Stadium Journey's Best Baseball Stadium: 2009 Edition

Paul Swaney@@PaulSwaneySenior Analyst INovember 4, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 25:  The sun sets over the stadium as the Colorado Rockies host the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on September 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Cardinals 2-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In the first of what we hope will be an annual tradition, Stadium Journey is happy to announce its rankings for the best baseball stadium of 2009. Rankings are based on the FANFARE scoring system that takes into account Food & Beverage, Atmosphere, Neighborhood, Fans, Access, and REturn on investment. Click on the name of each stadium to see the full review.

One quick disclaimer about the list: We did not rate the Metrodome since it was to be out of commission by the time we completed our rankings, so Twins fans will have to wait for the 2010 edition when we can include the new Target Field.

So here are the rankings from worst to first, of MLB stadiums, 2009.

29. Florida Marlins, Land Shark Stadium

FANFARE Score: 14

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

What We Liked: Access—“Here’s the good news, parking is plentiful and there is never a line for the bathroom."

What We Didn’t Like: The neighborhood—“The closest place to go would be a Wal-Mart with a McDonald's inside, and that’s about a mile away.”

Land Shark Stadium

Land Shark Stadium

28. Washington Nationals, Nationals Park

FANFARE Score: 17

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“The variety of food is impressive. It ranges from great local legends such as Five Guys (best burger you’ll ever have outside of a sit down restaurant, and better than most of those as well, fries are as addictive as heroin), Ben’s Chili Bowl, home of the legendary half-smoke sausage (think about the best kielbasa you ever had, only a hundred times better), and the Hard Times Café, to your traditional ballpark fare.”

What We Didn’t Like: The neighborhood—“Bad, unless you are fascinated by the D.C. water and sewer headquarters, or by the U. S. Department of Transportation, in which case you are definitely in luck!”

27. Oakland Athletics, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

FANFARE Score: 19

What We Liked: Fans—“As with any small market team, fans tend to be tolerant, patient, knowledgeable and passionate about their players.”

What We Didn’t Like: The neighborhood—“The Coliseum is in the middle of a heavily industrial area, replete with a filthy canal.”

26. Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Centre

FANFARE Score: 22

What We Liked: Food—“Rogers Centre has updated their concessions to include very unique items such as corned-beef sandwiches, chicken wings, and even sushi. The quality of food is vast and the prices are reasonable.”

What We Didn’t Like: Fans—“At times, it’s frustrating to watch fans more focused on when they should stand up so they can catch 'the wave' or when they are cheering loudly to win a piece of pizza rather than cheer on the home team itself.”

Rogers Centre Exterior

Rogers Centre Exterior

22(t). Los Angeles Angels, Angel Stadium

FANFARE Score: 24

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“There are five different BBQ options at various points around the stadium. Chicken, ribs, sausage and hot dogs are among the options.”

What We Didn’t Like: Fans.

22(t). New York Mets, Citi Field

FANFARE Score: 24

What We Liked: Fans—“New York Mets fans are very passionate and knowledgeable about the game and many keep score and follow programs to track the players and the action on the field.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“There are many auto body shops and oriental food markets in the immediate vicinity of the stadium.”

22(t). Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium

FANFARE Score: 24

What We Liked: Return on Investment—“The Kansas City Royals have some of the most reasonable ticket prices;.They also run several family and group promotions while boasting frequent 'Buck Nights' which includes dollar hot dogs, peanuts and sodas. 'T-shirt Tuesday' leads the promotion wave, but recent surges in bobble-head and jersey giveaways have generated much attention and attendance.”

What We Didn’t Like: The neighborhood—“Don’t look for anything to do after the game in the area of the Truman Sports Complex.”

22(t). Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park

FANFARE Score: 24

What We Liked: Fans—“During games, Brewers fans have a good sense of staying in their seats during game action (at least more so than most), and don’t need the mechanical prodding of a scoreboard to tell them when to cheer.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“Miller Park is located about two miles from downtown Milwaukee. So while it probably isn’t considered walking distance for the average fan, it’s a close enough place to hang out before a game.”

