My ballpark journey: Rating the 30 major league stadiums - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

My ballpark journey: Rating the 30 major league stadiums

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Many fans would like to visit all 30 major league parks. I’ve done it—a number of times. As soon as there’s a new park, I hope the Orioles are scheduled there. So far, I’ve made it to 54 stadiums—all 30 current ones and 24 that are no longer in use. Here’s my ranking of the ones currently in use.

1. Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Sure, it’s a bit of a hometown vote, but because I see every game there now, I can appreciate it even more. Even with smaller crowds, it’s still pretty, and it’s been the gold standard for new parks since it opened in 1992.

It has its faults. The scoreboard is tiny and hard to read, the sound system isn’t very good, but it’s as intimate and beautiful now as it was 26 years ago.

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2. AT&T Park

A compelling case could be made for this as the best ballpark in the majors. It seems a lot like Camden Yards, but since I don’t get to see games there very often, it’ll have to take a back seat.

The view into San Francisco Bay is breathtaking, and the terrific public address announcer, Renel Brooks Moon, helps set a dramatic scene.

Lots of great offerings to eat, and if you’re visiting San Francisco, it’s just a healthy walk from Union Square.

3. Wrigley Field

It’s so fashionable to love the Cubs and Wrigley Field that it’s almost hard to rank it so highly.

The Orioles last visited in 2014 before some huge renovations, but the neighborhood is wonderful, the grass is lovely, and the sounds of the park make you feel so close to the action.

Since my last visit, a new scoreboard and outfield seating has been added and bullpens removed from the field of play.

4. Yankee Stadium

This may be the only list you’ll read that has Yankee Stadium ranked this high. However, as you may have surmised, I’m big on intimacy, and you feel close to the action.

The fans still call the roll of the defense during the first batter, but “An-Du-Jar” doesn’t have the ring as “Der-ek Je-ter.”

It’s like New York, so if you don’t like loud, you probably won’t like Yankee Stadium.

5. Safeco Field

Safeco Field and AT&T Park are the best parks in the generation that came after Oriole Park. Because of Seattle’s unique climate, the playing surface can be covered with a roof, but you can still feel temperature changes.

Seattle is a great place to visit, though it’s awfully far. Lots of great restaurants and activities are near Safeco, and the ballpark majestically reflects the city.

6. PNC Park

The Orioles seem to visit Pittsburgh for a two-game series every three years, and this is a trip I wish they’d make annually. As nice as Camden Yards looks with the Warehouse, PNC has a similar look to downtown across the Allegheny River.

You can walk from downtown across the Roberto Clemente Bridge and eat a Primanti Brothers sandwich at the park. Those are the ones with French fries and Cole slaw.

7. Target Field

A great scoreboard, wide concourses and an overall appealing ballpark make the Minnesota Twins’ home, opened in 2010, a superb place to visit.

The Twins’ organization solicited opinions from baseball people on touches for their park, and as a result, it’s a great experience for players and fans.

8. Citizens Bank Park

Another place the Orioles play every third year for two games, Citizens Bank Park is located in South Philadelphia near Lincoln Bank Field and the First Union Center, home of Philadelphia’s other pro teams.

You can see the heart of Philadelphia a few miles away, but the park has no true signature touch other than the bullpens, which are located on top of each other.

9. Dodger Stadium

A generation ago, Dodger Stadium was the one of the jewels of the major leagues. These days, Dodger Stadium, which the Orioles last visited in 2016, looks somewhat old.

The vistas still look lovely, but postgame traffic is a nightmare. The third-oldest park in the majors, Dodger Stadium is 56 years old, though still a nice place to watch a game.

10.  Fenway Park

This is the park I have the most mixed feelings about. It’s great that it’s different, but it sometimes feels more cramped than intimate.

The concourses are tight, its look is unique and still charming. Like Wrigley, Red Sox excellence in the past 15 years has made being a fan of the team seem cool, and the arrogance of the fans can be a little much at times.

