MLB Stadium Power Rankings 2012
And since the St. Louis Cardinals pulled off one of the most thrilling World Series victories in recent memory last October, a lot has changed.
Faces are in new places – Pujols in Hollywood, Reyes in South Beach, Bobby V in Beantown. The playoff system has undergone a few rule changes, most important of which is the addition of one more wild card team to each league.
But my favorite change this offseason has to be the transformation of Miami (née Florida) Marlins, part of which is the introduction of their fresh and flamboyant Marlins Park. The 37,000-seat stadium will be the third-smallest in the league and is a huge improvement upon their last "home," Sun Life Stadium (a.k.a. Joe Robbie, Pro Players, Dolphins, Land Shark, etc.). Some of the creative and exciting amenities featured at the new stadium include a fish tank in the backstop, a 420-foot deep cornered fence, nicknamed the “Bermuda Triangle”, and an extravagant and elaborate fixture in center field that will feature “jumping marlins” and “laser lights” whenever a Marlins player hits a home run.
Many baseball experts expect that the Marlins' new stadium – accomapnied with new players and a new manager – will help them turn a corner in the franchise and start anew, reaffirming the theory that a ball club's stadium is just as important to its success as its players.
So, in the spirit of the new season – and the new ballpark in South Beach – I chose to rank all 29 MLB stadiums, excluding Marlins Park, from worst to first. I based my rankings off of the stadium’s aura and history, its physical appearance, its fan appeal, and a little bit of my personal experience.
Let’s play ball!
29. Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay Rays
The smallest and the only permanently domed ballpark in MLB... FieldTurf?!... One World Series appearance, but also ten years of epic futility... Fans are loyal, but few.
28. O.co Coliseum – Oakland A’s
City: Oakland, CA; Opened: 1966; Capacity: 35,067
Could be expanded to nearly 50,000, but no one comes to games... A 1995 renovation made is better-suited for football... Very dark, hollow, depressing tone... At least it's outdoors.
27. Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays
City: Toronto, ON, Canada; Opened: 1989; Capacity: 49,260
Too big for its current fan base... Again, FieldTurf?!... Used to be very exciting back during the World Series years... Retractable roof is a big plus for day games.
26. U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago White Sox
City: Chicago, IL; Opened: 1991; Capacity: 40,615
Doesn't have the majesty of Wrigley nor the flair of its predecessor, Comiskey Park I... Only one World Series appearance, albeit a win... Top five in home runs per game every year since 2002.
City: Atlanta, GA; Opened: 1996; Capacity: 50,097
Hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics – cool, but not baseball... In comparison to its predecessor, it’s beautiful and comfortable... However, Turner is overall very blah.
24. Minute Maid Park – Houston Astros
City: Houston, TX; Opened: 2000; Capacity: 40,967
Unique elements – home run train, Tal’s Hill, the short distances down the lines – but it's too much... No World Series wins, but a few epic games, including 18-inning 2005 NLDS win... Too huge!
23. Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks
City: Phoenix, AZ; Opened: 1998; Capacity: 48,633
There’s a pool!... Home to arguably the greatest World Series game ever – Game 7 in 2001... Again, too huge!... Very symmetrical without many quirks.
The Struggling Freshmen
City: Cincinnati, OH; Opened: 2003; Capacity: 42,319
Beautiful views of Ohio River that Riverfront didn’t provide... Only one playoff game... Too similar to other ballparks of decade with less excitement... Steamboat smokestacks in right-center are clever and fun!
21. Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
City: Washington, DC; Opened: 2008; Capacity: 41,546
Much better than RFK... Fans aren’t filling seats... Team has not had winning season since moving from Montreal... Cherry blossoms in left-center are beautiful... Accessible by car, train, rail, bicycle and boat!
20. Citi Field – New York Mets
City: Flushing, NY; Opened: 2009; Capacity: 41,800
Very fan-friendly – 2K Sports Fan Fest, Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Shake Shack... Not hitter friendly – bottom 5 in HRs per game the past two years, but they're moving fences in... Pays great homage to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field... Too many ads, not enough Mets stuff!... Very expensive all around.
The Older Middle Class
City: Anaheim, CA; Opened: 1966; Capacity: 45,389
A poor man's Dodger Stadium... Angels are consistent playoff team... Rally Monkey!!!... Relatively cheap... Used to be “made for football”, but Disney renovations increased fan-friendliness.
18. Progressive Field – Cleveland Indians
City: Cleveland, OH; Opened: 1994; Capacity: 45,000
Second ballpark built in retro-modern style…Has a great atmosphere when packed with fans, like in the mid to late 1990s…Recently, low attendance makes ballpark less attractive…Watch out for the midges!
17. Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City Royals
City: Kansas City, MO; Opened: 1973; Capacity: 37,903
Recent renovation made big improvements – huge HD scoreboard, fountain view terraces... Will host All-Star Game this July... But Royals have been so bad for so long... Two World Series appearances including I-70 Series clinching win at home.
16. Coors Field – Colorado Rockies
City: Denver, CO; Opened: 1995; Capacity: 50,490
Home runs... More home runs... Too many home runs... The "Rockpile" bleacher seats offer unique, but distant, baseball experience... Somehow the third-oldest park in the National League... Just one World Series and three playoff appearances.
City: Los Angeles, CA; Opened: 1962; Capacity: 56,000
Only up this high because of its history – oldest West Coast ballpark, Sandy Koufax, Fernando Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, eight World Series appearances and four wins... Most seats of any stadium... Diminishing fan interest and turnout recently... Few renovations, but very classic.
