#16. ANGEL STADIUM: Angels
I honestly had no idea what to expect before taking in a game at Angel Stadium. It has always looked like a nice park on TV (at least since it was renovated), but it is also the fourth oldest stadium in the big leagues. I didn’t know if I should expect it to look as old as it is, or if I should expect it to be as nice as it looks on TV. As it turns out, the stadium is kind of in between the two.
Angel Stadium is located right next door to Disneyland and right near some neighborhoods, which is different than most stadiums nowadays. The parking lot is rather large compared to the newer parks, and the architecture on the outside of the stadium is much different than today’s new stadiums.
Right outside the home plate entrance, there is a little plaza where the famous two Angel Helmets are located. In this plaza, there is also a mini baseball diamond that is cemented into the ground. At each position around the diamond, the names of the Angels’ opening day starters, dating back to their first year of existence, are listed at that specific position in the cement. This was pretty interesting to look at, and it was also something I had never seen before at a baseball stadium.
When you enter the park, you enter into a concourse that is closed off from the field of play. There are walls on either side of you. On these walls are many murals and pictures that showcase the history of the Angels. On one wall, there was a glassed-in display that had the Angels’ World Series trophy and other memorabilia in it. I don’t know of another park that has a World Series trophy permanently on display. From this concourse, you can enter your seating section just like you would at any other park.
There is another concourse that takes you around the entire stadium, and this one is not closed off from the field. Except for when you’re behind home plate, this concourse allows you to constantly see the field of play. What was odd was that there were 2 main level concourses. The one that allows you to see the field is located above/behind the lower level sections, while the closed off concourse is located at ground level and under the grandstand. I was a little disappointed that you cannot see the field while walking behind home plate along the concourse. Often, this is the best location to get a great view of the park at most stadiums.
The food here was nothing to write home about. They have your typical selection of hot dogs, burgers, brats, etc. One unique item on the menu was a Barbecue Dog. I did not order this, but I am assuming it is a hot dog with BBQ sauce.
Behind the left field stands, there is an open area with tables where people can sit and eat their food. You do not have a good view of the field from here, however. There is a nice bar located beyond right-center field, but this is completely closed off from the field of play. There are a number of TV’s inside the bar that show the Angels game, as well as other sporting events.
Maybe my favorite part about this stadium was their Budweiser Patio above the right field stands. This is a big, open area for people to stand and watch the game while eating and drinking. There is an outdoor bar located up here as well with TV’s. I would recommend taking a trip up to the Budweiser Patio if you have the chance.
The seating at Angel Stadium was its biggest weakness. My seat was in the second row down the right field line. Maybe it was just that location, but out seats were not angled towards home plate whatsoever. Because of this, I constantly had to have my head turned to the left to see home plate, which led to some major neck-discomfort by the 5th inning. Also, a lot of people down the aisle had to lean forwards to try and see home plate, which blocked the view of anyone to their right. I felt like the whole game I was trying to see around the people to my left, and this got pretty aggravating. With all modern parks, and even the older ones that have been renovated like Wrigley and Fenway, the seats are all angled towards home plate so that you don’t have to constantly have your head turned in one direction. I don’t understand why the Angels couldn’t figure this out.
As for the appearance of Angel Stadium, it is definitely an attractive park. The rock formation in left-center with the water falls/fountains is a very nice touch and is a unique feature to the park.
Behind the left field stands, there is a small video screen that shows videos/replays and statistics throughout the game. The main scoreboard is in right field, which shows those same things, plus some more statistics because it is larger and has more space.
One thing that I found interesting both here and at Dodger Stadium were the sky boxes. At both stadiums, there is only one level of sky boxes. Nowadays, most parks have at least two levels of boxes, if not more. Seeing as how Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium are located in L.A. with a ton of celebrities, I thought there would be a lot more sky boxes than there really are.
The atmosphere at Angel Stadium was not great. I saw the Cubs play the Angels, and the Cubs fans in attendance were just as loud as the Angels fans, which is saying something given the Angels to Cubs fans ratio. The fans here attempted the wave a number of times, and there were beach balls bouncing around the whole game. I don’t understand why people can’t just watch the game. Isn’t that why they came in the first place?
While I wouldn’t classify this as a top-notch stadium, this is a very nice park, except for the seating arrangements. If you enjoy in-game entertainment, then this is a place for you.
