My 5 favorite Major League ballparks:
"The Jake," located in the heart of downtown Cleveland, has a white steel design that mirrors the industrial side of the city and the three levels of luxury suites separated by thin white dividers that give the park a uniform, classy look. Easy to access from anywhere downtown and with ample parking for boisterous sellout crowds, Jacobs has one of the best environments in baseball on a sellout night. Unlike many modern parks, Jacobs has a consistent look throughout the structure and does not rely on many forced features. It simply has a classy look emphasized by sharp lines, the best scoreboard in baseball, and all the amenities a baseball fan needs. Cleveland baseball crowds and Indians' teams have adapted to this park and even 12 years after its opening, Jacobs Field is still my favorite. It seems like the only "retro" park that may stand out in the future like Fenway and Wrigley do today.
San Francisco Giants
A compact intimate stadium, AT&T Park is a perfect setting for big moments or casual Saturday afternoon visits to the ballpark. While a nice park with amenities and comforts about as good as any other park, AT&T gets vaulted to the top of the list because of its miraculous view. Some say PNC Park's river and skyline view is more impressive, but seeing the mountains, the Bay Bridge and a sparkling bay above the sights of a giant Coke bottle and Barry Bonds splashing bombs into McCovey Cove is one of baseball's "can't miss" experiences.
PNC Park was the first retro park to actually be a little different. The Pirates' fan base isn't huge, so PNC is a small park, and especially designed to give fans great sightlines. The highest seat in the place is just 88 feet above the field. The design is nice, and the way architects opened up right field to a movie set-like view must be applauded.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
It was the original. More recent parks have improved upon its amenities, sightlines and overall designs, but Camden Yards was the original. Its concourses, even if they don't have a view of the field, are jammed with the smells of crab cakes and the right field concourse is an attraction even without the ballpark next door. The design isn't overdone and brilliantly mirrors its location.
Its concourses are dark, smelly and the concrete occasionally crumbles, but this is a cathedral to many baseball fans. There are few sights more pleasing than the marquis board in front and the wide open outfield view of Wrigleyville as one walks into the stands. The atmosphere, the history, the ivy and the bleacher bums can be overwhelming. It wouldn't be a list of great ballparks if Wrigley Field was not on it.
Roger Weber is the webmaster of SportParks, the home for research, journalism, stats, trivia, news, views, random information, reviews and art centered around sports and stadia.