Major League Baseball is one month into its’ 2017 Regular Season.
And, it’s that time of the year when sports fan bases across North America not only mark their calendars for ballgames that they’re willing to pay to see in person, but also a time when fans look forward to potentially visiting a new ballpark to check off of one’s personal bucket list.
The Big Leagues — notorious for its beautiful baseball cathedrals that brighten up each respective city across the United States, and then of course, Toronto, Ontario. Like most, it’s a goal of mine to eventually watch a game in every MLB team’s current stadium.
Each park offers its’ own unique atmosphere, whether it’s because of a city’s loud and loyal crowd, or the ballpark’s architectural design. Some cathedrals are as old as Fenway Park or Wrigley Field (Early 1900’s), while other facilities are still new to the game, and are rewriting history for one’s respective ball club.
I’d like to share which MLB stadiums I’ve personally been to over the years, and also rank them in order starting with my “least” favorite ballpark. This sports fanatic has been to 11 different professional stadiums, in nine different cities, and has even witnessed an outdoor NHL game in one of them, too.
If you don’t know me personally — I have a passion for attending sporting events and at new stadiums, plus arenas, each year.
11.) Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays
Yes, the hockey lover made his way up North and to the home of the Hockey Hall Of Fame back in the summer of 2013. Toronto also pays homage to one of the coolest nicknames in all of Pro Sports — the Toronto Blue Jays.
While I admired, and was surprised, by the passion displayed and amount of Toronto fans that attended the Jays vs. Boston Red Sox game on that chilly plus overcast night, I was somewhat dissatisfied with my visit. Then, the stadium’s main concourse portrayed too much of the color grey, didn’t have good concession stands for food and I felt like I was walking around one of the old Meadowlands Pro Facilities (Giants Stadium & Continental Airlines Arena).
One aspect that didn’t help my reaction was the fact that the retractable roof was closed that night, which led to odd echo noises throughout the park; it had also been my first ballgame that was indoors. The stadium currently has WAY too many seats. The amount of fans that were in attendance that night would have sold out any other stadium, but the vast majority of empty seats (especially the outfield upper decks) made the park less appealing — and probably contributed towards those awkward echoes after a hit ball or just the crowd’s noise in general.
Though, in recent years the playoff games there do look pretty loud and awesome; especially with that hockey goal horn that sounds off after every Blue Jays home run.
Until next time, Toronto.
10.) Shea Stadium – New York Mets
Yes, my fellow New York Metropolitan fans are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in disappointment. Even as a Mets guy, I will say that Shea Stadium overall as an entity wasn’t exactly appealing. However, the Shea crowd and atmosphere that was typically generated throughout the years was one of a kind. Let’s face the reality — Mets fans do it better than Yankees fans.
There was nothing like watching a game on TV (back in the early 2000’s for the Mets), or being at Shea during the night while Hall Of Fame Catcher Mike Piazza approached the plate to bat etc. Shea defined what it meant to have an electric atmosphere at the ballpark, as the consistent sounds of cowbells and “Lets-Go-Mets” chants reminded all fans. Still, as one would walk around the stadium and take in the sights from the seats — it felt like a ballpark that was incomplete.
Behind the outfield fence was too open, and didn’t entail any good sights or skyline — other than a parking lot. Shea had its’ moments, but Citi Field was much needed…
9.) Tropicana Field — Tampa Bay Rays
It’s a shame that I often heard (in the past) that Tropicana Field is nothing special nor worth visiting. After recently going to the ballpark for the first time, I strongly disagree and can prove those comments wrong.
The Trop has had numerous renovations over the past few seasons and is absolutely worth checking out. The navy blue, sky blue and gold colors make for an appealing appearance around the venue, there’s plenty of good food choices and Tampa staples, too. The roof is lower than most indoor parks, and it’s an average temperature inside of 75 degrees. There are also a few cool standing room areas to spectate at while grabbing brewskies with the boys or family.
