#5. Petco Park: Padres
I had heard a number of times that Petco Park is one of the nicest stadiums in baseball. This was one of the modern parks that I most wanted to see. Finally, I got to see a game there. After seeing games at PNC Park, AT&T Park, and Busch Stadium (a few of the nicest modern parks), I had some optimistic expectations for Petco, and I was thankfully not disappointed.
The outside of Petco Park is made of all tan/brown stone or brick tiles. The coloring perfectly matches much of the architecture in southern California. Also on the exterior were a number of balconies with flowers or bushes growing over the edges. Again, this perfectly blended in with the architecture in the area and helped give the stadium a bit of a “Mexican” feel too it.
When you are going to enter the park, I highly recommend entering behind the left-center stands. This takes you into the area behind the outfield where they have the Park in the Park. This is a really cool area that is all grass and hilly. Fans can purchase tickets to sit in this area where they can picnic, play catch, and have fun during the game, all while having a view of the field in front of them. There is even a mini little league field where kids can play whiffle ball. For fans who don’t have a great view of the playing field, there is a large video screen on the back of the batters-eye that shows a live feed of the game being played. This Park in the Park is one of the most unique, but nicest features I have seen at an MLB stadium.
Going along with the Park in the Park theme, the stadium designers added another cool feature behind the outfield fence. Just beyond the right-center wall, there is a large area of sand. In this are, kids can play in the sand during the game, and there are even beach chairs in place so that people can sit barefoot in the sand and watch the game (you need a specific ticket for those “beach seats.”) Behind this sand area are numerous rows of backless seats. The interesting part about this is that the ground, if that’s what you want to call it, is all grass in this area as well.
The main-level concourse here is great. It is very spacious and allows you to have a view of the field at almost all times. One negative about the concourse is that it is very confusing and “zig zagging” at times, especially in the left field area. It is tough to describe in writing what I mean, so I guess you’d just have to see it to understand. That is the only complaint that I have regarding the concourse, however.
The food selection at Petco is very good. They have everything from hot dogs, to brats, to Mexican food, to barbecue and seafood. I personally went with a BBQ beef brisket sandwich, which was very good.
The seating here is excellent. I sat in the lower level down the right field line and had a great view of the entire field. Based on what I saw while walking around the park, pretty much every seat is a good seat except the ones in right-center that I described a little earlier. Those seats somewhat block your view of part of center field and left field. One of the most unique things about the seating were some of the sky-boxes. There were sky-boxes built into the light towers down both the left and right field lines, which was pretty cool.
The scoreboard, which sits in left field, was not too big, nor too small. It provided me with all the the information that I wanted while watching the game, and I always like a lot of statistics. It also provides replays and other videos throughout the game.
The fans in San Diego were not great, but they weren’t bad either. They were definitely into the game being played, but they were also frequently sidetracked by doing the wave and batting beach balls around. I hate when fans do that stuff, so that was a big negative to me.
All in all, this was really a very nice park and lived up to expectations. While I wouldn’t rate it quite as high as PNC Park or AT&T Park, this is one of the best stadiums in baseball. I would really encourage you to see a game at Petco Park if you’re ever in San Diego.
#4. AT&T Park: Giants
This is arguably the most attractive park in baseball. AT&T Park sits right next to the McCovey Cove and the Pacific Ocean. That alone gives this park 3/4 of its overall attractiveness. The outside of AT&T Park is all brick and looks really cool. When walking up to the stadium, make it a point to stop and see the Willie Mays statue just outside the home plate entrance to the park. Also, if you feel like taking a bit of a walk, go see the Willie McCovey statue, which is located just across the McCovey Cove. Once you have done that, I would recommend taking a walk around the entire park. There are some really nice views of the bay, and you can see the whole exterior of the stadium. Inside AT&T park, I was reminded a bit of Camden Yards. The seating all seems to be right on top of the field, and you always feel close to the action. The concourses here were a bit more narrow than some of the other parks I have been to, but I didn’t really mind it. It almost gave the park more of a “throwback” feel to it. Because of the Giants’ rich history, AT&T Park automatically gives off an “old-time baseball” sense the second you enter its gates. When in your seat, you will most likely find yourself constantly gazing around the park because of its appearance, and at the ocean if your seats are high enough. If you happen to attend a night game here, you are in for a treat. Starting around the 6th inning or so, the fog created by the ocean starts to roll in off the bay and hovers over the field. It is truly a bizarre, but awesome sight. I had never seen anything like that at a baseball game. There have been a couple of instances where I believe the game had to be paused because the fog was too dense. Also, even if you are seeing a Giants game in mid July, bring a jacket or a sweatshirt to the game with you. It can get pretty cold in San Francisco during the middle of the summer, especially when all you’re doing is sitting in a seat without moving around. If you are ever in San Francisco, I would definitely suggest taking in a Giants game, along with all of the other attractions that the city has to offer.
