The Ballparks

Posted by on Jun 18, 2008 in Baseball | 0 comments

The Ballparks

As every baseball fan knows, the ballpark is a big part of going to a baseball game. The view, the crowd, the food. It all plays a part in the live baseball experience. A great ballpark makes a good game even better, but a shitty ballpark makes what is usually a relatively boring game intolerable.

Here are the parks I’ve visited. Since park names change so often, they’re sorted by city name.

9.0

Ballpark in ArlingtonArlington, Texas

Summary
Has the novelty of being the first park to really impress me. Went there for the 1995 All-Star Game and fell in love with the openness, character, and brand-spanking-new feeling. After growing up with Olympic Stadium and the Astrodome, this park showed me how great a park could be.
Pros
  • Open, spacious.
  • Weather always seems to be sunny.
  • The concourse in centerfield with museums and shops accessible from the field makes the park more welcoming for fans.
  • Looks and feels new.
  • The angled fences and field asymmetry give the park character without overdoing it.
  • Pretty good selection of authentic Texan food.
Cons
  • Between Dallas and Ft. Worth, which kind of puts it in the middle of nowhere.
Dates Visited
  • 7/10/1995
    All-Star Home Run Derby
  • 7/11/1995
    All-Star Game
  • 7/4/1997
  • 9/30/1999
  • 7/31/2003
    an Alex Rodriguez, extra inning, walk-off grand slam made it one of the best games I’ve ever been to

6.5

Turner FieldAtlanta, Georgia

Summary
Pretty nice place, but nothing really stands out.
Pros
Cons
Dates Visited
  • 2001

8.0

Oriole Park at Camden YardsBaltimore, Maryland

Summary
First of the new nostalgic parks, and it’s a nice one.
Pros
  • The warehouse in right is nice.
  • Location in central Baltimore is superb.
  • Lots of restaurants and bars nearby.
  • I like using stairwells to get to the upper decks rather than a series of endless, alternating ramps.
Cons
  • Unfortunately, an idiotic, arrogant staff, just like every other ballpark I’ve been to.
Dates Visited
  • 2005
  • 9/30/2007

9.5

Fenway ParkBoston, Massachusetts

Summary
Cozy, scenic, unique, and full of history. Does it get any better?
Pros
  • Wonderful history. Do the stadium tour.
  • Great views of the game from almost anywhere.
  • Wonderful variety of seating.
  • Before the game, a lively neighborhood. Make a day of it.
Cons
  • Due to the old construction of the bleachers, a few obstructions in the stands.
  • Wish there was more going on after the game. The neighborhood clears out and shuts down pretty quickly.
Dates Visited
2011

3.0

Golden ParkColumbus, Georgia

Summary
Home of the A-ball Columbus RedStixx. Decent facility, nothing unique.
Pros
Cons
Dates Visited
2004

3.5

Astrodome/Reliant AstrodomeHouston, Texas

Summary
Where baseball goes to die. If anything, it was a welcome break from Houston’s ridiculous humidity.
Pros
  • The dappled ceiling was kind of cool. I always wanted to see someone hit one through the glass.
Cons
  • Smelled like a musty locker room.
  • Always seemed dark. I’d get depressed just walking to my seats.
Dates Visited
1986 – 1998

4.0

Enron Field/Minute Maid ParkHouston, Texas

Summary
A park which caught the tail end of the whole nostagia movement. An improvement over the Astrodome, but not by much.
Pros
  • Nice and open.
  • The asymetrical field is nice.
Cons
  • Most of the gimmicks, including the flagpole on a hill in centerfield and the train, are contrived and silly.
  • The food selection is limited, disgusting, and expensive.
  • Ridiculously short porch in left field.
Dates Visited
2001 – 2003

5.0

Dodger StadiumLos Angeles, California

Summary
Not bad, but I was expecting more from such a storied franchise.
Pros
  • Situated in a miniature valley, which is kind of cool. The rolling parking lot has some personality.
Cons
  • Pretty plain.
Dates Visited
8/1994

3.0

Olympic StadiumMontreal, Canada

Summary
Grew up watching baseball here. Skipped a day of school one year to catch the home opener. I didn’t realize how much it sucked until I went to nicer parks much later in life. All the empty seats made it worse.I have memories of roof being open, with sunlight streaming in and the ominous, strange-looking tower hanging over the field. That made the place tolerable. But then the roof broke and the place went to shit. Renovations and new team look in 1991 made it tolerable.

I remember going to last home game of the season one year and the paid attendance was 986. Felt like a practice.

