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The 2013 Major League Baseball season is officially underway, and the last round of Home Openers will be played today. One of the most interesting things about this list is how good most Major League ballparks are these days. Formerly known as the SkyDome, the Rogers Centre and its incredible movable roof were the crown jewel of baseball in 1989. Of course, whether you love or hate the actual stadium itself, the fact remains that the Marlins are the most depressing team in baseball. Chase Field in Arizona would actually be a lovely ballpark if not for two unfortunate features: the swimming pool in right center field, and the the fact that what used to be windows beyond the outfield are now gigantic billboards. Minute Maid Park, nee Enron Field (oops), is another retractable roof stadium that really would be pretty good if not for a couple of annoying features.
One has to respect the Nationals for trying to do a more modern version of the retro ballpark that’s become so popular in recent years. It should be noted, however, that the fans have been pretty electric for the last couple years as their team has gone from putrid to outstanding.
When the Rangers decided to build a new ballpark in the early 90s, they understandably decided to go retro. Of course, this assessment of the architectural decisions is probably overly harsh for our purposes here.
The Mets (relatively) new $850 stadium is almost infinitely better than the old Shea Stadium. Opting to renovate Kauffman Stadium in 2009 rather than pursue an entirely new venue was probably the only good decision the Kansas City Royals have made over the last 20 years.
Citizens Bank Park is a really nice stadium with an open outfield that boasts some nice views of Philadelphia’s downtown skyline—a really nice feature for fans sitting in the upper deck of many modern venus.
The only problem with the new Yankee Stadium for those of you who aren’t Yankees fans? Simply put, Coors field in Denver, Colorado, is one of the finest of the retro ballparks constructed in the early and mid 1990s. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
There are a few truly bad ones, a few unexciting-but-passable ones, and then 20 or so pretty great places to take in a baseball game. Well, we were going to try to be all scientific and assign scores to each ballpark in a variety of categories, such as food, overall price, aesthetics, location, and so on.


The Rays are a fantastic organization and a lot of fun to watch, but when your stadium has to have a convoluted set of ground rules to deal with the multiple levels of catwalks dangling over the field, something is not right.
Teams have demonstrated over the years that it is indeed possible to rehabilitate those circular cookie-cutter multipurpose stadiums of the 1960s. However, beyond a giant HD scoreboard in center field, very little has been done over the years to update the place, and now it’s a dreary, lifeless stadium when the roof is shut. If you’re seated down the first base line, you get to look out the giant windows beyond left field at the Miami Skyline.
The ownership group has completely demoralized both their fans and the players with frequent payroll purges.
The former is just ridiculous for obvious reasons*, and the latter makes the place look like a minor league park on steroids. The largest entrance to the stadium is actually the original 1911 Union Station lobby, which is pretty awesome, and the retractable roof is one of the most innovative and architecturally interesting in all of baseball.
The exterior facade has a sleek glass and metal look, and the interior is white and navy, which is a nice departure from the more common forrest green-based color scheme. So despite the stadium itself being so-so, the atmosphere might make a visit worth your while. But of course, at the end of the day, any attempt to be scientific would still have been met with ire from fans angry that we slighted their sacred baseball shrine. The team could easily make some aesthetic improvements that would make the place look less like a cold Soviet prison for baseball fans.
If, on the other hand, you’re seated down the third base line, you get to look at a very quirky right field grandstand. Unfortunately, they end up being too close to the originals, and just come off as kind of weird and desperate. The only complaint you could make about this place is that it looks better from the air than from inside. Well, the Angels have actually done a very nice job keeping the place modern and fan-friendly. From 2001 to 2007 the team spent $118 million (almost as much as it originally cost to build) to transform the place from a lifeless bowl into one of the nicer ballparks in MLB—the most important change being the removal of eight rows from the upper deck and the addition of a more vintage-looking roof.
And you have to love the riverboat stacks out in center field—so fitting for a ballpark located in one of North America’s great river towns. Since then, the team and the fan-base have cooled off a bit, but it’s still a first-rate ballpark worthy of a visit.


Also, unlike their New York counterparts, the Yankees managed to keep the scale of the center field signage under control–it’s all dwarfed by the jumbotron and the stadium grandstands on either side.
The only thing that could make it better would be a view of the mountains beyond center field, but you just can’t have everything. That being said, there are also a handful of ballparks that still stand out from the rest as the cream of the crop.
Moreover, what makes baseball special is that, despite our attempts to quantify it, it remains ineffable. Louis Cardinals, for example, did a splendid job of refurbishing the old Busch Stadium before they built the new one. However, such improvements—painting, installing natural grass, adding some more aesthetically pleasing scoreboards, and the like—would make it impossible to use the stadium for things other than baseball. They probably thought that was going to be an interesting architectural feature, and obviously they were trying to pay homage to the fact that the stadium sits where Houston’s Union Station used to be. The ambiance won’t blow you away or anything, but there are a lot of baseball fans out there who have it a lot worse than the folks in Orange County, California. Plus, for every game the place is packed with people who were born and raised in Minnesota, which just might be the nicest state in the Union.
No other pro sport is romanticized as much as baseball, so it doesn’t seem right to apply rigid formulas in assessing its stadiums.
However, when late Raiders owner Al Davis agreed to move the team back to Oakland in 1995, it was on the condition that a giant addition be built, closing up the formerly open center field.
And, unfortunately, it’s not very likely that the team is going to shut off that revenue stream any time soon.
Because when you’re sitting in the seats facing the outfield, pretty much all you see is an enormous wall of billboards looming over you. So baseball fans in Toronto are probably stuck with this drab place for the foreseeable future.



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Comments
  1. NOD32 04.08.2014 at 21:56:20
    Nation wrote the Scarlet and Gray off may be no better indicator of the sport's bright future.
  2. tenha_tural 04.08.2014 at 19:24:44
    Season, Brady's h18tory??gear will make up for the potential money lost when Manning.
  3. WANTED 04.08.2014 at 15:44:45
    And lineage Peyton Manning's physical gifts alone would have made.