11. Petco Park

On most lists, you’ll find Yankee Stadium rated lower and Petco Park rated higher. It helps that it’s in San Diego, where the weather is ideal. It also helps that it’s a great location, but my problem with it is that it copies from other ballparks and has nothing original.

There’s a warehouse building, a la Camden Yards. There are some quirks, but nothing wonderful. It’s a great and relaxing place to watch a game.

12. Busch Stadium

This is the only ballpark where the Orioles have never played, and I’ve been there only once as a fan.

I loved its location in downtown St. Louis, and the joy from the crowd was pulsating. Hearing “Here Comes the King” played on the organ in the eighth inning is great, and so is the park’s pretty look.

13. Comerica Park

Like Citizens Bank Park, this is one of the most underrated stadiums in the big leagues. It looks out on downtown Detroit, and the field hearkens back to the early days of baseball with a dirt path between the mound and home plate.

It’s a great improvement over Tiger Stadium, which I thought was the most overrated park in the majors.

14. Coors Field

The Orioles last played in Denver in 2004, and since then the Rockies have played in Baltimore four times. Hopefully, next year when the Orioles and Colorado play, they’ll do it a mile high.

Coors Field looks a lot like Camden Yards to me, and the neighborhood around the ballpark, LoDo, short for Lower Downtown, has lots of excellent places to eat and gather.

15. Angels Stadium

Believe it or not, this ballpark is more than 50 years old, but thanks to a renovation, still looks wonderful. It’s helped by the absence of a real winter.

The rock formation in the outfield is really cool, and hearing “Calling All Angels” is an ideal way to get ready for the game.

16. Progressive Field

When it opened, the venue, which was then called Jacobs Field, hosted many entertaining games between the Indians and Orioles. But, in the nearly 25 years since, other newer parks have pushed Progressive Field far down the list.

There’s nothing wrong with the park, which is located less than a mile from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s just that other, newer parks are nicer.

17. Kauffman Stadium

Just like in Cleveland, this ballpark was rated higher before the spate of newer parks opened. Kansas City was ahead of its time 35 years ago when it built separate stadiums for baseball and football in the same locale. That’s been copied many places.

The Royals’ ballpark had its own makeover several years back, and an All-Star Game and two consecutive World Series brought deserved attention to this jewel.

Points are taken away for its location. Though it has more than ample parking, because it’s by I-70, there’s nothing to do nearby with downtown Kansas City 15 minutes away.

18. Globe Life Field

Sadly, one of baseball’s underrated parks is nearing the end of its life. After just 25 years, the onetime Ballpark at Arlington, will give way to the Rangers’ third stadium in the same vicinity since they moved there in 1972. The new Globe Life Park is scheduled to debut in 2020.

Fans are kept away by the intense heat, and the newer version will have a retractable roof. This version is charming with a beautiful brick façade and an inviting right-field porch that reminds some of the late Tiger Stadium. Fortunately, “Deep in the Heart of Texas” remains.

19, Minute Maid Park

Here’s a park that tries too hard. The train in the outfield is fine, and Tal’s Hill, now removed in center field, was unique because it had a slope. Its location on the edge of downtown Houston is a plus.

Overall, the park is too busy, but a big improvement over the Astrodome.

20. Citi Field

It bothers me that there’s nothing in Citi Field that says New York. Because the park is enclosed, there’s no way to tell where you are.

Fans tell me that food in the park is good. There is a Shake Shack, and that’s always a plus.

21. Nationals Park

I’ve tried hard to like Nationals Park, but it just strikes me as cold. I always thought the architects wanted to make sure it didn’t remind fans of a newer Camden Yards, and then went the other way.

After visiting for the Orioles series in June and All-Star Game in July, I’m struck by how much better the scoreboard and sound system are than in Baltimore, and how much development has gone on in the neighborhood nearby.

22. SunTrust Park

Baseball’s newest park is fine, but apparently traffic getting there is a nightmare. I wish the Braves had stayed downtown instead of in a suburb. I didn’t get a chance to visit the hyped restaurants in “The Battery,” adjacent to the ballpark.