The park is also located in downtown St. Petersburg, which may be the most underrated city in America, so there’s plenty of places to eat or drink at before/after that are within walking distance too. It’s a fun experience, there’s no doubting that.
8.) Yankee Stadium (New) — New York Yankees
The new Yankee Stadium, which opened up in 2009, does not have the same character as the old Yankee Stadium. The sounds and atmosphere that the old “Stadium” had to offer were lost in the process of building a new and over-the-top modern ballpark.
Its main concourse is nicer and it’s much more convenient to walk around for fans to explore what the new park has to offer to fans — other than the game itself which is being played. Going to the New Yankee is more about the overall experience with all the new and delicious food venues, plus different standing room areas the park entails.
I still think there are too many seats and the park always looks more than half empty; but it still makes for a good time with friends and has panned out to be a good social experience for all.
7.) Progressive Field – Cleveland Indians
Now, don’t take this the wrong way Cleveland, but I have only been to 11 different Major League Stadiums and the home of the Indians falls at number seven for this list. Though, the ballpark was one of the first “new” and innovative fields for the modern era. Originally, Jacobs Field (1994), the design for this ballpark was original and admirably appealing.
The Indians’ left field wall became almost a “mini Green Monster” (Boston Red Sox); and entailed smaller hanging porches over the right-field wall. It’s a cool place to watch a game and take in all of those sounds and sights baseball lovers live for.
For me, I watched a game there vs. the New York Yankees back in 2010 and was about 20 rows behind home plate. That was an ideal seat for this stadium, especially with the sun setting behind the outfield on a beautiful night during late July in Cleveland. It’s a fun and family-oriented experience, but it could use some renovations on the main concourse etc.
6.) AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
While I’ve never actually watched a game at the home of the San Francisco Giants, I did take a tour of the (then Pac Bell Park) as a youngster. The park opened in 2000 and, wow, was this one of a kind and a major upgrade from the club’s former venue, Candle Stick Park.
The park is right on the Bay, which is not only an incredible view but also makes for one heck of an aurora for the city plus park itself. Home runs that sail over the right-field wall typically land in “Mcovey’s Cove,” where paddle boarders and kayaks duel to pick up the valuable souvenir from the water. Other subtle and cool characteristics about this park would be the “old school-like” scoreboard behind center field, the huge Coca-Cola bottle and baseball glove behind left field and of course the brick wall which extends over the right-field fence.j
The pictures of this park speak for itself, but I can assure you that this would be a fantastic place to attend a game. It has the ideal feel of a vintage meets modern day park.
5.) Yankee Stadium (Old) – New York Yankees
The Old Yankee Stadium was classic. There’s no other way to put it.
Even as an “anti-Yankee fan” growing up, I absolutely loved going to games at the Old Yankee Stadium; aka. The Stadium. Fans alike can agree on the fact that they probably got goosebumps every time they entered Old Yankee; whether it was crossing the bridge and listening to the poor man playing baseball songs on his flute, or the sounds of cheers that echoed in an uncanny fashion around the park — that stadium was unique. There was no better sound than hearing the New York crowd uplift in a roar after a bomb of a home run was hit towards the short distanced right field porch; and that moment before the ball finally flew over the fence – that same roar would change into a sound of fans holding their breath for a split second, as if they weren’t sure if it was going to actually make it out of the park or not.
And, of course, no one did it better on the P.A. than Bob Shepard.
4.) Citi Field – New York Mets
Most Major League Baseball fans can confirm that Citi Field was, and is, the better of the two for New York City’s newest ballparks. Citi offers a great experience to all and has a family-oriented feel to it as well. It’s very convenient to explore the ballpark and all of the nukes and crannies the venue has to offer. Citi may just, in fact, have the best food to offer out of all of the stadiums across North America. Hint, the Keith Hernandez Tex-Mex Burger is the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had…
It’s architectural design is very appealing, and the Coca-Cola Right Field Porch is an underrated variable which the park has to offer. While Shea was more electric, Citi has begun writing its own history and has a new generation of dedicated and loud Mets fans.
