My 5 favorite Major League ballparks:
Boston Red Sox
If ever there was a ballpark worthy of a pilgrimage, itís nestled into nine acres of land in Bostonís Back Bay. The Red Sox refer to their home as Americaís Most Beloved Ballpark and I'm not one to argue. Built in 1912, Fenway Park is sensory overload for the first time visitor. No place has more history or unique features. Fenway is quaint. It's always sold out. It's the oldest ballpark in the Majors. It is baseball nirvana.
This gem of a ballpark is the best of the modern era mainly because no other MLB ballpark takes better advantage of its surroundings. If you don't think Pittsburgh has much to offer as a city, see a game at PNC Park, where the city's buildings, rivers and bridges take on a starring role. This ballpark has the best views in the big leagues, although watching the home team leaves a lot to be desired. The Pirates haven't had a winning record since 1992, and their lack of success is the only reason PNC isn't fawned over by the national media.
Citizens Bank Park
My first reaction was Wow! Somehow the Phillies built one of the best ballparks in baseball, despite having a less than ideal location. Citizens Bank Park sits four miles from downtown and its only neighbors are three stadiums and arenas, plus 21,000 parking spaces. Despite this, the ballpark is nearly built to perfection with a mix of charm and openness that makes Philadelphia a surprising, yet absolute joy of a city to see a ballgame in.
Lots of neighborhoods have a bar, but only one has a ballpark. The Wrigleyville neighborhood on Chicago's North Side is as much a part of the game day experience as the Cubs themselves, and the location is responsible for the laid back ambiance that permeates from the special place located at the corner of Waveland and Sheffield. A lot of the appeal of Wrigley Field comes from simple things: smoke wafting in from rooftop grills, fans packed into the bleachers, the free flow of alcohol, the singing of Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch.... Wrigley's a classic and deserves to be on any fan's list of must-see ballparks.
Kansas City Royals
Simple, yet pleasant in a spectacular fashion. Kansas City managed to master the art of the non-fully enclosed open air stadium before they became chic. Kauffman Stadium was built in the most bland ballpark building era the game has known, yet the home of the Royals sets itself apart with a homey midwestern charm and 322 feet of fountains and waterfalls, which cascade just beyond the outfield fence. Yes, the ballpark was seemingly built in the middle of nowhere, but it is such a lovely sight to behold.
And for those wanting to know, my list for the most disappointing ballparks I've been to (from bad to worst):
- Miller Park (Brewers) - A new ballpark is supposed to be better than its predecessor. That's not the case in Milwaukee.
- McAfee Coliseum (A's) - Blame this one on Al Davis and the Raiders.
- RFK Stadium (Nationals) - Just because it's a temporary home doesn't mean RFK has to have the worst fan services in baseball.
- Metrodome (Twins) - Just about everybody will agree on this: there's nothing traditional or good about the place.
- Dolphins Stadium (Marlins) - It was built for football only. Want proof? It bears the name of an NFL team and is located on Dan Marino Boulevard. This is easily the worst place to see a game in the Majors for a number of reasons. If the Marlins don't get a new ballpark they should, and will, relocate.
Agree or disagree? Have your own Top 5 list?
E-mail me your comments.