21. Chicago White Sox, U.S. Cellular Field

FANFARE Score: 25

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“This is a great park to sit and watch a game. It’s also a great park if all you want to do is stroll around the concourse.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“U.S. Cellular is not surrounded by many options, leading to more tailgating than many parks.”

U.S. Cellular Field's Scoreboard

U.S. Cellular Field's Scoreboard

19(t). San Diego Padres, Petco Park

FANFARE Score: 26

What We Liked: Access—“San Diego’s city design, renowned public transportation system, large parking structures around the stadium and police involvement before and after the game to re-route traffic make getting to Petco Park a cinch.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Atmosphere—“Visitors to Petco Park will be somewhat shocked that the people around them might not always be root, root, rooting for the home team. Southern California fans are notoriously bland, and Petco Park’s uber family-friendly confines make it so that even the rowdiest are forcibly muted amidst the apathy and onlooking kindergarteners.”

19(t). Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field

FANFARE Score: 26

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“There are plenty of unique items around the ballpark, including garlic fries and shish-ka-berries, most notably.”

What We Didn’t Like: Fans—“The family-friendly environment that has been carved out is great if you’re over 50 or under 12, but can be a little frosty if you’re between those ages and/or you like alcohol.”

19(t). Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field

FANFARE Score: 26

What We Liked: Access—“Parking in the area is a breeze. There are a large number of lots around the stadium which have plenty of available spaces and are relatively easy to enter and exit. If you’re willing to endure a bit of a walk, you can park for $5, and even the lots immediately around Progressive Field usually cost no more than $10.”

What We Didn’t Like: Food & Beverage—“Progressive Field carries a standard selection of all the traditional fare you would expect to find at a ballpark, plus a few items not found at every sports venue.”

16(t). Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field

FANFARE Score: 27

What We Liked: The Neighborhood—“Along the walk, you’ll not only find a history lesson, but a plethora of bars and restaurants that are worth a stop for a quick bite or drink. “

What We Didn’t Like: Fans—“One of the saddest things is when a fan-base abandons its team in the bad times (see the Pirates attendance). Even more depressing is when that fan-base fails to turn out when the times are good, and it’s easy to be a fan.”

16(t). Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium

FANFARE Score: 27

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“There have been eight World Series held in Dodger Stadium: 1963, 1966, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1988, with the Dodgers winning four times.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood

Dodger Stadium from Third Baseline

Dodger Stadium from Third Baseline

16(t). Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park

FANFARE Score: 27

What We Liked: The Fans—“It was a pleasant surprise to see that the fans were very knowledgeable and passionate for their team.”

What We Didn’t Like: Food & Beverage—“If you are going to eat, make sure you do it before you come to the game.”

13(t). Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field

FANFARE Score: 28

What We Liked: Return on Investment—“Chase Field offers some of the most affordable tickets in all of baseball. The Diamondbacks are nearly always among the lowest prices in MLB. There are value items available at concession stands and in the team shop to make it affordable to every fan.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Fans—“Most of the fans are transplants from other areas and there are times when they do not seem to know when to cheer.”

13(t). St. Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium

FANFARE Score: 28

What We Liked: The Fans—“The passion and knowledge displayed by fans of the Cardinals are the main reasons why St. Louis is considered by some to be the best baseball city in America.”

What We Didn’t Like: Atmosphere—“This version of Busch Stadium certainly is a fun place to watch a game, but it can’t be said to be much different than any of the other throwback ballparks that have entered the league recently.”

11(t). Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park

FANFARE Score: 29

What We Liked: The Fans—“There was even a guy with his face painted. In the third deck. At a BASEBALL game. Who paints their face for a baseball game?”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“Here’s the thing. There really is no neighborhood, per se.”

A Full House at Citizen's Bank Park

A Full House at Citizen's Bank Park

11(t). Detroit Tigers, Comerica Park

FANFARE Score: 29

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“A Ferris wheel, carousel, and massive center field water fountain are a few other structures that set Comerica Park apart from others.”