The outside of the stadium has an old-school appearance, which any sports fan can appreciate. Yet, I still feel like there are just too many seats in some of these new ballparks, which can make the stadiums look, well, rather empty at times. Citi is a victim of that, and the organization and City also need to renovate the area surrounding the venue. There’s potential to have the best set up with a small city-like-town outside of the stadium to enhance that electric New York Mets atmosphere.
3.) Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia Phillies
The City Of Brotherly Love may not always have the most likable professional sports clubs plus fan-bases, but boy do those organizations sure know how to make a sporting event an enjoyable and memorable experience for all the right reasons.
From the eye, the park’s overall display and design is gorgeous. It almost redefined what a Major League Baseball Stadium should, and always should’ve, portrayed. Every minor detail there can be appreciated. Also, it’s more than convenient to get to, especially in comparison to its’ rivals — both of New York’s stadiums. Parking isn’t just easy, but it’s fun too. They have special areas with over-hangers for fans to tailgate, and X-Finity Live is just a short walk away. If you’ve never been interested in going to a baseball game — go to Philly. You won’t regret it. Just make sure you take advantage of what it actually has to offer other than the game itself.
Additionally, I dig the park’s Diamond Club. That experience is worth investing in. Your seats could be located in various sections which surround home plate, and it’s there where you can take in the true appreciation of what these cathedrals have to offer. Also, after the Phillies hit a home run, a replica and giant lit up Liberty Bell sounds off and swings back and forth…
P.S. Go to Chickie’s N’ Petes, which is a five-minute drive from the stadium. It’s the perfect spot to socialize before or after a game, and for all ages. Get the crab fries…make it two orders.
Also, if you’re looking for a good Philly Cheese Steak — don’t waste your time trying to debate between Pat’s or Geno’s — go to Tony Luke’s, or Jim’s on South St.
2.) PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
First and foremost, let me begin this entry by saying Pittsburgh is an awesome and beautiful city. I feel as though it never gets the credit it deserves. It’s a passionate sports city, which is also home to arguably the best MLB ballpark the league has to offer. And, for starters, it’s not overwhelmingly big or has that bulky appearance like most parks portray, currently. It’s overall structure and design is very ideal for the modern era of baseball in my mind. There’s not a bad seat in the house, as the old saying goes.
PNC Park is located at a vibrant location in downtown Pittsburgh, which is surrounded by plenty of fun bars and restaurants. I visited this park back in 2010 and to this day it sits at number two on my list for favorite MLB stadiums. It’s a colorful stadium which is complemented by its scenic city and river view which is probably the best background a stadium can offer. It’s a small park, so numerous home runs a game are likely too. The fans are dedicated and knowledgeable of their “Bucs,” and make the experience that much better inside and outside of the ballpark.
1.) Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
Since 2012, I venture up to Boston every summer and one very big reason why is because of Fenway Park. Home of the Boston Red Sox.
Sure, this is a historic landmark and park in a passionate and unique city, but there’s much more to Fenway than what you see on TV or read online. The Green Monster, in left field, alone might be the most unique wonders professional sports has to offer. Every kid grows up dreaming of not only hitting a home run at a Big League Park but over the Monster at Fenway Park. It’s simply iconic.
The park is tiny compared to other stadiums, but that’s another characteristic that makes this landmark so special. The green and red colors that fill Fenway compliment that vintage feel you were already expecting, and the architecture doesn’t get any more classic than that park. Similar to Old Yankee, you’ll get bigger goosebumps as you head to downtown Boston and Fenway Park. The atmosphere is a thrill like no other, and you may find yourself quickly becoming a Sawx fan before you even enter the park.
Top Five MLB Baseball Stadiums Still On The Bucket List
Minute Maid Park – Houston Astros
Miller Park – Milwaukee Brewers
Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers
Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles
Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs