bars.

3. Dodger Stadium (the first game I ever went to was here in 1989, I've been back in 2014 & this year). Beautifully designed. So much history here. Sightlines are quite good. There's a nice selection of food (try the garlic fries). Very passionate crowd. Pre-pay to park on-site for $10 or better yet, park for free on the side streets. The concourse is easy to navigate during play but gets very packed after the final out.

2. Petco Park (went this year). This is an underrated park! Great area, beautiful backdrop within, and good sightlines. Name a food you want, and you'll find it here. They seemed to have an excellent beer selection too. You can park nearby for not much or even park on the street for night games. The only drawback is not much fan support but that should come if the Padres improve.

1. AT&T Park (went this year). And this is coming from a guy whose second team is the Dodgers. There is just nothing wrong with this park except the crazy cost of parking nearby, but that is mitigated by BART. Incredible views. The most outgoing fans I've encountered at any stadium. Like SD, name the food you want and it's there. I could go on and on about this one but if you're anywhere near the Bay Area & the Giants are in town, go!

I hope I can make it to the meetup next year or the year after! I'll actually be heading east tomorrow to catch games at PNC Park, Citizen's Bank Park, Nationals Park, and Great American, plus maybe the minor league park in Dayton. This has been an epic summer of ballpark chasing and it has really added to my excitement about doing this.

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Comment by Mike B on July 30, 2016 at 8:19pm

I want to update this after the meet up in August.  Since I put this post up last August, I've also been to PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Great American Ballpark (those were all in a trip last August), Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium (this May), and finally Busch Stadium and US Cellular Field last weekend.  So I'm up to 20 out of 30 now... hard to believe I was at 8 coming into 2015.  I've been lucky and it's been awesome.

I'll add more detail after the meetup, when my chasing for the year is complete.  But briefly, I'd put PNC, Fenway, and Busch Stadium near the top.  Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium, and Great American Ballpark (thanks to the Reds' HoF Musuem) would be middle-ish.  Nats Park and US Cellular would be towards the bottom.  That being said, I've had a good time at every ballpark I've been to.  I just enjoy some more than others.

Comment by Mike B on September 18, 2015 at 11:14am

Mary, thanks for all the info. I didn't get as much of a chance to really take in all Nats Park had to offer because I was late getting there. I came from Philly in mid-afternoon traffic, drove to my cousin's house in DC, then we took the subway to the game and got there in I think the 2nd inning. I did notice that construction around it though. I was going to get some Shake Shack but the line was too long, so I ended up getting some kind of chili dog, which was really good (I think at the Ben's Chili Bowl stand). I'm hoping to do another ballpark trip out east early next season so if it fits schedule-wise, I'll probably go to Nats Park again (I need to get to Yankee Stadium, Fenway and Oriole Park if possible).

Kerry, thanks for the comment! I really liked Citizens Bsnk Park except it would be cool if it were in downtown Philly. The sports complex idea was cool though. The Mets were playing the Phillies when I was there, so that made for a unique atmosphere with it being split about 50-50 between fans of the two teams.

At some point, I need to post pictures from the Pittsburgh-Philly-DC-Cinci trip and thoughts on those parks. I'll try to do it soon!

Comment by Kerry S (21) on September 8, 2015 at 5:31pm

I really enjoyed reading your post. I've only been to 13 and just a handful of the same stadiums as you, but I'd give them just about the same overall ranking except Miller Park which I really loved. Citizens Bank Park is my home park and I'm glad to see you enjoyed it there!