However, the scoreboard and sound system are nice, and the Braves have a terrific “Monument Garden,” their version of a Hall of Fame located on the lower concourse that features retired numbers and historic artifacts.

“Beat the Freeze,” where a fan tries to win a race against a costumed member of the ground crew, may be baseball’s best between-innings entertainment.

23. Great American Ballpark

Nothing special about this 15-year-old stadium. Located close to where the Reds used to play at Riverfront Stadium, it’s right near the bridge to Kentucky.

The Bengals play nearby at Paul Brown Stadium, which is more unique than this one.

24. Miller Park

Perhaps the only newer park that’s weaker than the one it replaced. County Stadium was located near it, and it always reminded me of Memorial Stadium. Bricks with a bakery inside.

Miller Park is a 10-minute ride from downtown Milwaukee, and when the roof is closed, it’s kind of depressing. Watching Bernie Brewer make his way down the slide after a Jonathan Schoop home run is kind of fun.

25. Marlins Park

My wife would say this place suffers from overstimulation. The Orange Bowl once stood here just minutes from downtown Miami, but the new place seems sterile.

The Marlins have had their own set of issues, and haven’t had a contending team since they’ve played there. Perhaps if they played well, the crowds would be livelier, and it would rate higher.

26. Chase Field

This is the only park I haven’t been to in this century, but I remember being unimpressed when I first saw it. The Diamondbacks are hunting around for a new home away from downtown Phoenix.

The retractable roof is necessary because of the heat, but other than Seattle, which was inventive, it’s hard to have a top-shelf park with a dome.

27. Rogers Centre

Sadly, this one was built just three years before the Orioles opened theirs, and quickly seemed outmoded. Toronto is a great city, and the exchange rate is favorable, but the rabid Blue Jays fans deserve a better park.

My guilty pleasure is that I like to sing along with “OK, Blue Jays,” and annoy my fellow writers.

28. Guaranteed Rate Field

Like Toronto, this suffers from opening just a year before Camden Yards. When it was new, it seemed intimate. Now, it’s dreary and without atmosphere.

Making things worse, Wrigley Field is just 10 miles away, and it’s in the middle of a neighborhood that’s jumping. There’s not much around the White Sox home. Because it’s in a great city like Chicago, that’s doubly bad.

29. Tropicana Field

The Rays have been trying to escape the Trop forever, and hope to build a new park in Tampa in the next several years. The crowds are small, there’s no atmosphere and it’s located in St. Petersburg, where many from Tampa are hesitant to go.

It has the only non-retractable roof in baseball, so you know there’ll be a game.

30. Oakland Coliseum

Once upon a time, this was actually a pleasant venue to watch a game. Then, the Raiders moved back from Los Angeles and seats were built to hide the Oakland Hills view.

Now, the Raiders are leaving for Las Vegas, and like in Tampa Bay, the Athletics have been trying for a new home for years. They’ll probably end up building a new stadium next to the old one.

In the meantime, they’ve added food trucks so fans have more dining options, and some are really good.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Creatively09

    August 22, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I have no real problem with your list, other than to fault it for being from the perspective of someone who spends their time in the press box, and not in the seats with the real fans. My real complaint is that Yankee Stadium is so high on that list. My fan experience is that unless you’re willing to shell out big money for good seats, most of the other overpriced seats are far removed from the action. Whereas Wrigley Field is known as the “friendly confines” there is nothing about Yankee Stadium that strikes me as intimate, other than how intimately the Yankees reach inside your wallet for your money.

    In other regards, is it wrong for me to want to visit Tampa and Oakland just to experience how bad their stadiums are? We crossed Toronto off the list this season, and agree that they deserve better.

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 22, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Creatively, as I wrote it, I was well aware that this was a list for fans and not for writers.

      For example, PNC Park, which is high on my list would rate much lower because its press box is incredibly high and Tampa Bay would be higher because it has a great working environment for the press.

      I knew many readers would disagree with my Yankee Stadium assessment.