The Younger Middle Class
14. Comerica Park – Detroit Tigers
City: Detroit, MI; Opened: 2000; Capacity: 41,255
Resembles classic ballpark, but is still very modern (see: Ferris wheel)... When opened, there were deep fences and an in-field flagpole, but due to public outcry, fences were moved in and flagpole was removed. Shame... Has hosted one World Series and one ALCS walk-off home run.
13. Safeco Field – Seattle Mariners
City: Seattle, WA; Opened: 1999; Capacity: 47,878
Unique retractable roof acts as an “umbrella” for fans in rainy Seattle instead of full climate control... Very modern... Attendance and club performance has been subpar in recent years.
12. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – Texas Rangers
City: Arlington, TX; Opened: 1994; Capacity: 49,170
After years of bottom-dwelling, Rangers have made the last two World Series... Interior and exterior design reflect Texan culture very well... Very hitter-friendly... Way too hot in the summer. August days average 94-degree high temperatures... Railings have proven to be unsafe and too short.
City: Milwaukee, WI; Opened: 2001; Capacity: 41,900
Retractable roof and natural grass!...Offers the ultimate “bang for your buck” experience... Great food... Very fan friendly – Sausage Race, Bernie Brewer... Majestic lighting during day games because of glass window panels, retractable roof.
10. Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia Phillies
City: Philadelphia, PA; Opened: 2004; Capacity: 43,651
Has sold out 204 straight games... Incredible fan base creates toxic atmosphere for visitors... Very hitter-friendly park... Has hosted one World Series champion team, two appearances, and five consecutive NL East Division championships... Interior design is very generic and resembles that of other ballparks from the last decade.
9. Target Field – Minnesota Twins
City: Minneapolis, MI; Opened: 2010; Capacity: 39,504
Huge improvement over the Metrodome... Unique ballpark design compared to retro-modern parks... Pretty cold in April and October... Bonfires, spruce trees, limestone walls, etc... Too soon to tell if Twins will find success with outdoor ballpark.
8. PETCO Park – San Diego Padres
City: San Diego, CA; Opened: 2004; Capacity: 42,691
Crafty and quirky... Used Western Metal Supply Co. building in construction of ballpark, is now filled with suites a restaurant, and the team store... "Park at the Park” offers a picnic ground for cheaper seats, and seamlessly blends into downtown... Extreme pitcher's park... Only two playoff appearances.
7. Busch Stadium – St. Louis Cardinals
City: St. Louis, MO; Opened: 2006; Capacity: 43,975
Great views of downtown St. Louis and the Arch... Already has hosted two World Series-winning teams, including the historic comeback in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series... Most loyal and supportive fans in the game... Simple design.
City: Bronx, NY; Opened: 2009; Capacity: 50,291
Proud of its history – the return of the "Frieze," short fences, manual scoreboards, bleachers, Great Hall... Combines the feel of the old and the renovated Stadiums... Already has that Yankee magic – they won the World Series in the first year of the Stadium’s first year... Very hitter-friendly... Many food, merchandise options... Incredibly expensive.
5. Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
City: Chicago, IL; Opened: 1914; Capacity: 41,159
The ivy... The bleachers... The scoreboard... The rooftop seats... The 7th Inning Stretch... Very old and few renovations have been done... So much history – Ruth’s Called Shot, Ernie Banks, the Billy Goat, Sammy Sosa... If only they could win a World Series!
4. Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
City: Boston, MA; Opened: 1912; Capacity: 37,493
The Green Monster... Pesky Pole... The Triangle... 1918... Ted Williams... Carlton Fisk... Bleepin’ Bucky Dent... The 2004 ALCS comeback against the hated Yankees... Just as much history as Wrigley, with a little more winning... Renovations have been appropriate, like with the Green Monster seats... Passionate fans... Old, but so venerable.
The Cream of the Crop
3. Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles
City: Baltimore, MD; Opened: 1992; Capacity: 45,363
The most important baseball stadium currently standing... The first of the modern retro and classic ballparks that took the game out of the cookie-cutter age... Celebrating 20th anniversary... Great view of Downtown Baltimore... Has some history including Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,131st game in 1995... Orioles have been below average for most years since 1992, with only two playoff appearances.. Hosted the third-most number of fans in MLB since 1992.
2. AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
City: San Francisco, CA; Opened: 2000; Capacity: 41,915
Any stadium located next to a body of water gets bonus points, but the McCovey Cove is as much a part of the stadium as the Coca-Cola bottle and the Glove... All of Barry Bonds’ big home runs have come at AT&T, including #71 in 2001 and #756 in 2006... The views are one-of-a-kind... Unique night atmosphere... There’s wireless internet!... Weather tends to be gloomy in San Francisco – but suck it up, this ballpark is worth it.
City: Pittsburgh, PA; Opened: 2001; Capacity: 38,362
What a shame that the nicest ballpark in the game is inhabited by the one of the losingest franchises in the game... If you thought the views at AT&T Park were great, the Pittsburgh skyline, accompanied with the strong yellow Roberto Clemente Bridge, offers an even more striking image... Prices are incredibly cheap... Seating is comfortable and the sightlines are flawless... Small, quaint, and beautiful, PNC Park is a winner in every way, except for the team that plays there!
There you have it – all 29 active stadiums in the league! Did I get it right? Did I rank your team’s stadium a tad too low for your liking? Where do you think Marlins Park will rank in years to come? Let me know.
Oh, and Happy Opening Day to all!