The top 5 Major League ballparks as rated by baseball fan Jay Theriot, who has been to all 30 of them.
While the facility itself is inferior to any ballpark built since 1973 (not including the Dolphins' football stadium), the place is nonetheless a shrine of shrines. In a fantastic neighborhood location, Wrigley Field evokes all the traditional feelings of what makes baseball so beloved. Loyal fans, the 'L' train, the rooftop bleachers, Old Style Beer, the surrounding bars and eateries. This cannot be topped. It's a thrill just to see all the men telling their families about Harry Carey, the Cubs, and the history of Wrigley. About half the people at any given game are from out of town and enthralled that they've finally made it there. Wrigley Field has flaws: obstructed views, ancient restrooms, crumbling concrete -- but they do a good job maintaining what they have to a high standard. NO baseball fan should miss a visit to this classic.
This beautiful retro clone ballpark is simply fantastic in every way. The capacity (38,365) is perfect for the Pirates level of competitiveness and fan support. The views of downtown at night are breathtaking. It's very exciting to walk back to the parking lot across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The attendants and fans are quite friendly. The ticket prices are good. The views of the field are excellent from all areas. Pittsburghers should be proud of their fantastic ballpark.
It has a beautiful industrial looking design. It's proximity to downtown makes it convenient for tourism and things to do before/after the games. The idea of an open-air retractable roof is brilliant. Ticket prices are good and the staff are very friendly. No one hassled me about walking around or sitting anywhere. The food was also good.
San Francisco Giants
No negatives that I could see. Like Safeco and others, it's a beautiful retro clone park in an excellent downtown location. I was able to walk and sit freely all over the place. The food is pretty good, the fans are loud and supportive, and the location next to the bay makes for an exciting, if somewhat chilly, summertime experience. The sightlines are good from all locations. The views of the city and bay area are outstanding as well. Access to the ballpark from the streetcar/trains is easy, as well as by bus or walking.
U.S. Cellular Field
Chicago White Sox
It has probably faced more criticism than any modern ballpark. I must out of hand reject these complaints. First, the neighborhood is not bad (that's across the I-94/57 freeway) and the area has steadily improved since 2001 (my first visit). I walked from Chinatown to the White Sox game in 2005 and saw nothing but good neighborhood. Jimbo's Bar and Grill north of "The Cell" is a fun pre/post game hangout and there are a number of places to go west of the ballpark on Halstead Street (also a free parking option for night/Sunday/holiday games). This ballpark, the last of the modern stadiums, is in pristine condition. The upper deck in not high relative to other MLB ballparks (contrary to what critics have mistakenly written), the fans are very enthusiastic, staff are helpful, and parking is easy (if not very expensive). Fans with a AAA card can purchase any ticket half price for all games. The concessions here are, overall, probably the best in MLB.
Ronald "Jay" Theriot, Jr. is a high school social studies teacher and baseball fan living in Laplace, Louisiana. He completed his goal of attending games at all 30 MLB ballparks in July of 2007.