MLB stadium rankings: #5-1

#5. Petco Park: Padres

DSC00190

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 DSC00164perfectly 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 DSC00182mini 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 DSC00175chairs 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 DSC00177earlier. 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!

Advertisements

MLB stadium rankings: #22-17

It is my goal to make it to every stadium in Major League Baseball, and so far I have been to 22 of them. Here, I have ranked all of the stadiums I have been to in order of my least favorite, to my favorite. When ranking the stadiums, I take all things into account from appearance, atmosphere, seating, food, etc.

#22. MILWAUKEE COUNTY STADIUM: Braves/Brewers

As we all know, this stadium is now long gone, thanks to Miller Park. When County Stadium was still around, however, there wasn’t much to it to write home about. It was by no means an attractive stadium, and had very little excitement surrounding it. I guess the most “unique” thing about it was Bernie’s slide in the outfield. One thing that this stadium had that all new parks are without is some history. Some of baseball’s greatest players played in games at Milwaukee County Stadium. Hank Aaron called it “home” for sometime. Others such as Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, etc. played in games here as well. However, with all of that considered, Milwaukee County Stadium finds itself last on my list.

#21. ROGERS CENTRE: Blue Jays

First off, no baseball stadium should have its name end in “Centre/Center.” Second of all, in today’s day in age, no MLB team should have to play on artificial turf anymore. With that said, Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays, is quite an interesting place. The first thing I noticed when I entered the building was that their concourses were all carpeted. I had never seen that before at a baseball stadium. Another odd thing about this stadium is that the seats along the left and right field lines retract to make more room for the Canadian Football League games that are played there. Also, there is a hotel located in center field at Rogers Centre. People staying there can look right out there windows onto the field, or they can step out onto the balcony and watch the game. As for the atmosphere, this place can get pretty loud when the roof is closed. The fans that do show up get pretty into the game. Speaking of the roof, it is 31 stories high and was the first fully retractable roof in the world. All in all, Rogers Centre should not play host to baseball games.

#20. OLD BUSCH STADIUM: Cardinals

Even though I have this so low on my list, I really did enjoy being at the old Busch Stadium. It was built during the middle of the “bowl” era, along with Three Rivers Stadium, Veterans Stadium, and Fulton County Stadium. One cool thing about this place was that, being in St. Louis with the St. Louis Arch, they created mini arches along the top of the stadium, as you can see in the picture. I would have to bet that a lot of people who attended a game here never realized the significance of that, or never even noticed the arches. The atmosphere at old Busch Stadium was pretty intense for each game. When I was there, I was there to see the Cubs take on the Cardinals. The only other atmosphere that I have seen get as hostile as this one when the Cubs were in town is Miller Park, but I’ll get to that later. Another thing that I thought was unique was that the walkways to get from one level to the next wrapped around the outside of the stadium. As you would walk up/down these walkways, you could look right out onto the street and the city. This was not a bad place to see a game.

#19. U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (formerly Comiskey Park): White Sox

Prior to this past weekend, I hadn’t been to the Cell in almost 10 years or so. During that gap in time, U.S. Cellular Field endured some renovation projects that really did make the park a lot nicer to look at. Before going down to the game this weekend, I didn’t think very highly of the park based on what I had seen when I was there in the past. Now, I have some new and similar opinions compared to the ones that I had before this past weekend.

The outside of the stadium looks pretty cool. I’m not a huge fan of concrete exteriors, but it doesn’t look all that bad on the Cell. Walking up to the stadium from the east you get a cool view of the park from beyond the left field bleachers. You’re also walking over the Dan Ryan expressway at the same time. When you get up to the stadium on the north side of the park, there is a really cool Chicago sports store that sells merchandise for the Sox, Cubs, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. I would recommend checking this place out. On the second floor of the store, you can actually have your game ticket scanned and then walk over a bridge (over 35th street) and into the park. The store and stadium are connected by this walkway/bridge.

