Major League Baseball's 10 Best Ballparks to Catch a Game
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There have been 21 new ballparks that have opened in the last 20 seasons. Tiger Stadium and the original Yankee Stadium have come and gone, along with the less historic Metrodome, yet Wrigley Field and Fenway Park remain as the elderly, iconic ball yards of the game.
With so many new ballparks, including Marlins Park which just opened for business this season, I thought this was a great time to review the 10 best ballparks in Major League Baseball.
The judging criteria that I have taken into account are: the fan experience when visiting, park atmosphere and energy, food and beverage quality, aesthetics, seat comfort, views from around the ballpark and natural beauty of the setting.
Ballparks come in all shapes and sizes and fan bias invariably creeps in.
Here is one man's objective opinion on the 10 best:
1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs) Chicago, Illinois: Wrigley Field opened in 1914 and has still not seen a World Series champion. That doesn't prevent fans from packing this historic treasure. This breathtaking, throwback is everything that baseball should be.
Wrigley Field is an indelible part of the Wrigleyville neighborhood on the north side of Chicago and is a trip back in time to the way baseball used to be (there is no "Jumbotron" in the ballpark). The old fashioned manual scoreboard in center field, the brick wall covered in ivy, afternoon baseball and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." An absolute must-see.
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2. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants) San Francisco, California: AT&T Park is the most beautiful setting for a ballpark in the majors. The awesome views of San Francisco Bay on a clear, sunny day are unparalleled. The tasteful design, featuring the oversized, old-fashioned baseball glove and McCovey Cove in right field are classic.
One of the best places in the park to take in the action is in right field in the Levi's Landing standing room area. This park has seen the 2006 World Series, as well as Barry Bonds' 756th home run, which broke Hank Aaron's record.
3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles) Baltimore, Maryland: This jewel in "Charm City" opened in 1992 when beloved Oriole Cal Ripken was still in the prime of his career. Ripken went on to surpass Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played streak at Oriole Park in 1995.
There is truly not a bad seat in the house at this must-visit on your baseball ballpark tour. From Boog's Barbecue, to the former B&O Warehouse building across the street in right field, Camden Yards is an amazing, retro backdrop for watching the grand old game.
4. Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees) New York, New York: It may never capture the history, tradition and "ghosts" of the original, but the new Yankee Stadium would make the great Babe Ruth blush. No expense was spared in building this 50,291 seat behemoth.
What is the best ballpark in Major League Baseball?
Yankees ownership made sure to include the frieze, which encircled the original Yankee Stadium when it opened in 1923. The park features a Yankees museum, its own steakhouse and Monument Park; brought over from across the street. This is modern baseball with a retro flair, and a futuristic price to enjoy the game. Tickets are quite expensive.
5. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: On the shores of the Allegheny River lies No. 5 on our list. PNC Park features large amounts of limestone in the facade of the building which adds a very nice aesthetic touch.
The dramatic views of the yellow, Roberto Clemente Bridge can be seen out of center field. Reasonably priced tickets, fantastic food and the skyline of this great city provide for one of the best viewing experiences in baseball.
6. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) Boston, Massachusetts: Currently the oldest ballpark in baseball, Fenway Park has seen several expansions over the past 15 seasons yet feels quite similar to the ballpark that opened 100 years ago in 1912. Fenway's signature icon, the Green Monster, looms in left field and now has seating atop it.
It's still quite an endeavor to squeeze into one of the narrow seats, particularly for those of wider girth. And seats are hard to come by. Yet Fenway Park has sold out over 745 times since 2003 and remains one of the best places in baseball to take in a game.
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7. Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) Seattle, Washington: In the Pacific Northwest, Mariners fans take their baseball quite seriously. Safeco Field's first season was in 1999, yet most people don't realize that the park almost never was.
Thanks to a great 1995 Seattle Mariners club that reached the ALCS, baseball fever in Seattle was at a fever pitch and the Washington state legislature approved public funding for the park. From this 47,860 seat classic, you can hear the trains passing on the BNSF railroad tracks in the distance while sampling some amazing sushi.
8. Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers) Los Angeles, California: It's amazing to think that Dodger Stadium opened its doors 50 years ago in 1962. At a cost of only $23 million, the yard built on Chavez Ravine has the largest seating capacity in baseball at 56,000.
Dodger fans have had the privilege of hearing legendary broadcaster Vin Scully's dulcet tones call the games here since its inception. The ballpark has seen four Dodgers world championship teams. Sit back, relax and gaze out at the palm trees, while you soak in the rays on a perfect summer day in southern California.
9. Target Field (Minnesota Twins) Minneapolis, Minnesota: Target Field just opened in 2010 and was built for a cost of $545 million. Target Field is a striking contrast to the indoor and deafeningly loud Metrodome.
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The park was built with very similar specifications to PNC Park and AT&T Park, which was a great idea. Grab a Jucy Lucy burger at The Town Ball Tavern for some good eats and enjoy this Midwestern jewel on a crisp night in late spring.
10. Petco Park (San Diego Padres) San Diego, California: Our third California park and newest sits in beautiful San Diego and has become known across baseball as a real pitcher's park. Nestled in the heart of the Gaslamp district, fans enjoy a perfect view of the San Diego skyline and the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse in left field.
"The Park at the Park" is a great grassy area that slopes above the outfield fence where fans can assemble to watch the game for a nominal cost.
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