The Stadium Tour

After 3 1/2 years covering baseball on a full-time basis, I can finally say I have covered a game in all 30 major-league stadiums. I completed the circuit this week, when I traveled to Houston to see the Yankees take on the Astros at Minute Maid Park. With that in mind, this seems like a perfect opportunity to give my personal rankings of the ballparks around America. Of course, there is plenty of subjectivity here. Everybody values different things in a stadium. But for baseball lovers, debating the merits of certain stadiums is only a notch below debating who should be in the Hall-of-Fame. So here we go. — Jared

10. Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)
A beautiful city like Seattle deserves a beautiful ballpark, and Safeco Field achieves that goal. The quirky roof protects from the rain while still allowing the lovely Pacific Northwest weather  to come through, and the concessions rank among the best in baseball—this is Seattle, after all. High marks go to the sushi and the Thai options at the deliciously punny Intentional Wok.
9. Target Field (Minnesota Twins)
What a marvelous job the Twins did with their new home, perfectly honoring the franchise’s past while moving into the future. The Minneapolis weather could prove problematic when the Twins return to the playoffs, but on a pretty Midwestern summer days, few stadiums beat this place. I especially love the giant Minnie and Paul logo in straightaway center field.
8. Marlins Park (Miami Marlins)
I bet you didn’t expect to see this one here. Let’s put aside for a moment the ugly circumstances of the politics surrounding the construction of this ballpark. Purely as a stadium, it came out incredibly well. The Marlins aspired for something completely different and succeeded, building what Mike describes as the South Beach Death Star. I dig it. The zaniness of the home run sculpture makes me incredibly happy, and the Taste of Miami food court offers some of the best options in the league. Try the fried snapper sandwich.
7. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
I wish I could combine Fenway and Wrigley and put them together as the “old ballparks.” But I can’t. So why did I rank Fenway behind Wrigley? While the facility feels a bit more up-to-date in Boston, I find the atmosphere in Chicago just a bit more charming. The incredible intensity of Boston plays into it to some extent: Red Sox fans sometimes turn Fenway into a pressure cooker, which works in the playoffs, but I personally prefer the pleasant, care-free experience at Wrigley.
6. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)
It lacks even the most basic stadium amenities, offers no concessions worth eating and seems capable of crumbling at any moment, but how can any baseball fan not love Wrigley Field? On a day off last year, Mike and I sat in the bleachers for a game at Wrigley with a couple friends. What a treat. I love the day games and the neighborhood. It feels like stepping into the past.
5. Petco Park (San Diego Padres)
Buying a ticket for a game at Petco Park essentially guarantees a perfect day: a brilliant blue sky, bright sunshine and a baseball game. I can’t think of many things better. You can’t beat the location of Petco Park, right in downtown San Diego, a phenomenal city. I love the view and the amazing Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field. Petco Park simply makes me feel good.
4. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Goodness, what a view. The bridges! The city skyline! The river! Just perfection. Great location, too: I really enjoy the experience of walking to the ballpark over the Roberto Clemente Bridge and checking out the statues around the stadium’s perimeter. The last few years have reaffirmed Pittsburgh as a premier baseball city, and PNC Park reflects that fact.
3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)
Still an absolute gem after all these years. Camden Yards started the retro ballpark trend and, as far as I am concerned, continues to set the standard for this type of stadium. I love the warehouse in right field and the really cool walkway along Eutaw Street. The crab cakes don’t hurt, either. Over the years, many stadiums have tried to imitate the splendor of Camden Yards. No stadium has totally succeeded.
2. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
What?! The incredible, world-renowned, universally acclaimed AT&T Park at No. 2? Believe it. Look, I can’t say a bad word about this place. I adore San Francisco with all my heart and soul. You can’t beat the view of the water, and the food ranks either No. 1 or No. 2 in the major leagues. (Try the Cha-Cha Bowl. So good) So don’t take this as an indictment almost indescribably spectacular stadium—consider it a testament to my No. 1 pick.
1. Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)
I am obsessed with Dodger Stadium. I dream about Dodger Stadium. When I think about baseball, I picture Dodger Stadium. When I die, I hope heaven includes a never-ending supply of games played Dodger Stadium. I can’t explain the feeling of stepping inside this perfect stadium. The grass looks greener here than anywhere else. The sky looks bluer. You look out beyond the scoreboard and see San Gabriel Mountains and the splendor of Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium represents a version of Los Angeles that no longer exists—maybe it never existed—but you wish with all your heart and soul that it did.