My seat was in the upper deck for this game. Apparently at U.S. Cellular Field, if your seat is not in the first level, you are not allowed to walk around the park on the main level. You are restricted to whichever level your seat is on. If you have read any of my past write-ups on MLB stadiums, you know by now that one of my favorite things to do is walk around each park that I go to. Well, since I was restricted this past weekend to only the upper level of the park, I couldn’t walk around the whole stadium. This really hacked me off. No other park in baseball that I have been to (17 of them) has had this “rule.” So since I wasn’t able to walk around the lower level of the park, I got a good look at the upper level concourse.

The concourse on the upper level was actually pretty spacious, considering the stadium was built in 1991. The playing field is not visible while walking around the concourse, but that’s the way that every upper deck in baseball is. Along the field-side of the concourse, the wall was lined with old pictures from the White Sox’ history. This was a nice touch and provided something interesting to look at/read while walking along the concourse. The food seemed to be pretty decent. I had a pulled pork sandwich, which wasn’t great nor bad.

The playing field itself is not the most attractive in baseball, but it’s not terrible either. When the park was first built, the big “wall” behind the outfield stands used to be made up of white pillars. Since the renovations were done on the park, those pillars holding up the advertisements have now been painted black, which looks a lot better than the white did. The original seats that were put into the park were blue, but have since been switched to a dark green color. Again, the dark green looks a lot better than the blue. Also, a small deck/patio area was built above and behind the left field bleachers during renovations. They call it the “Fundamentals” area where kids can get some quick baseball tips and lessons I believe. Don’t quote me on that. The scoreboard in dead center field is nothing great. They carried over from the old Comiskey Park the lollipop-looking circles that sit atop the scoreboard. Aside from that, there’s nothing too interesting about it. The screen on the scoreboard that shows replays and videos is pretty small in comparison to other parks. This screen also provides statistics about each player during the game, and give the score of the game obviously. Behind the right field bleachers is another screen that gives more statistics as well as the batting order for each team. Just beyond the center field wall there is a black platform that is covered in green ivy which looks pretty nice. It acts as the batter’s eye.

Going back outside the park, the surrounding area is a lot nicer and safer than what it used to be. There is about a 3-4 block perimeter surrounding the park that has been nicely redone and is now much safer to walk around than it used to be. Just don’t stray too far outside that area…

That’s pretty much all I can write about regarding this park for now. Maybe in the future I’ll get to access the lower level.

#18. CHASE FIELD: Diamondbacks

I never actually saw a game here, but I did get to see the stadium. From the outside, this place looks like a huge airplane hangar. You don’t realize it’s a baseball stadium until you’re close enough to read the signs on the side of the stadium. Once you’re inside, you can tell how large this place actually is. The upper deck here is one of the bigger upper decks I have seen, in terms of the number of rows that it has. The scoreboard in center field is pretty cool. It has a very nice HD screen that makes it easy for everyone to read. Also, a swimming pool is located in right-center field that fans can swim in and hangout at during the game. I’m pretty sure you must have purchased a specific ticket to be able to do that. The most unique feature of Chase Field has to be the walkway/porch that sits right below the scoreboard. This area actually hangs over the warning-track and has caused some odd ricochets in the past that have led to multiple inside-the-park home runs. I definitely want to go back to Chase Field to see a game.

#17. DODGER STADIUM: Dodgers

DSC00265

It is the third oldest park in the big leagues and has quite a bit of history to go along with it. For those reasons, I really wanted to see a game at Dodger Stadium. After finally doing so, I must say that this is one of the more unique parks in baseball because of its location.

Known as “Chavez Ravine,” Dodger Stadium is just that. The stadium sits in a ravine, which makes hard to even tell that their is a baseball stadium at that site. As you are approaching the gates to the parking lot, you would never know that their is a baseball stadium sitting on the other side of the hill/mountain to your left. Then once you get into the parking lot, you can finally see the lights and part of the exterior of the stadium. Speaking of the parking lot, I have never seen a larger parking lot at an MLB stadium than at Dodger Stadium.