      No reason not to visit Tampa Bay or Oakland. It’s still Major League Baseball, and you may have a reason to rate it higher on your list.

  2. Schwarzstop

    August 22, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I visited PNC Park in Pittsburgh and The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati last month and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and atmosphere in both. I would move Cincy up into at least the Top 20 and probably Top 15, but I’m going primarily on how the stadiums look on TV, not personal visits (other than the 2 above, Nats Park, and OPACY). Yankee Stadium II looks from the outside like the Evil Empire HQ that it is and doesn’t appear to have much character, inside or out. Fenway looks cramped, but then people were smaller last century. Wrigley is high on my list for Wanna See, but Philly and Atlanta are probably next due to proximity. If you’re looking for intimate ballparks, though, hard to beat the Minor Leagues… Delmarva, Frederick, and Bowie are close and well worth a visit!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 22, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you for your comments, Schwarzstop. Just because I rank a ballpark low doesn’t mean I really dislike it. I think the hardest for me to write about were my second 10, many of which I really like. I have Cleveland and Kansas City in my bottom 15, and I like both of them a lot. It’s just that there are so many others I like better.

      I’ve been to Delmarva , Bowie and Frederick. This season, I’ve been to Bowie twice, and enjoy the atmosphere. Many of the parks in spring training are like that.

  3. OsFan21

    August 22, 2018 at 10:38 am

    I disagree with your assessment of Great American Ballpark. It has to be in my top 5. The riverboat-style bar out in left center with old-school riverboats cruising down the ohio during the game? Beautiful. Nice, small intimate park with great food (particularly skyline chili coneys). Yum!

    • Rich Dubroff

      August 22, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you for defending Great American Ball Park, OsFan21. I don’t dislike it. I just felt like they could have done more with it because of its neat location.

      And, you’re partial to chili, and I’m glad that you looked theirs. The next time I’m there, I’ll try to check some out.

  4. charmcitydeac

    August 23, 2018 at 9:44 am

    I think one ballpark that you ranked too low is Petco Park. Had an opportunity to visit that one last week and I was very impressed and pleasantly surprised. I like the Western Metal Supply building, and the fact that it is part of the ballpark itself (and is part of the left-field wall) distinguishes it from the Warehouse. I also love the grass hill beyond centerfield. It’s Eutaw Street with grass. Perfect for kids and pets. I honestly have a tough time distinguishing between Wrigley and Fenway. I think both are cramped and both have obstructed view seats and both have history and character on their side. I think (as most commenters do) that you have Yankee Stadium way too high. For me, its just too big a footprint. Very impersonal and too expensive. I also found some of your comments a bit conflicting to me. You say you like intimacy, but you praise Yankee Stadium for it (I view it as just the opposite) and you claim you don’t like Tiger Stadium (which, for all of its flaws–was nothing if not intimate–you were right on top of the action in many sections).