And the rest…

  1. Citi Field (New York Mets)

The location hurts Citi Field. Seriously, nobody on the planet likes taking the 7 train to Flushing. But this stadium ranks so high really for one reason: the food. The Mets did a spectacular job with the concessions here, highlighted by Shake Shack and Blue Smoke barbecue in center field, plus the incredible sandwiches at Mama’s of Corona in the right-field corner.

 

  1. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies)

An underrated ballpark, in my mind. I really like the view of the Philadelphia skyline, plus I like the concessions, especially Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks and the branch of Federal Donuts. Mmmmm…. donuts.

  1. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)

This one has lost a little of its luster over the years. It hasn’t aged quite as well, especially when compared to some of the newer parks. But I still really like Coors Field, especially at sunset. Plus, lots of home runs all the time!

  1. Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City Royals)

The fountains. Nothing else matters. Oh, and the really awesome crown on the center field scoreboard. Seriously, though, Kauffman Stadium charms me. Going there reminds me of “Field of Dreams.”

  1. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)

A weird place, but a cool place. I like all the quirks, especially that wacky hill in straightaway center. I like the train. Plus, Minute Maid Park offers surprisingly good food: Tex-Mex and barbecue. How appropriate.

  1. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers)

Some people criticize Miller Park for its location, but I view it as a positive. Folks in Milwaukee loves to tailgate, and I can’t think of a better stadium in baseball to tailgate than Miller Park. Plus, I love Bernie the Brewer and that awesome slide in left field.

  1. Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)

 

Another one that hasn’t aged all that well. The decline in attendance over the years has probably contributed to that fact. Credit to the local food options, though. All teams should have local restaurants open outposts in their city. I hope the Indians start winning again the this place starts rocking again.

  1. Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)

I’m trying to fight my love of California and the stadium’s proximity to Disneyland and rank Angel Stadium objectively. I like the rock work and the water in the outfield, plus the giant A outside, but nothing else really stands out.

  1. Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers)

I feel like I need more experience here. I’ve covered fewer games at Comerica Park than any stadium in the majors. I like the view, the catcher’s walk between the mound and the plate and the surprisingly good Greek food.

  1. Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds)

A river, but not much else. I do enjoy the chicken and waffles at the Taste of Belgium stand—an example of a local restaurant opening an outpost in the stadium. Generally, though, not much jumps out.

  1. Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)

 

I miss the place across the street. The new Yankee Stadium is objectively nicer than its predecessor, but it lacks that intangible feeling of the old Stadium. I just can’t imagine the new Yankee Stadium shaking like the stadium from my childhood. This one is too sterile, too bland. A billion dollars doesn’t buy you as much as it used to.

  1. Busch Stadium (St. Louis Cardinals)

An amazing view of the arch in center, but not much else. Mediocre concessions hurt Busch Stadium. That view of the arch, though. Major thumbs up.

  1. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)

There’s a tamale stand with a really cool backstory down the third-base line: A former security guard at the stadium used to make these tamales, and they were so loved that he was allowed to start selling them during games. Amazing. Other than that, not much to report.

  1. Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)

I sort of like the funkiness of Rogers Centre, but let’s face it: It’s a version of the future that really never came to pass, so now it just looks weirdly dated.

 

  1. Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers)

Way too much going on here. It’s just too busy, with too many elements.

  1. Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)

A retro park without any of the charm of a retro park. Seriously, when you think of Nationals Park, what do you think of? My mind just goes blank. There’s a view of the Capitol if you’re high enough, but most people can’t see it. Also, the Shake Shack here is clearly inferior to its New York counterpart.

  1. U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox)

Built just before the retro-park boom, and it shows. It’s just sort of… there.

  1. Turner Field (Atlanta Braves)

I think Turner Field probably looked old even when it was new. On the one hand, it’s absurd that the Braves are moving to a new park next year after 20 years, because this place is still perfectly functional. On the other hand, when the best part of your stadium is that it has a Chick-fil-A, you’re in a trouble.

  1. Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays)

Do I need to elaborate? The Rays are probably going to relocate their entire franchise one day because of this stadium. It’s in an atrocious location, it’s domed, and it’s not good.

  1. O.Co Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)

I refuse to even offer a comment. Just know it’s awful.

 

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