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MLB parks and stadiums ... ranking 'em, reviewing 'em, etc. (1 Viewer)

  • What year, where did you sit?
    I was there twice in the mid 90's.  First time I sat in RF bleachers, second behind home but in the upper deck.  I felt like the amenities of the place were nice but it was like they designed the stadium around the luxury boxes and that every other seat was as far away as they could humanly make it if you weren't in the luxury boxes. The Boxes were like three levels high making the upper deck much higher than it needed to be. Both times I felt like I was watching the game from Indiana. 
21. Minute Maid Park, Houston

Opened: 2000


If you go to enough major league games over the course of a lifetime, you hope to be lucky enough to witness a little piece of history. Maybe a no-hitter or perfect game, some sort of MLB record, or even a clinching victory for a pennant or the World Series.

For me, so far, one the biggest highlights in all of my years of touring Major League Baseball is being at Minute Maid the night Craig Biggio got his 3,000th career hit. Barely.

Certainly we didn’t plan our annual trip that way, but as the days went on and Biggio crept closer to the milestone, it at least seemed like a possibility. Then Astros manager Phil Garner did us a solid, sitting Biggio for two games in Milwaukee before they headed home to Houston, with him sitting three away from the milestone.

Still, there was no guarantee we would get to see it in either of the two games we were scheduled to attend – Thursday and Saturday. And that was before the “travel day from hell.”

Long story short: A group of us got to JFK with little trouble before eventually finding out our original flight was cancelled because of weather elsewhere. I also lost my cell phone in the process. Eventually we got booked onto flights to Austin, where we changed to a Southwest flight and braved a thunderstorm for the short trek down to Houston. I am glad I thought to grab my camera and put it in my carry-on, because none of our luggage arrived until the next day.

By the time we finally pulled everyone together and got to the ballpark, the game against the Rockies was in the fourth inning. Biggio had grounded out in the first, then singled to center in the third. Another infield hit in the fifth, and we could almost put our long day in the rearview mirror with history in sight.

Finally, with two out in the seventh and the Astros down 1-0, Biggio stepped in against the Rockies’ Aaron Cook with a runner on second. I was snapping as many photos as my camera would allow, and finally on a 2-0 count, Biggio lined a single to center to tie the game. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double, but that became irrelevant as the stadium broke into bedlam. I snapped more than 300 photos over the next 10 minutes from our seats down the left field line – the walkup, the hit itself, the slide into second. Then a giant banner unfurled in left field, tributes on the video board. Biggio saluting the crowd, and greeted on the field by fellow future Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.

He would end the night with two more hits, including another single that started a two-out rally in the bottom of the 11th that concluded with a Carlos Lee walkoff grand slam and an amazing Astros victory.

I never left my seat from the moment of our late arrival. Quite an unusual occurrence for me when seeing a ballpark for the first time.

So it was that I didn’t actually get a chance to walk around and check out the ballpark until our second game two nights later, when we sat out in right-center field. And Thursday had been such a blur that I don’t even remember how we got to the ballpark, probably a cab from the hotel. At least this time we were able to brave the summer heat – a perfectly valid reason for Houston to have a retractable roof park – and walk the few blocks to Minute Maid.

I don’t remember anything particularly interesting in the immediate neighborhood surrounding the park, which is disappointing given its downtown location. And from the outside I’m not sure you would even realize you were looking at a ballpark. Nice architecture, but just no feel to it.

There were quite a few neat features inside, however. I like the Crawford Boxes in left field, and even the train engine with the load of oranges that “choo choos” across whenever the Astros hit a home run – apparently an homage to the fact the park is built on the site of an old train station. (Although seeing the Carlos Lee fan club – “Los Cabalittos” – hopping around on their stick horses after his grand slam was even more amusing.) The gas pump somewhere on the outfield concourse that counts all of the home runs the Astros ever have hit there.

I even thought “Tal’s Hill” – which finally was removed before this season – was a neat quirk, considering I once played softball on a field where I had to run up a slope in right field to track down fly balls to the fence. But I can see why major league outfielders would have thought it was a nuisance, if not a major injury hazard.

Of course, the big downer is that we never got to see the place with the roof open. It’s tough to ignore how monstrous the structure is in right field, which is command central for the roof, the scoreboard, and a fair chunk of seats. But even more striking it how little there really is beyond left and center. Like I said, the Crawford Boxes, the train, the huge windows that do give you a glimpse of the outside world. I have a feeling it is really neat when the roof is open, the retractable windows are pulled back and half the outfield is open to the elements. It kind of feels like a modern version of Fenway’s Green Monster, with only a handful of seats but much closer to the action.