  5. 66OsFan

    August 24, 2018 at 2:21 am

    Rich,
    Love your assessment and comments. I have now visited 25 MLB parks, 4 of which are no longer around. I’m looking forward to an extended West Coast trip next season and afterwards should only have 3 left. I’ve ranked the ones I’ve visited and added some comments as a fan.
    1 AT&T Park, great views, wide selection of concessions and the area around the park continues to grow and offer a lot to do before and after a game.
    2 PNC Park, again great views of downtown Pittsburg, a lot to do in the park and around it another great selection of concessions.
    3. Great American Ballpark as was mentioned by another poster, Skyline Chili nothing more need be said. The Reds Hall of Fame and museum is an excellent addition to the park, (Can you hear this MD Stadium Authority? Reopen the Legends museum in Camden Station!!!) and of all the parks, I found the seats the most comfortable,
    4 Target Field A retro-modern feel, wide concourse and it has heaters! Couldn’t find a bad view in the entire park
    5. Safeco Field, The roof makes it interesting, although it does feel like a huge distraction in the background while in the stands. Nice Hall of Fame area off the main concourse, another wide selection of concessions
    6. OPACY, yes, it was the first of the retro parks and led a revolution in baseball only ballparks, but the fact that nothing significant has been done to upgrade it is disappointing (see my Progressive Field comments)
    7. Progressive Field. Love what the Indians have done to upgrade the ballpark, including removing seats and creating SRO areas where fans can mingle as well as watch the game. The fact that the concession stands can be accessed from field side as well as “street side” maximize space and the variety of food available is pretty good.
    8. Yankee Stadium not the new one, haven’t made it there yet, but the one just prior. Attended a game there during the 1997 wire to wire season. Monument Park was great, food was okay, and yes, the “smell of the city” was part of the ambiance,
    9. Minute Maid Park First time I ever attended a game in an enclosed stadium, impressed with the layout, was not a fan of the train…..
    10. Wrigley Field the fact that it’s Wrigley should be enough, but having attended a night and day game there it’s quite a difference, wasn’t impressed with the lighting on the field, but again, having been able to experience a ballpark that was a 100-year history is neat
    11. Comerica Park love the Tiger’s history displayed throughout the main concourse, and, hey, ya can’t beat the carousel! Good food selection and comfortable seats
    12. SunTrust Park The Battery area makes it another park where there’s plenty to do before and after a game. Have to admit though, the seat alignment is not fan-friendly, and I think they missed the mark with a lot of the “high-priced” club seats behind home plate
    13. Fenway Park. Small, intimate, but obstructed views and the fans do make it lower on the list…. But hey, it’s Fenway and that is something
    14. Globe Life Park. Poor copy for OPACY, felt like a stadium inside a building. Not a lot to do around the area unless you want to spend a day at an amusement park. It must be nice for Arlington having Globe Life and AT&T Stadium as far as tax revenue though…
    15 Citizens Bank Park Great access and the main concourse is laid out with the fans in mind, can see the game while waiting in line, always a plus, but not being downtown is a distractor, not much to do before the game except the overpriced restaurant that’s a part of the ballpark.
    16. Nationals Park. Nothing special here, wasn’t a fan of how the main concourse seemed irregular and “broken up” even though it really isn’t, upper deck seats feel far away. Oh, and by the way, how about running the Metro for an hour AFTER games end rather than during the game….
    17. Citi Field. Other than the Apple in the outfield being saved from Shea, there’s really nothing much “New York” about this ballpark. I didn’t get a chance to visit the Met’s Hall of Fame, but at least they have something (can you hear me still MD Stadium Authority???)
    18. Miller Park, I get it, trying to incorporate the industrial heritage of the region, but not a convenient location, and nothing else to do around the area. But they do get credit for being the only park I know that allows and encourages tailgating
    19. Guaranteed Rate Field (US Cellular Field when I visited) Battleship grey must pay homage to the Naval training center, big park, nothing special, although the wide concourse and ability to see the game while waiting in line is better than OPACY and watching on a monitor screen
    20 Memorial Stadium First ballpark I ever saw an MLB game, lots of memories there, from the “Roar from 34” to Orioles Magic. But the dizzying heights and incline of the upper deck and the obstructed seats were distractors
    21. Oakland Coliseum wasn’t a fan of the area the ballpark was located, but the BART stop made if convenient while staying in San Francisco, another concrete canyon, but love what the A’s are doing to attract fans.
    22. Tropicana Field. More like indoor arena football than baseball, the place is dingy and not a lot of options for food, seats were okay, but it just didn’t feel like baseball
    23. Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Old ballpark feel, but really, really big for baseball
    24. Three Rivers Stadium, can you say concrete canyon? And let’s face it, “We are Family” got old real quick….
    25. Exhibition Stadium sitting in the outfield felt like I was in another province….

    • Schwarzstop

      August 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Hear! Hear! On the Nats and Metro. Metro needs to realize that they are there to serve us, not whoever it is they think they’re serving. If the Nats need to make a contribution to keep the subway open an hour, so be it. I’m quite certain a corporate sponsor could be found! And the Baltimore Light Rail needs a lesson in customer service, as well!

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