What We Didn’t Like: Food & Beverage—“Unless you’re seated in the infield, food and snack vendors appear sporadically.”

10. Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park

FANFARE Score: 29.5

What We Liked: The Neighborhood—“The area around Fenway is home to a multitude of bars and restaurants that provide endless entertainment both before and after the game. Whether you’re looking for a simple beer before entering the gates, a full-fledged meal, or music and dancing into the wee hours, you can find it within walking distance from the park.”

What We Didn’t Like: Access—“Driving to Fenway is really inadvisable. Parking is $30-40-plus and you will spend a significant amount of time waiting to get out of your car. You will spend even more time in your car as you try to leave the vicinity.”

6(t). Colorado Rockies, Coors Field

FANFARE Score: 30

What We Liked: The Neighborhood—“It doesn’t get better than than LoDo. There are tons of bars and restaurants all around the park. Many restaurants double as microbreweries, brewing their own specialty beers.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Fans—“Despite owning nearly every record for attendance, Rockies fans are the epitome of bandwagon. When the Rockies are playing well, people show up, when they are not doing well, forget about it.”

6(t). Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park

FANFARE Score: 30

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“There is perhaps no better value than the absolutely delicious sandwiches that can be found at the Primanti Bros. stands at PNC Park. I tried the roast beef loaded with cheese, slaw, and fries right on the sandwich, and was about as happy as could be.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Fans—“…the fact that the team averaged fewer than 20,000 fans in 2009 is a real tragedy.

6(t). New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium

FANFARE Score: 30

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“While this isn’t "The House that Ruth Built” the field looks exactly the same as the old stadium, which makes you feel like you are still at the stadium across the street.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“Unlike many of the other stadiums that are located in major cities, Yankee Stadium is not exactly in a built up area.”

6(t). Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field

FANFARE Score: 30

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“The history engulfs you immediately when you enter Wrigley. Although this stadium has never seen a World Series victory, it is the home to many legends and tales. From Babe Ruth’s called shot, to a goat named Murphy, to the Steve Bartman incident from the 2003 NLCS, this venue has seen its share of memorable events.”

What We Didn’t Like: Food & Beverage—“In a city rich with culinary delights, Wrigley Field fails to deliver, especially on Chicago classics that one may expect.”

Wrigley Field Scoreboard

Wrigley Field Scoreboard

4(t). Cincinnati Reds, Great American Ball Park

FANFARE Score: 31

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“For the true Cincinnati experience, be sure to visit the Montgomery Inn for some pulled pork or chicken. There are three Skyline Chili locations for Cincinnati’s own Skyline Cheese Coney.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“The area between Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, is prime real estate and ideal for development. However, a seemingly endless political battle has caused the former home of Riverfront Stadium to remain a construction site.”

4(t). San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park

FANFARE Score: 31

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“There is a dizzying array of food—everything from garlic fries to crab sandwiches to standard ballpark franks and even a selection of California.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Fans

Willie Mays Statue

Willie Mays Statue

2(t). Texas Rangers, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

FANFARE Score: 32

What We Liked: Return on Investment—“Rangers tickets are among the most cost effective in baseball. Good seats are available for as little as $25 and the nose-bleed sections are closer to the action than most stadiums. Win or lose, Rangers fans always have a good time at the ballpark.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“The current neighborhood around Rangers Ballpark is the only disappointment at the moment. There are a few options for before and after the game, but not a lot of them.”

2(t). Atlanta Braves, Turner Field

FANFARE Score: 32

What We Liked: Atmosphere—“The Braves organization is the longest continuously running franchise in baseball history and you can feel the history when you walk into the stadium.”

What We Didn’t Like: The Neighborhood—“There is not much around the stadium as far as food goes.”

1. Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

FANFARE Score: 33

What We Liked: Food & Beverage—“If you try nothing else, please get some Boog’s. It’s so good, it’ll make you slap your mama.”

What We Didn’t Like: Nothing, that’s why it’s the best!

This article originally published on Stadium Journey

Paul Swaney is the co-founder of www.stadiumjourney.com


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.