#3. PNC PARK: Pirates
Clearly, I have not been to each MLB stadium, but I will say with confidence that PNC Park is the nicest and most attractive park in all of baseball. You can tell just from looking at this picture just how incredible the scenery is at PNC. The entire city skyline is perfectly visible from every seat in the stadium, as well as the Clemente Bridge. If there is one piece of advice that I could give someone who is going to PNC Park, it would be to walk to the game and walk across the Clemente Bridge. I have been the PNC Park on two separate occasions, and one of my favorite things about attending games here is being able to walk across that bridge. While on the bridge, you have the entire city of Pittsburgh standing right behind you, and PNC Park is waiting for you on the other side. Also, you can look up and down Allegheny River and get some great views of the area by doing so. Once you get across the bridge, the Roberto Clemente statue is sitting right on your left. I highly suggest you take a look at it. There are statues of Honus Wagner, Willie Stargell, and Bill Mazeroski outside the park as well. The exterior of PNC Park is made of white/cream-colored bricks, which I had never seen used on a baseball stadium before. When you enter the park, you will notice how wide open the walkways/concourses are. No matter where you are in the park, you will always gave a good view of the field and the city skyline. Once you are in your seat, all that’s left is to take in the incredible view that is in front of you, and enjoy. There really aren’t enough words to describe the overall attractiveness of PNC Park.
#2. FENWAY PARK (built in 1912): Red Sox
Every baseball fan needs to experience a game at Fenway Park before it is inevitably torn down. When you are at Fenway, you are breathing history, not air. Fenway Park kind of sits in the middle of a neighborhood area. It’s a little hard to describe through writing. If you are going to attend a game here, get there early. I would recommend a little bit even before the gates open. It is critical that you walk around the entire park and check out the couple of statues that are there, as well as the retired numbers that are placed on the outside of the stadium. Also, make sure to notice the architecture of Fenway Park from the outside. It doesn’t even really look like a baseball stadium while walking around it. It honestly looks like an old, brick office building, which stands as a testament to its age. Before entering the park, check out the numerous bars and restaurants that surround the stadium (you can do this after the game as well). It is a really lively area both before and after each game. Also, enter Fenway through the Yawkey Way entrance. This is the most “famous” street that runs outside of Fenway Park. Yawkey Way is lined with merchandise shops and little places to eat. It is really worth checking out. When you first step inside of Fenway Park, the lower level concourse doesn’t look as old and run-down as one would expect. Granted, renovations have been made to the stadium over the years, but I still thought it would have looked older than it did. While walking around the concourse, the playing field is not visible, but that’s because stadiums were built differently back in the early 1900’s. The concourse is definitely more narrow than in most other parks, and the steel beams holding up the grandstand are very present. When you decide that it’s time to walk up the steps from the concourse and into the grandstand, I guarantee you that your heart will begin racing. I know mine did. Once you reach the top of the steps, you will want to stand there and not move. My first reaction was to stop and stare at the scene in front of me for as long as I could without being told to move. I could literally feel the history of Fenway running through my body. It was a feeling that I have only experienced at one other location… One of the first things I noticed when walking to my seat was that the seats under the overhang of the upper deck were still the original, wood seats. These seats are colored navy blue, while the newer, plastic seats are red. I thought that was pretty cool. Once you are finally in your seat, just admire what you are looking at. The amount of history that has taken place in that park is incomparable to all but one other stadium in baseball. The most obvious part of the park that will stand out to you is the Green Monster in left field. If you have a chance, make sure to go up to the top of it once the game is over. During the game, you need a ticket in order to get up there, as well as the upper deck. The atmosphere at Fenway Park is fantastic. It is always filled to capacity, and the Boston fans are as passionate about their team as any other fans in baseball. After the top of the 8th inning has ended, the song “Sweet Caroline” is played over the sound system, and everyone joins together and sings the entire song in unison. It is quite the event. Please, if you are a serious baseball fan, plan a trip to Boston and go see Fenway Park. It will be an experience you will never forget.
