The recent trend around Major League Baseball of building new, baseball-only stadiums has led to many beautiful ballparks to visit around the majors. Teams have built ballparks whose dimensions are far friendlier to the game of baseball and it has created a warmer, more intimate atmosphere in the ballpark. There are still of course the classic ballparks, residing in cities fortunate enough to see the same ballpark standing for decade after decade. There are plenty of great ballparks to visit to take in a ballgame. Speaking as a fan from Montreal, not having the Expos has led me to a few different ballparks myself. I still have plenty more I want to visit, as should many fans of America’s pastime. Taking into account their history, atmosphere and sheer beauty, here are the 10 ballparks every fan should visit at least once.
10. Safeco Field – Seattle, WA
Seattle sure has some nice stadiums. Safeco Field is just 15 years old, alas it doesn’t have much history, but it does have an amazing view and perhaps the only stadium with a retractable roof that isn’t an eye sore.
The ballpark offers a view of the Seattle skyline. Any stadium giving you a view of the city is a plus. The ballpark has great food as well, offering Teriyaki, barbeque, sushi and of course has the Ivar Dog.
The ballpark doesn’t have that one distinct feature that other stadiums on this list have, but this is a clean cut venue and there’s not a bad seat in the house. The confines are friendly for fans no matter where they’re sitting. If only the Mariners were to go on a playoff run, then a national audience could see the ballpark more often and appreciate it.
Bonus fact: It’s the sole baseball-only facility to host a WrestleMania.
9. Coors Field – Denver, CO
The vibrant downtown surrounding of Coors Field, coupled with a great view of the rocky mountains makes this a must-visit.
Due to the high altitude, the low air density makes fly balls travel faster and farther than in other parks. This resulted in the home run fences being built much further back than other ballparks. For many years, the large outfield has resulted in more home runs, doubles and triples than any other ballpark.
The stadium hosted the 1998 All-Star Game and fans saw its atmosphere on full display in the Cinderella run of the Rockies in 2007.
Oh, and the stadium that has its own microbrewery. I rest my case.
8. Kauffmann Stadium – Kansas City, MO
In a time when the trend was all about indoor, all-purpose stadiums, Kansas City bucked the trend and boy, they nailed it. Many stadiums built in the 1970s are now eye sores today or are no longer in use for baseball. The Royals built one that is breathtaking and while modern, still has that retro feel to it.
The Royals may be stinking it up on the diamond, but maybe it’s because they’re so infatuated with the stadium that they can’t concentrate. The crown in centre field has that distinct feature of the home team and the fountains in the outfield are magnificent.
This is a great place to take a date, or even your kids, because if they don’t like the game, there are plenty of sights to occupy them. The surroundings of the stadium are mostly trees and roads, but you have plenty in the stadium to attract your eyes.
7. Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
It’s time to delve into some history. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. The construction cost was $23 million ($179 million today), yet it still holds up very well and is still a great place to go.
You have a view of the San Gabriel mountains, and overall it is a very simple, but warm and cozy park. Perhaps it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as others on this list, but if you’re a baseball fan, you definitely want to pass by Dodger Stadium at least once. There’s a nice homage to the giant Hollywood sign in the city, with the “Think Blue” sign north of the stadium. A nice touch.
The stadium has hosted parts of eight World Series. It also has the booth of the greatest baseball announcer of all time in Vin Scully.
The Dodger Dog is also one of the most famous ballpark foods in America. Baseball fans have it all here. Bonus; it’s in L.A!
6. Yankee Stadium – Bronx, NYC
Was the old Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built, still standing, this would be higher up on the list. Still, the new Yankee Stadium is still worthy of a sixth spot.
It still has that aura to it and it is in essence, a recreation of the old stadium. Monument Park is still here as well, so you can check out the rich history of the New York Yankees. The old stadium’s site is just across the street, so you can still feel you’re in the presence of a ton of history.