Comment by Mary (17) on September 7, 2015 at 7:33am
Mike B, I like the access to Nats Park, and the seats are just about all good - the first year we had seats up in 409, which is the top rung, and we were looking down the first base line and had a fabulous view of the Capitol building - wow. The food offerings are also quite strong and imaginative, although expensive, but that is largely true of ballparks. The negatives - would be nice for the building itself to be more distinctive and not be half parking garages. The distinctive view is mostly going away because of construction going on, which I think is a great mistake - and a prime offender is a building owned by the owners of the team, so no excuse for that. Food-wise I wish they had not contracted with Shake Shack to be there - belongs in New York - plus it is really offensive to have someone from New York doing the barbecue with North Caroline so near at hand! (Note to SS - needs a LOT more vinegar.). There are a lot of local food vendors who could be brought in. FYI try sandwiches at Mike Isabella's - they are expensive but huge, so half is plenty.
I think that the view and distinctive features are a big thing in ballparks, also the access to see the field, so I would say that my favorites are Oriole Park at Camden Yards (the warehouse is magnificent, and the home run markers on Eutaw Street are lots of fun - have not seen this elsewhere. View and access, hence my high ratings, go to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, AT&T Park in SF, and Comerica Park in Detroit. The last also has Tigers everywhere, which rates high on distinctive features.
Comment by Mike B on September 6, 2015 at 7:37pm

Mary, how do you like Nats Park compared to others you've been to? I was there a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was cool how you could go up to the second level and watch the game from underneath the scoreboard. I see what you mean about Miller Park. I'm realizing after my trip a couple weeks ago that I'm biased towards the parks that are right in the heart of the city. But I would go back to any of the parks I've been to this year, any time.

Denny, you're right about that, they don't have much of a home crowd at Coors. Though the game I went to, the Rockies won on a walk-off homer so that made it exciting. Enjoy US Cellular, I am hoping to get there and to Wrigley again early next season.

Comment by Denny DeMarcy on September 5, 2015 at 7:49am

Saw Coors Field on Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. Very nice stadium, exactly as you described and yes, the Elk Brat was awesome! Since the Rockies are in the basement, there was not much in attendance. While this made getting food and beer, parking, and walking through the stadium very easy it was not much of a home team atmosphere. Nice stadium though and the view of the Rockies made it unique. Going to Cellular Field next in two weeks.

Comment by Mary (17) on August 29, 2015 at 11:06am

For me a lot of what is interesting about other ballparks is what I don't see at home - my home park is Nats Park, and while there is parking most people use the subway to get there. Miller Park was such a different experience, therefore - we were staying downtown with no car, and we found a city bus that goes to the park only for the games. Fascinating to be driving through the huge parking lots around Miller Park, and to see all the tailgating going on! which we always think of just as a football experience. We also got to see the retractable roof in action, so I rate Miller Park higher than you just based on novelty to me. And ... those brats are great!

Comment by Mike B on August 28, 2015 at 12:40pm

Sounds great Denny, let us know what you think of Coors Field. I think that Wrigley ended up higher on my list because of the nostalgic feel and the history there. The idea of an "obstructed view" seat is just weird in 2015, but there are very few parks anymore where there are decades worth of baseball that were played on that field. And the great moments that go along with that.

I think after this week I'd put PNC Park #2 just behind AT&T... after that I'd go with Citizens Bank Park, Great American, then Nationals Park. I'll add those to my rankings & post some pictures soon!

Comment by Denny DeMarcy on August 25, 2015 at 10:20am

I agree with the comment on PNC park, love that stadium and the backdrop! I have also been to Petco, Wrigley and Dodgers stadiums (although not including them in my page as I wanted to start from scratch when I joined the website). I agree with the heart of the city stadiums as it adds to the overall feel and ambience of a game but there is something about the nostalgic feeling you receive in a stadium like Wrigley and Dodgers as well as Fenway although I was there in 1992. Going to Coors next week, I will take your suggestion on the Elk Brat, thanks!

Comment by Mike B on August 24, 2015 at 10:20pm

Hey guys, thanks for adding to this. PNC Park was a blast. I loved the views of it as you drive in off of I-79 and as you walk over the Clemente Bridge. The setting is great. Beautifully designed park, and a quality food selection. The fans were loud. Overall a very fun time. Also, I happened to be sitting next to a fellow chaser! So that was cool.

I would definitely go back to Miller Park when I can. I guess I'm finding that I really prefer parks that are right downtown, in the heart of the city. I went to Citizens Bank Park tonight and it's another one that's in an odd location, though it was a lot of fun... I'll have to let it all sink in when I get back & figure out where I'd put this week's parks on my rankings.


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