At least it’s a big step up from the Astrodome somewhere across town. Give that old concrete place kudos for at least showing the way that baseball could be played indoors, and give places like Minute Maid even more credit for doing whatever they can to make for a more authentic baseball experience. But with retractable roof ballparks and hot-weather cities, sadly, there is only so much you can do.

  • I was there twice in the mid 90's.  First time I sat in RF bleachers, second behind home but in the upper deck.  I felt like the amenities of the place were nice but it was like they designed the stadium around the luxury boxes and that every other seat was as far away as they could humanly make it if you weren't in the luxury boxes. The Boxes were like three levels high making the upper deck much higher than it needed to be. Both times I felt like I was watching the game from Indiana. 
Totally agree.  I wanted the cheapest ticket I could and I got one at the top behind home plate.  I spent most of the game petrified that one of the beer vendors was about to tumble down the steps to his death.

I grew up 4 miles from County Stadium and still have family in Milwaukee.  I've been to Miller Park 4 or 5 times, once in the upper deck and the rest on the 200 level.  The roof has been open on every visit.  I still think it should have been built downtown but I understand the dynamics that determined its location.

Since it has the same parking lot as County Stadium, the atmosphere outside the park is very similar.  Inside the gates seems kind of generic to me.  The sightlines are good although the time I was in the upper deck, I remember the section was pretty steep.

The dome forces some architectural compromises.  The old park overlooked a parking lot and the Harnischfeger factory so it's not like there's much in the way of panoramic vistas but those are further obstructed at Miller Park by the supporting ring for the dome and a glass paneled wall.  This also seems to affect the acoustics but I can't put my finger on it.

The brats are good and everybody seems to be having a good time, especially if the team is winning.  But the park is nothing special.
Can pretty much echo this and what Dickie said, though I've been there nearly 100 times. It's a party where a baseball game happens to break out, especially with nice weather. The roof kicks ### in April and May but if a thunderstorm rolls through July/August I can turn into a hot box. Either way, no rainouts is nice.

Say what you will about fandom but many people make up their season ticket fees back by selling their Cubs series tickets. Sure it sucks when the unwashed masses come rolling in and essentially take over, but hey they pay a lot of money. I would recommend coming in for some other series to get a more "Milwaukee" experience.

Bought some "great" seats a few rows behind first base for a Cardinal- Astros game at Minute Maid in Houston - spent first 3-4 innings staring into a giant sun coming through the glass window, Not the best seats if you happen to go to a game there.

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Let's see.

Oakland's stadium is a total dump.  It looks like its built with a construction site permanently surrounding it.  No bars or anything.  You take the BART.  You get off.  You cross the street and then walk this massive foot bridge over some dumpy looking site.  Then you get there and its just some concrete edifice.  I last was there a few weeks ago.  I will give them credit for a playground area with some pretty creative games that would probably be really fun if I was a kid.  Bean bag toss, ping pong tables, etc.  That area is surrounded by some pedestrian food carts.  Good views from the seats.  Easily can see both scoreboards.  But wow is it a terrible place.  But hey, its Oakland.

At&T Park in San Francisco.  Wow.  I can't think of any place better.  Its right smack downtown. You walk right up off the street and are inside in seconds.  Can take a trolley in.  Just gorgeous to look at.  Plenty of brick facing and done very very well.  But hey, its San Francisco.  The entire city is beautiful.   The only negative is the sight lines aren't perfect.  You can't see the entire park from several different seating sections.  The scoreboard can be completely blocked.  But its not a problem.

Dodgers Stadium.  A shine to baseball basically.  The park itself is pretty good.  The problem is that its very isolated.  You don't just walk up off the street.  Its in that ravine surrounded by a massive parking lot.  Usually traffic is snarled trying to get in.  But hey, its Los Angeles, gotta have bad traffic.  Best bet is to uber and they will drop you off close by.  It gets incredibly hot too.  Avoid right field.

Petco Park.  Good location near the Gsalamp district.  Bars within walking distance.  Its a little too...concrete though.  For some reason it invokes memories of Oakland's park.  Feels almost more functional than really exotic.  

1. SF, 2. SD, 3. LA. 4. Oakland

20. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago

Opened: 1991


When I started this project earlier this summer, I guaranteed (ha!) that I would at some point make a statement that probably wouldn’t be shared by many, and certainly would have some ballpark(s) ranked higher than popular opinion.

Now that I’m ready to get back in the rhythm, I feel like now is as good a time as any. Here goes …

I think the home of the White Sox gets a bad rap. It certainly was better than I expected when I saw my lone game there back in 2000.