No baseball fan could say they wouldn’t want to visit Yankee Stadium at least once, whether you love or hate the team.
5. Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Baltimore, MD
If you want a modern ballpark with a retro feel to it, this is the ballpark for you. Opening in 1992, Camden Yards makes you feel you’re back in the early 20th century, yet it has the modern twist to give it a timeless look. You could say Baltimore was a trendsetter for the rest of baseball in the way they built this beauty.
The incorporation of the old B&O Warehouse is a great touch. Who would’ve thought a warehouse would look good outside a ballpark? You still get a good view of the Baltimore skyline and you have good surrounds in Eutaw street which has plenty of shops and restaurants. Personally, this one is the one I want to hit next.
4. PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA
History will take a back seat to stunning beauty for a second. PNC Park made it easier for Pittsburgh to say goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium, because well, just look at it!
The Roberto Clemente Bridge is a feature that no other ballpark can duplicate. The whole view of the ballpark is arguably the best in baseball. You have the bridge, the Pittsburgh skyline and the Allegheny River, where fans paddle in boats for stray balls.
PNC Park opened in 2001 and the stadium finally got the atmosphere it deserved last year when the Pirates made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. Let’s hope we see more of PNC Park in October in the near future.
It’s also a cozy, intimate ballpark, as the furthest seat from the field is only 88 feet. It seats around 38,000 and that’s just about the right amount if you want a warm, intimate ballpark.
3. AT&T Park – San Francisco, CA
AT&T Park has turned the city of San Francisco into a great baseball city, a Giants town. The park is sold out almost every night and why wouldn’t you want to go? It’s an amazing fan experience, even for those who don’t follow too much baseball.
You have a view of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The McCovey Cove and San Francisco bay surrounds it, with fans in boats looking for stray balls. The Coke bottle in left field, the big baseball glove and the little Giants field only add to the charm.
Opening in 2000, the stadium has mastered the mix of classic ballpark feel and modern amenities. You could say it’s the most fan-friendly park in the majors. This one is a true gem, and anybody wanting to build a great ballpark (Montreal, please) should take a long look at AT&T Park and try to emulate as much as they can from it.
2. Fenway Park – Boston, MA
Like this would be left out. Fenway Park has it all. The history, the look, the atmosphere, the charm and it’s the home of the defending world champs to boot.
It’s perhaps baseball’s most famous venue and it’s a must-see for baseball fans. The area surrounding the ballpark isn’t great, but once you’re in the confines of Fenway, you’re on holy ground.
The Pesky Pole, the Green Monster and the unique dimensions of the field make it a place like no other. This park opened in 1912 and has seen a lot of success and heartbreak but it’s still standing. It has character. Baseball, football, soccer and hockey have all been played here. Thankfully, the Red Sox did not move from Fenway to a new park (which would’ve been a replica) as there were plans to do so about 15 years ago. Instead they made necessary renovations to the ballpark. It’s still their home and will be, hopefully forever.
1. Wrigley Field – Chicago, IL
Everything you thought about ballparks is a lie, until you’ve been to Wrigley Field. By far baseball’s best neighbourhood, Wrigley is a fitting centrepiece. It’s the most iconic baseball stadium in America. Okay, the world too.
The ivy in the outfield still grows, the scoreboards are still hand-operated and the Harry Caray tradition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still carried, with many former players and celebrities taking a crack at it.
I can say, without a doubt, it’s the best ballpark I’ve ever been to. The view of Lake Michigan from the upper deck is mesmerizing, as is he cool view of bleachers on rooftops with fans from other buildings taking in the game. That red marquee on the outside with the words, “Wrigley Field, Home Of Chicago Cubs” will send chills down your spine.
It’s so traditional, no games were played at night until the Cubs were forced to do so by MLB in 1988, or they would be prohibited from hosting playoff games at Wrigley. If there’s an argument to be made for any sports facility to be given landmark status, it’s Wrigley. It’s America at its finest.