As one of the “Big 4” along with basketball, hockey and football, Major League Baseball has always come down to the batting team versus the fielding team. Although it’s difficult to trace its true origins, North America has been obsessed with the old ball game for well over 100 years. From the dead-ball era to the modern day introduction of instant reply, the evolution of baseball continues. Along with the game, the venues continue to reinvent themselves so that fans can watch their favorite team or player in style.
Many stadiums today offer common features including a grandstand, retractable roof and in-play scoreboards while older fields like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field have maintained the nostalgia of Jewel Box ballparks. This flexibility makes baseball the only sport where the field of play could completely change the game. Given the unlimited supply of baseball fans in North America, the one common goal every franchise should achieve is a large seating capacity.
While the smallest ballpark is the current home of the Tampa Bay Rays, three of their division rivals are considered the biggest ballparks in the league. With 30 teams divided into the American League and the National League, there are a tremendous amount of fans to accommodate all at the same time. With so many fans and the longest regular season of the “Big 4”, these parks must be able to endure and entertain tens of thousands of people at least half of the regular season. According to ESPN, these are the top 10 biggest parks in Major League Baseball.
10. Angel Stadium of Anaheim – 45,389
Originally known simply as Angel Stadium, this California ballpark is one of the oldest active stadiums in Major League Baseball. Since its inception, Angel Stadium has had three different names and two major renovations. Opened in 1966, the ballpark underwent renovations in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s to accommodate the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. The second renovation came in the 1990’s when the Rams relocated to St. Louis and the stadium was quickly converted back to a baseball-only venue. Angel Stadium has been the home of the Angels since they relocated from Los Angeles to Anaheim in 1995.
9. Oriole Park at Camden Yards – 45,971
The original “retro” park, Camden Yards opened April 6, 1992 as the home of the Baltimore Orioles. Highly praised for its architecture and fan-friendly venue, this beautiful ballpark underwent $110 million in renovations to accommodate the rising popularity of professional baseball in Baltimore. Located downtown Baltimore, you can actually watch the ballpark from Eutaw Street on the other side of the Camden Yards fence. In 1992, this park was one of a kind and since then has influenced many architectural and design features in other parks around the league.
8. Safeco Field – 47,447
Enfranchised in 1977, the Seattle Mariners have been at home at Safeco Field since 1999. This state-of-the-art stadium replaced the former Kingdome and has since been hailed one of the premium ballparks in Major League Baseball. According to ESPN, there are four types of Kentucky bluegrass and two kinds of perennial rye grass to make up this sustainable ballpark. With a retractable roof to provide an open-air feel and and custom blend of natural grass, this venue is primed for the best athletes. And for the fans, local beer and some of the best ballpark food around the league.
7. Chase Field – 48,633
Originally known as Bank One Ballpark, this popular landmark has been home to the Arizona Diamondbacks since 1998. Chase Field goes beyond expectations with a retractable roof, air-conditioning and a swimming pool to relieve some of the desert heat. With a comfortable environment, fans also enjoy exceptional seats as more than 80% of the seats are within the foul poles. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, D-back fans can enjoy luxurious games at home.
6. Globe Life Park in Arlington – 49,170
Located in suburban Arlington, Texas, this ballpark was just renamed to Globe Life Park in Arlington for the 2014 season. Originally opened in 1994 as The Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers have seen their home field change to Ameriquest Field in 2005 through Rangers Ballpark in 2007 to the present day Globe Life Park in Arlington. This $191 million complex features five seating levels and has a baseball museum, a lake and tons of recreation space. The most unique feature is the four-story office building housing retail shops and commercial office space located from left center to right center fields.
5. Rogers Center – 49,539
Formerly known as SkyDome, the Rogers Center was the first stadium to feature a fully retractable roof making it one the most luxurious ballparks in the world. Opened in 1989, the Rogers Center is located downtown Toronto, Ontario and also features a hotel attached to the stadium with some rooms overlooking the field. One major perk of this world-class stadium is its ability to transform from a ballpark to a football stadium in just a matter of hours. Along with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rogers Center is also home to the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. While the Jays have struggled to perform over the last few years, this ballpark was the 4th most hitter-friendly stadium in 2013.
4. Turner Field – 49,743
Named after Atlanta Braves owner, Ted Turner, this $320 million stadium was originally built to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. After the Games had finished, it was retrofitted to be a baseball-only stadium while the old ballpark, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, was demolished and rebuilt as a parking lot for Turner Field. Since its inception, the “Home of the Braves” has succeeded in providing the old time baseball feeling while still maintaining a state-of-the-art facility.
3. Yankee Stadium – 50,291
While it may no longer be The House That Ruth Built, you can still find a mix of the old and the new at Yankee Stadium. The new Yankee Stadium has less seats than the old one, but many of its signature features were incorporated into the current ballpark. As one of the oldest teams in Major League Baseball, the renovations made in 2009 were able to maintain their dominating legacy while giving back to the community that has stood behind them for decades. Although they no longer have the highest team salary cap, the New York Yankees net worth is one of the highest in all professional sport,s so it’s no surprise that their facility is one of the biggest and best stadiums today.
2. Coors Field – 50,490
Home of the Colorado Rockies, Coors Field was the most hitter-friendly stadium in Major League Baseball in 2013. The $215 million park opened in 1995 and actually has stadium seating located one mile above sea level. This park is covered by 120,000 square feet of sod and the playing field was wired with an underground heating system due to the variety of seasons in Colorado. Despite a disappointing 2013 season, the Colorado Rockies need to stay healthy this season in order to bring the playoffs home to Coors Field.
1. Dodger Stadium – 56,000
The biggest stadium for the biggest salary cap. The Los Angeles Dodgers have managed to knock the Yankees’ salary cap down a notch for the first time in 15 years. But this franchise is more than rich in money, the history surrounding Dodger stadium makes it one of the greatest sporting venues in professional sports. The park opened in 1962 and, in the 52 years since its establishment, it has provided baseball fans all around the world with memorable moments. With more recent stars including Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ legacy lives on in the third oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball.
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