#15. GREAT AMERICAN BALLPARK: Reds
I have actually been here on 2 different trips, so I saw more of this park than I did most others. The one thing that immediately stood out to me with the stadium is that it looked a little “cheap.” It seemed as though more money could have been put into this place. With it being built quite recently (2003), one would expect it to be a bit bigger and more “modern” than it really is. Aside from that, this is still a pretty nice place. The concourses are fairly wide, allowing enough room for people to walk comfortably around the park. Also, while walking along the concourse, the playing field is visible to you at all times, which is nice. The Ohio River runs right behind the right field stands, and this helps to add some more attractiveness to the backdrop of the outfield. The scoreboard here is rather large and easy to read. That big, black building located in center field is a party/event room that people can rent out for games, for those who are curious. Maybe the most unique feature about this stadium is that there is a large gap cut out into the middle of the upper deck behind the 3rd base line. To this day, I am still not sure why it is there. Overall, this is a very attractive stadium, and one I would recommend to those who want to take a cheap baseball road-trip.
#14. NATIONALS PARK: Nationals
This is one of the newer parks in the MLB. It opened in 2008 when the Nationals took on the Braves for the opening game of the season. This park definitely has a “modern” feel to it. In a way, it is somewhat similar to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati in that it looks “cheaper” than most of the newer parks around baseball. Don’t get me wrong, this is a really nice park, but I think more could have been done to make this an even better park. When sitting in the upper deck along the right field foul line, you can see the U.S. Capital building in the distance beyond the left field stands. As for the area surrounding the park, there isn’t much to it. In fact, when driving up to the stadium, it is hard to tell that you are looking at Nationals Park. The outside of the stadium looks just like most of the buildings that surround it. It is all white cement. Once inside the park, the concourses are very wide and easy to maneuver. When walking around the concourse, the field of play is always visible. You will notice that I appreciate when this is the case. The seating is great as well. It seemed as though no matter where you sat, you had a good view of home plate. The biggest downside to Nationals Park was the service. The people serving the food there had some of the worst attitudes I have seen. Overall, this is a nice park.
#13. PROGRESSIVE FIELD (formerly Jacobs Field): Indians
Prior to ever seeing a game here, this was the one park that I most wanted to see (besides Fenway). I had a lot of expectations of Progressive Field before going there, and for the most part, the stadium lived up to them. First of all, before even entering the park, make sure to check out some of the restaurants/bars that are in the area surrounding the park. There are a handful of good places to eat before or after the game. Inside the park, the scenery is fantastic. The stadium itself is quite attractive, but to make it even better, the Cleveland skyline is visible in the background. To make things clear, I’m not promoting the Cleveland skyline. I’m just saying that it helps add the to scenery inside the park. As for overall attractiveness, Progressive Field has to be in the top 10 in baseball. There were two things in particular that I did not like about this park. The first being that the playing field is not visible while walking around the concourse. For whatever reason, the concourse is closed in and doesn’t allow you to continue watching the game while out of your seat. The second thing that I didn’t like was that the second level of seats down the left field line consisted of all sky-boxes. To me, that’s not a good way to take in a baseball game. Having made those two complaints, this is still a great park. If you’re ever in Cleveland, definitely make it a point to see an Indians game.
#12. MINUTE MAID PARK: Astros
Minute Maid Park was built on the grounds of Houston’s old Union Station. The largest entrance into the park actually takes you into the old Union Station, and this is a pretty cool room to see for yourself. The outside of Minute Maid looks more like a very large warehouse than it does a baseball stadium. Just outside the park, there is a cool little area set up in the shape of an infield where the statues of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are located. The statues are placed in such a way that Biggio is throwing to Bagwell from second base over to first base. It’s pretty unique. The inside of the park is pretty cool as well. The feature that stands out the most when you are sitting in your seat are the train tracks that are located behind/above the left field wall. Each time that the Astros score a run, a small train (with a conductor) rides along the tracks honking its horn. Another very odd characteristic of this park is the little hill located in center field just past the warning track. This was put in place to mimic the old hill that was present at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. I personally think that this was not a good idea by the Astros because of the possible injuries that this could create. One very good feature of Minute Maid Park is that the seats are all pretty close to the field. It’s not as “spread out” as some other parks. Also, the playing field is always visible from the concourses. After each game, weather permitting, the roof on the stadium opens up, or closes, to show the fans just how that works. One other thing that I want to mention is that their salted pretzels and lemonade are definitely worth purchasing. This is a very nice park.
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