2011 MLB Playoffs: Ranking the Stadiums of Remaining Playoff Teams
An important part of the baseball fan's experience is how much they enjoy the stadium where they are taking in a game. Concession options, comfortable seating with excellent sight lines, technology and other aspects of a stadium impact how a fan feels about the field they are visiting.
The teams left in the 2011 MLB playoffs have some quality ballparks that combine modern comforts with respect to their clubs' histories. There is one in particular that has a lot of bells and whistles without being obnoxious about it, while another park is noted for its friendliness to visiting fans and players.
To compile this list, I researched information about each park such as average ticket prices, parking options and amenities available to fans. I also looked up the average attendance at each stadium in 2011 using ESPN's MLB attendance rankings.
These rankings are entirely subjective, so let me know if you think I may have missed the mark somewhere.
4. Rangers Ballpark: Arlington, Tex. (Texas Rangers)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Tex. is home to the Texas Rangers and opened in April 1994. It has a capacity of 49,170, which includes 5,704 club seats and 126 luxury boxes.
The field is divided into three seating tiers: lower level, club level and upper deck. Tickets range from $7 for grandstand seats up to $375 for home plate seats.
Inside, the ballpark holds a four-story office complex and the Rangers Hall of Fame, which includes a 225-seat auditorium. Nearby, there is a youth baseball park for little league teams and recreation space. The Center Field Sports Park is a fan area with interactive games that can be played by purchasing tokens throughout the park, as well as temporary tattoos.
Concession options include 75 stands on three concourses, with lower and upper level picnic areas in the shade of the ballpark. The Rangers also offer all-you-can-eat seats in the upper level at the Home Run Porch Grill.
In 2011, the Rangers' average attendance was 10th in MLB with 36,382 fans per home game. This averaged out to a 74 percent capacity and was up from 2010, when the team averaged 30,928 fans per game at 63 percent capacity.
3. Comerica Park: Detroit, Mich. (Detroit Tigers)
Opened in 2000, Comerica Park currently has a capacity of 41,255, which increased from its original capacity of 40,120.
Comerica Park, which replaced historic Tiger Stadium, has a Ferris wheel for kids with 12 cars shaped like baseball and a carousel where fans ride tigers instead of horses. Throughout the stadium, there are tiger statues whose eyes light up when the Tigers score a home run or win a game, and a roar plays over the PA system.
Concession options include the Big Cat Food Court on the stadium's lower level and a Beer Hall, which features local and international brews on tap.
The Tigers did a good job of incorporating team history into the 11-year-old field. The Walk of Fame goes around the lower level and is a display featuring team artifacts and photos, with a decade bat marking each era of baseball in Detroit.
The field has 3,039 club seats and 102 luxury suites. In 2011, average attendance was 32,617, a 79.1 percent capacity. This was up from 2010, when the Tigers were 15th in MLB with a 30,385 average attendance for 75.7 percent capacity.
The average ticket price for the 2011 season was $27.50, and parking options cost $5 to $25 depending on what lot fans parked in.
2. Busch Stadium: St. Louis, Mo. (St. Louis Cardinals)
Busch Stadium is known for being one of the friendliest places for visiting fans. Not only that, the home fans have also been known to applaud strong performances by the opposition.
Opening in 2006 and replacing Busch Memorial Stadium, the current field holds 43,975 fans. Another bonus is that the field does not cater to the corporate fan as much, as there are 3,706 club seats with 61 luxury suites.
When buying tickets, fans have the option to add parking to their purchase. Parking passes include rainout insurance, so if a game gets rained out, the fan can use their parking pass from the rainout to get into the makeup game. It is also transferable, so if someone sells their seats, they can give the parking pass to the person who buys the tickets.
The stadium features a Make-Your-Own-Mascot store, which is similar to Build-a-Bear. Fans can make their own stuffed animal of Frebird, the Cardinals' mascot. A statue garden celebrates some of the great players in Cardinals history.
Concession options include Mexican food such as quesadillas, tacos and burritos as well as St. Louis seasoned fries.
Busch Stadium is easy to access via public transportation. The MetroLink light rail has a stop at the stadium, and out of town fans can get into St. Louis through the Amtrak Chicago station.
The Cardinals' home field does not have as many bells and whistles as other modern stadiums, which brings positive reviews from home and visiting fans alike.
1. Miller Park: Milwaukee, Wis. (Milwaukee Brewers)
Miller Park in Milwaukee is one of the most affordable parks in baseball. Parking is just $8 or $13 depending on which lot fans choose, while tickets range from just $8 to $50, or $15 to $80 for prime games.
The stadium also features fun traditions in the sixth-inning sausage race and the seventh-inning stretch, where fans sing "Roll out the Barrel" in addition to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." After each home run, the Brewers' mascot, Bernie Brewer, comes out of his clubhouse to take a splash in the Kalahari Splash Zone area, and an explosion of water shoots in the air.
Miller Park is also easy to access. In addition to driving and parking options, fans can also get to the field via one of three bus routes on the Milwaukee County Transit system or bike or walk using the Hank Aaron State Trail. The trail is connected to the field and the Lake Michigan lakefront. The field offers bike racks for those who choose to come to the game this way.
Baseball history is alive and well in this stadium. A plaque commemorates Hank Aaron's 755th home run, and historical displays include tributes to Latinos in baseball and Negro Leagues players. The Wall of Honor recognizes the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and Wisconsin natives who have played in MLB.
Concession options include a coffee shop, deli, beer garden and racing sausage kebabs. Bernie's Clubhouse Playground includes a concession stand with kids items.
In the U.S. Cellular Bullpen, fans can take part in baseball themed activities and pose for photos with a Brewers players cut-out.
Miller Park tops this list for having activities for fans without taking the focus away from the game, and also for its celebration of the general baseball culture.
Alison Myers is covering the 2011 MLB Playoffs for Bleacher Report and is also an NHL Featured Columnist. You may e-mail her with questions, comments or writing opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org or request a follow on Twitter.