#1. WRIGLEY FIELD (built in 1914): Cubs
Call me biased, and I probably am, but I don’t care. Wrigley Field is my favorite place in the world. Being a die-hard Cubs fan, there is no other place I would rather be on a July afternoon than at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs play. To get the best experience possible when going to Wrigley, it all starts with walking up and down Clark Street. Clark Street is literally lined with bars and restaurants as far as you can see. There is no other street like it around the MLB. It is imperative that you check some of those places out. There are also many different Cubs merchandise shops and stands all around the stadium that are worth taking a look at. Once you’re done with that, make sure to walk around the outside of Wrigley. Waveland Avenue, maybe the most famous street in baseball, is lined with “ball hawks” before and during the game trying to catch home run balls from batting practice and the actual game itself. You will also notice that on top of all of the apartment buildings down Waveland and Sheffield Avenue that there are bleachers/seats set up. People will sit on top of the rooftops and watch the Cubs games from there. It is truly one of the more unique aspects to any stadium in baseball. While walking around the stadium, be sure to see the Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Harry Caray statues that are located around the ballpark. When you have decided that it is time to enter the park, go in through the entrance behind home plate at the corner of Clark and Addison Streets. It is there that you will see the big, red Wrigley Field marquee above the entrance. Once inside the concourse, you will realize just how old Wrigley Field is. The concourse definitely looks like it was built in 1914, and it is extremely narrow. Like Fenway, you cannot see the field from the concourse. Before heading to your seat, make sure to check out the bathroom (if you’re a guy). They are set up pretty uniquely. As you walk up the steps to the grandstand, your heart will begin racing (just like with Fenway Park) in anticipation of finally seeing Wrigley Field. When you get to that top step, you will think that you have just entered Heaven. It is a sight that you will never forget in your life. The green ivy on the wall, the green, manual scoreboard, the greenest grass in the world, and the rich history of Wrigley Field make you feel as though you are walking on air. Wrigley Field is the physical definition of “baseball,” and you will notice this the second that you enter the grandstand. When you are in your seat, you will most likely find yourself in awe of the scene that is present just in front of you. The seats at Wrigley are all right on top of the field, more so than maybe other stadium in baseball. On top of the scoreboard in center field, you will notice that a flag for each National League team is present. The flags are placed in columns by division, with each division leader’s flag placed at the top of their division, followed by the team in second place, then third place, and so on. The scoreboard at Wrigley is the only manually operated scoreboard in the entire MLB. There is no jumbo-tron or anything like that at Wrigley Field. It is all about old-time baseball. The Cubs’ retired numbers are on flags that hang from each foul pole. Also on each foul pole reads the phrase, “Hey Hey!” in honor of the Cubs former TV broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, who would repeat this phrase each time the Cubs hit home run. The main reason that I have Wrigley placed ahead of Fenway is because of it attractiveness. Fenway has too many advertisements doesn’t have the backdrop that Wrigley Field does. Wrigley Field is one of Chicago’s greatest attractions, and is a must-see for all baseball fans.
I hope everyone enjoyed my list of MLB stadiums. I am sure that many of you will disagree with some of my rankings, so feel free to share those thoughts with me in the “comments” section. Thanks for reading!