Pros
  • The open roof, back in the day.
Cons
  • The plastic roof was disgusting.
  • Old, dark, dirty, and brown, just like the rest of Montreal.
Dates Visited
1982 – 2004

5.0

Shea StadiumNew York, New York

Summary
A bit plain, but seems like a fun place. Fans are into it, concourses are big and airy. The new stadium next door (Citi Field) looks pretty impressive.
Pros
  • Great that they’ve kept the home run apple for all these years.
Cons
  • Bleacher seating that looks like high-school grade construction.
  • Poor quality Jumbotron gives each player herpes around the mouth in their headshot.
  • Plain, generic food.
Dates Visited
9/14/2008
9/2011

4.0

Yankee Stadium IINew York, New York

Summary
For a city and team so rich in baseball history, this park was a tremendous disappointment. Yes, it’s a historical place, but do they capitalize on it? There are no scenic vistas from the outside, no memorabilia or even old photos inside, and Monument Park is closed an hour before gametime.
Pros
  • Steep seating gives you a unique view of the game.
Cons
  • No personality or sense of history.
  • Has that “trash bags lining the outfield walls” thing going on. I thought they stopped doing that in the 80’s. (Trash bags are gone as of 9/13/2008.)
  • Jumbotron has obviously not been upgraded since the 70’s.
  • Can’t take any kind of bag inside.
  • Food is that generic, expensive Aramark-type crap.
  • Narrow corridors and aisles not good for claustrophobes.
  • Nearly impossible to get a view of the stadium from the outside. It is nestled among rusty elevated train tracks and obnoxious souvenir stands.
  • I was scared for my life walking through the surrounding area (at night).
Dates Visited
9/2004
9/13/2008

4.5

Yankee Stadium IIINew York, New York

Summary
Basically a reconstruction of the old park, with a few modern touches.
Pros
Cons
Dates Visited
2011

9.5

Citizen’s Bank ParkPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania

Summary
Makes for a pretty good day trip from DC. As soon as we drove into the parking lot, I knew I liked it. From the outside, I could tell that it’s spacious and scenic. After going inside, I was blown away.
Pros
  • Open and spacious, like the Ballpark in Arlington.
  • Great views of the field and scoreboard (set back nicely from the seats) from every vantage point. Get up high enough, and you can see the sunset and the Philly skyline (partially obstructed by industrial wasteland).
  • Lots of character, including a fan concourse in centerfield and vaulted bullpens.
  • With the timeline and plaques in centerfield, this park seems to make more of an effort to connect with the history of the franchise more than other parks.
  • The games for kids actually look like fun.
  • Great acoustics. The announcer is crisp and clear, and you can actually hear clapping instead of a general roar.
  • Details like seats tilted towards home plate really put the icing on the cake.
  • Great signage, and the exits are well-marked. Hard to get lost.
  • Pretty good selection of food, although a bit heavy on the grease. Avoid the Schmitter and avoid the shitter.
  • Lots and lots of bathrooms!
Cons
  • In a crappy area. You have to drive through the slums of south Philly to get there.
  • Nothing in the immediate area to do after the game.
Dates Visited
6/17/2006

7.5

Busch StadiumSt. Louis, Missouri

Summary
Not a bad weekend trip. St. Louis is a small town, but most of the good stuff is in the city center, near the ballpark.
Pros
  • Right in the city center.
  • Feels and looks new (because it is).
  • Nice sunken field and airy concourses.
  • Affordable, quality concessions.
  • Remnants of the old park inside, nice statues outside.
  • You can see the Arch beyond the outfield.
Cons
  • Nothing particularly unique about it aside form it’s general coolness.
  • The area across the street, the old Busch Stadium, is a huge gravel pit. They should really do something with that.
Dates Visited
4/5/2008
4/6/2008

3.0

Sydney Baseball StadiumSydney, Australia

Summary
Went there for the 2000 Olympics. All of the basics, none of the frills.
Pros
Cons
Dates Visited
9/2000

6.5

SkyDome/Rogers CentreToronto, Canada

Summary
Don’t remember much aside from feeling like I was sitting about 5000 feet above the playing field.
Pros
  • With the impressive CN Tower next door, it’s a pretty cool place for a ballpark.
Cons
Dates Visited
ca. 1999

3.5

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial StadiumWashington, DC

Summary
Yay! Baseball is back in DC! Too bad the park sucks! A boring, symmetrical, cookie cutter, multi-purpose stadium.
Pros
  • Not far from the city center.
Cons
  • Part of the problem with multi-purpose stadiums is that they can’t feel like ballparks. That means that signage is generic and unhelpful when “third base entrance” would work just fine.
  • Aside from a slight swoop along the roof, this park has virtually no personality.
  • Interior corridors look like a prison.
  • No replays on the scoreboard. Lame.
  • You should be able to comfortably use cell phone at a baseball game, but the blaring speakers and roaring announcer made that impossible.
  • The “hospitality” staff is anything but. They look and act like they don’t give a shit about anything. After waiting in a slow-moving line under a posted menu for food, I was told (like I was an idiot) that they don’t serve food in that line and that I’d have to go wait in a different line. Signs did not indicate which line was for what.
  • Food is ridiculously overpriced and very average. $8.75 for a burger?
  • Crowd control on promotion days is ridiculous. Everyone cuts in a huge line before the huge line is split into three single-file lines separated by dividers. Then the dividers disappear and everyone runs into each other again, fighting to get their bobblehead before the person behind them.
Dates Visited
2005
6/16/2006

6.0

Nationals ParkWashington, DC

Summary
An improvement over RFK, but I’m still not sold on it.
Pros
  • Located in what looks to become a well-developed area.
  • Open concourses.
  • Nice scoreboard.
Cons
  • You can barely see any DC landmarks from inside the stadium. Come on.
  • The same disgusting concessions from RFK now cost more.
  • Poor use of the scoreboard.
  • No other “uniqueness” to it. Looks like just another new ballpark.
  • Unreasonable and annoying ushers. They must have brought them over from RFK, too.
Dates Visited
4/12/2008
2008 – 2012

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