Because the stadium is built into a mountain, there really isn’t much of an exterior to the stadium like there is at all modern parks.

The first really odd thing about this park that I noticed was the location of its entrances. When I entered the park, I entered through what would be the home plate entrance at most parks. Here, however, that same entrance takes you straight into the upper deck behind DSC00261home plate. I have never seen a park like this in that you can enter the stadium on its highest level. Just outside the entrance on this level, all of the Dodgers’ retired numbers are placed along the sidewalk with little write-ups about the player who wore that specific number. This was pretty cool.

Once inside the park, in my case the upper deck, you get an immediate great view of the field. You also realize just how high up you are. The upper deck behind home plate at Dodger Stadium is one of the highest and steepest upper decks in baseball. It reminded me a lot of the upper deck at U.S. Cellular Field before they renovated it. Because my seat was on the loge (second) level, I had to take an elevator down to that section of the park.

Because my seat was on the second level of the stadium, I was not allowed to go down to the first level. This kind of irritated me, but I can understand their reasoning. However, I think that regardless of where your seat is, you should still have access to the entire park. Also, the bleacher sections here are separated from the rest of the stadium and you must have a ticket to enter the outfield sections.

DSC00277The concourse on the second level was not horrible, but not great. Since the park was built in the early 60’s, the walkways were a little narrow and not very attractive. I felt like I was looking at a lot of grey concrete. The good part about the concourse was that the field was always in plain view. I like being able to walk around the park and still see the game.

The food at Dodger Stadium was mediocre I thought. Their “Dodger Dogs” were good, but overrated. There weren’t really any foods that jumped out at me or caught my eye while looking over the available options. Some parks, like San Diego, have a ton of choices and unique options.

One of the best features of Dodger Stadium was located in the concourse. Behind most of the seating sections there were counter tops set up for people to stand, eat their food, and watch the game. I took advantage of this and ate my Dodger Dog here. I love being able to get food and go stand somewhere to watch the game while eating.

The seating here was another one of the stadium’s best features. All seats, at least in the second level, were angled toward home plate so that you didn’t have to have your head turned the whole time. Also, the sections only consisted of about 8-10 seats per row, which was nice. That way if you have to get up in the middle of the game, you don’t have to walk through many people to get to the aisle.

In your seat while panning over the field and outfield, you’ll notice that there aren’t too many advertisements. This was a big plus with me as I hate when stadiums are just loaded with ads. The outfield doesn’t have much going on. There are two sections of outfield seating, DSC00292both separate from the rest of the stadium, and both separated from one another by the batter’s eye in center field. There is a large video screen behind both outfield sections that provide replays and statistics throughout the game. Basically, nothing really unique going on out there.

Behind the outfield and off in the distance, you can clearly see the mountains. This helps add some scenery to the park, and really does help make the stadium more attractive.

One of two downsides to this park while sitting in your seat was the batter’s eye itself. At Dodger Stadium, the batter’s eye is really just some black “walls” and mesh, along with a big speaker tower. Other stadiums were able to make their batter’s eye fit in with the rest of the park, but not here. All of that black in center field is just ugly.

The other downside that briefly mentioned is the speaker system. All of the sound that you hear during the game (songs, the PA, etc.) come from that one speaker tower in center field. While this part wasn’t exactly bad, the volume was bad. I thought that the songs and all of that stuff were a little loud for a baseball game. But that’s just me.

The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium was pretty weak. The park was only about half full, and the fans weren’t really that into the game. They did the wave a few times, and I noticed a number of beach balls bouncing around the stands, a couple of which made their way onto the field.

Taking everything into consideration, this was not a bad park, given its age. It could use some upgrades, especially along the concourse, but it was really a nice park. Because it is Dodger Stadium, and because of its location and history, I would recommend seeing a game here if you’re a baseball fan. Non-baseball fans may not enjoy it quite as much.

For 16-12, click here.