McCovey Cove and MLB's 15 Greatest Stadium Surroundings
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All Major League Baseball stadiums have their own sets of appeal and charm—whether the history of Wrigley Field or the beauty of a new building like Target Field.
The debate as to what stadium is the greatest in the league is one that has raged on for many decades, and I would imagine that it will not be dying down any time soon.
What I wanted to do was to attack this argument from a different angle—taking the actual stadium itself out of the conversation.
This list will instead focus on some of the more awe-inspiring, historically significant, or simply well-known surroundings of the league’s ballparks.
There will be individual streets, natural and man-made entities, skylines, and other factors taken into account here, and all readers are encouraged to add other examples that they wish had been included.
I hope that you enjoy the slideshow, and let's now start counting down the Top 15:
Honorable Mention: The CN Tower at Rogers Center
Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/torontopaul/175068061/
A deserved honorable mention representative on the list, the CN Tower in Toronto is a breathtaking structure—both in its height and shape.
At 1815 feet tall, the tower was the tallest structure in the world at its completion in 1976.
It is still the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere at the time of this article.
15. The Comerica Park Tiger Statue (Baseball Ferris Wheel)
COurtesy of: http://www.30mlbparks.com/Photos%20-%20Comerica%20Park.htm
Though the stadium’s backdrop does not represent the most incredible of surroundings, the 15-foot-high tiger statue outside the stadium is an impressive sight to see.
Add in a creative baseball-themed Ferris wheel located just inside the stadium’s walls, and Comerica Park has some very unique surroundings to boast.
14. River Avenue at Yankee Stadium
Courtesy of: http://www.image-search-engine.com/yankee-game-6-18.html
The surrounding Bronx area is lacking the awe-inspiring sights of the stadium itself, but there is rarely a more rambunctious street in MLB than River Avenue after a big win.
The bars, shops, passionate fans and chants that continue to bustle after the final outs have been recorded are enough to get this famous Yankees staple onto the list—though the new stadium’s parking arrangements have taken away part of the “postgame stampede” that the old place sported.
13. Waveland Avenue at Wrigley Field
Courtesy of: http://www.beloblog.com/Pe_Blogs/prosports/2008/10/a-pictorial-tour-of-wrigley-fi.html
Waveland Avenue, a street outside of Wrigley Field that rests beyond the outfield seats, is most famous for being a landing spot for Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire home runs during the “Summer of 1998”.
In any big game or moment on the North side of Chicago, you will see fans standing with gloves ready to catch a piece of baseball history as it flies out of Wrigley and onto the street below.
12. The Gateway Arch at Busch Stadium
Courtesy of: Our own MLB writer Ray Tannock
The local area has unfortunately had to deal with tragedy over the last week, but the city of St. Louis will forever have plenty to offer baseball lifers.
The stunning views of the Gateway Arch beyond Busch Stadium’s outfield walls are enough to captivate anyone visiting the place for the first time—and I’ve never heard anyone complain about their experience in the city.
11. Capital Building, Navy Yard and Player Statues at Nationals Park
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Washington DC has as many famous and historical structures as any city in the United States, and Nationals Park uses this to its advantage on this list—while also generating some of their own memorable surroundings.
The Capital Building can be seen from many areas in and around the ballpark, and the nearby navy yard is another useful tourist attraction.
Nationals Park also presents very interesting “four-dimensional” statues of Josh Gibson, Walter Johnson, and Frank Howard that are unlike any others in Major League Baseball.
10. Mark Holtz Lake at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevenm_61/376311590/
Anyone who has visited Texas to take in a game has left impressed.
This is not only due to the close proximity of Dallas, the exciting atmosphere of the stadium, or even the never-say-die attitude of the club itself.
The surroundings of the ballpark play a major role in this as well, which includes the gorgeous Mark Holtz Lake—named for the former Rangers play-by-play announcer famous for his signature phrase “Hello win column.”
9. San Gabriel Mountains at Dodger Stadium
Courtesy of: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com
The jaw-dropping sightlines of the San Gabriel Mountains in the background of Dodger Stadium are enough in themselves to land these surroundings on the list.
The additional sights of the Elysian Hills and downtown Los Angeles help to rightfully push this ballpark all the way up to No. 8.