Check out any number of ballpark rankings lists that are available on the Internet and you can usually find the place on the South Side somewhere in the high 20s, amongst the Oaklands, Torontos and Tampa Bays of the world of hideousness. And yes, I get it when people criticize the fact that the White Sox whiffed by just missing out on the beginning of the HOK, retro-park era.

My feeling is that there are two things at play here: 1.) “new Comiskey” gets (unfairly) compared with the historic old ballpark that sits on the northern side of the city; and 2.) “new Comiskey” gets (unfairly) compared with the historic old ballpark that sat right next door, until “old Comiskey” was knocked down to make way for progress.

Again, valid. But that doesn’t make Guaranteed Rate Field a bad place. At least in my opinion.

For our trip, we had the opportunity to catch the White Sox for a Thursday afternoon “getaway day” game with games at Wrigley on the slate for the next two days. I don’t remember the trip into town being a particular whirlwind, even though we landed sometime mid-morning and must have hustled in cabs to our downtown hotel, dumped our luggage and hopped on the El. After all, when Rocky Biddle is making his major league debut on the mound, you have to be there.

Certainly another downside of “new Comiskey” is the lack of anything in the surrounding area, other than the Dan Ryan Expressway. So the walk to and from the train platform to the stadium was pretty blah.

But once inside, I have to say I was surprisingly impressed. And this had to have been during the time when the ballpark went with its curious “blue” color scheme as opposed to the darker green seats and black iron work that seems to have given the place quite a facelift in recent years.

One of the first things I noticed, which will heavily infiltrate the ratings of some of my favorite parks, was the ability to comfortably walk all the way around the park. It’s a concept that a ballpark like Camden Yards, for all its praise, didn’t accomplish, so that’s a big plus here. For an afternoon game on a nice August day, I remember a good atmosphere of fans hanging around on the wide outfield concourse. I wish I had ducked my head into the Bullpen Bar, though I know a few of my friends did. Instead, I headed for the White Sox Hall of Fame area and team store behind home plate, where I landed my sweet “Black Sox” era button-down jersey.

Of course, if I’m talking about walking around the lower concourse, you must be thinking one thing: “You didn’t have tickets in the upper deck.” True, I remember we were on the club level, and reading about how upper decks fans aren’t allowed into the lower concourse makes me cringe. (Something similar causes me to significant lower my ranking of a pretty well-regarded ballpark that will be a few spots up from here.) If I’m going to a park for the first time, I certainly want to wander around and check out as much as I can. Most teams and ballparks, past and present, get this. Shame on the White Sox if they still don’t.

Beyond that, there isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the park. Having not ventured into the upper deck, I can’t attest for how high and steep it really is, other than what I’ve read. Bill Veeck’s “exploding scoreboard” is a neat feature that was brought over from the old place. I’m torn on the steel girder design that holds up the advertising signs around most of the outfield, but I guess there really isn’t much view to obscure anyway.

In the end, I have to agree that it certainly is no Wrigley Field, which (spoiler!) won’t be appearing in my rankings any time soon. And I wish I had a chance to see the old place. But for a nice summer afternoon at the ballpark, it was just fine.

(And for those of you wondering: Rocky Biddle gave up six unearned runs in 5.1 innings to kick off a memorable five-year career in which he finished 20-30.)

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I'm trying to see the Rockies in every park, so I need to pick off AL parks when I can.  So far, in no particular order, with a few comments if warranted:

Old stadiums:  Tiger Stadium, Candlestick Park-  didn't see the Rockies at either of these- the rest I have

Coors Field- always wonderful.  The new Rooftop bar area in right field is fantastic.  Great view of the field and mountains from same vantage point.  Otherwise, sit on 3rd base line June-August to avoid brutal sun.

Great American Ballpark- it was fine

Comerica Park- don't recall much, except I loved the downtown location and the idea of trying to revitalize that part of Detroit

new Yankees Stadium- some of the friendliest stadium personnel I've ever encountered as a visiting fan

Fenway in 2016- what a treat

Wrigley- as advertised,  Simply wonderful.

Citizens Bank Park- too far from downtown

Turner Field- as someone posted above, awful

PNC Park- I love Pittsburgh in general, and this stadium is a gem. 

Camden Yards- loved it, especially plaques in right field concourse of balls hit there

Progressive Field- nothing memorable

Safeco Field- cool to see the roof close when it started raining, otherwise I wasn't overly impressed

At&T Park- love it, even though the Giants play there

Oakland-Alameda County stadium (O.co?) - deserted.  Enjoyed watching some seagulls try to steal some fans' food.

Petco Park- love, love, love this park.

Happy to give more info about Coors Field to anyone interested.


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