Los Angeles, the Dodgers, Vin Scully, timeless memories, and a long and successful history make it difficult for any SoCal kid not to grow up a “Trolley Dodger” at heart.
8. Yawkey Way at Fenway Park
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It is virtually impossible not to have Fenway Park on the list, and it is well-represented thanks to the legendary Yawkey Way just outside the ballpark’s historic walls.
Named for the Red Sox owner from 1933-1776 Tom Yawkey, the short road is lined with concessions and souvenirs on game day—always setting the stage for pregame fan activity and good times.
Boston is as passionate a city as there is in sports, and Yawkey Way is the "yellow brick road" to one of the league's oldest and most beloved buildings.
7. The Ohio River at the Great American Ballpark
Courtesy of: http://www.frontdoor.com
Much like the lake outside of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati borders the beautiful Ohio River—which helps create nighttime images like these from around the stadium.
Though not as striking as some other surrounding bodies of water around league-wide stadiums, the Ohio River is plenty impressive enough to land Great American Ballpark at No. 7 on the list.
6. B & O Warehouse and Inner Harbor at Camden Yards
Courtesy of: http://baltimorehudhomes.com
Anyone who has visited Camden Yards will tell you just how beautiful it is.
If imitation if truly the greatest form of flattery, the Orioles’ home has been used as a foundation for many of the new ballparks across the league due to its enviable confines.
The Inner Harbor itself is a great place to take in a summer night, and the B & O Warehouse is a unique backdrop to the building—once famously struck by a Ken Griffey Jr. moonshot in the 1993 Home Run Derby.
5. Roberto Clemente Bridge at PNC Park
Courtesy of: http://baseballguru.com/bbbp1.html
Sadly left hidden as Major League Baseball’s best kept secret, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is the most stunning stadium that no one has been to.
The Allegheny River creates a lovely backdrop for the park, and the Roberto Clemente Bridge is something that every baseball fan should have the privilege to walk across.
If only Pittsburgh (both the city and the franchise) would give baseball tourists more reason to stop by, they would be greeted with sights that they would never forget.
4. McCovey Cove at AT&T Park
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Thanks to Barry Bonds’ illustrious career at AT&T Park, baseball fans are as aware of McCovey cove as any stadium setting in Major League Baseball.
Most known for its fun-filled “splash downs” and kayak community racing for a free souvenir, McCovey Cove elevates the overall look of the Giants’ home to a whole new level.
There aren’t many better feelings in sports than trotting around the bases after a home run, but knowing that you just visited McCovey Cove makes it that much sweeter.
3. Rocky Mountains Sightline at Coors Field
Courtesy of: http://tickettothegame.com/blog/
There are not many natural landmarks in the United States that are more striking than the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and Coors Field should be grateful to have them as the background of its visual canvas.
Though fans may complain about their inability to catch their breath as they climb stairs in the thin air of the “Mile High City,” they’ll never speak negatively about the surroundings of this dazzling ballpark.
My personal bucket list includes a trip out west to take in a game in person at Coors, and it has more than earned a spot in this list’s top three.
2. The San Diego Skyline at Petco Park
Courtesy of: http://kaybee.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/04/i_san_diego.html
Few would argue that the city and beaches of San Diego, California are about as perfect a place to be in the continental United States.
A stadium that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and downtown San Diego has advantages that other places simply don’t have, and this picture tells the story of what you’ll experience with any trip out west.
In terms of its genuine beauty and near-perfect weather, it would be hard to place Petco Park’s surroundings anywhere but No. 1 on this list. There was, however, one place that I believe just beats it out.
1. Space Needle, Seattle Skyline and Puget Sound at Safeco Field
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Now we arrive at what I feel is the total package of stadium surroundings in baseball: Safeco Field in Seattle, Wa.
Already considered one of the—if not THE—best place to spend a road trip as a visiting player, fan, employee, etc., Safeco and its setting have plenty to offer visually.
The nearby Space Needle, the neighboring Puget Sound (known to produce many breathtaking sunsets), and the general Seattle skyline represent as solid a trio as one can hope to be delivered.
Every person will be looking for different things in the perfect ballpark backdrops, but in my eyes they’re all playing second fiddle to the proud home of the Seattle Mariners organization.