Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baseball Debate: Stadium Edition (Part 2)

(Click Here for Part One)

After yesterday's overview about the current state of baseball stadiums--and some basic data from our friends at Stadium Journey--we really haven't settled any debate yet about who's got the best stadium. So now we're left with 30 stadiums, each with their own merits and drawbacks, their own idiosyncrasies that make them what they are. There's the Green Monster out in Fenway's left field, the home run balls flying into McCovey's Cove in San Francisco, and even that weird hill that Houston decided to build in the middle of center field, flagpole and everything.

But how can you even attempt to quantify something as subjective as a stadium? It's not easy, and as good a job as the folks at Stadium Journey do, it's still not easy to take one person's review of a stadium as the end game for stadium ratings. So, keep in mind that the data we used is flawed, but that's what makes it fun to add to the debate--if you think about it, the majority of basic statistics are flawed in some way (a 30-point night sounds nice until you find out the guy took 45 shots to do it), but the important thing is that they have given us some sort of quantifiable data to work with it. And that's what we do best. So, to see how well (or poorly) your stadium did, hit the jump!

In South Florida, this is called a "sellout"
So, there are quite a few good stadiums--as we said yesterday, a solid 14 out of 30 stadiums ranked at a 4.0 or higher. Instead, we'll start off with the ones that rated the worst overall: the Florida Marlins (2.0), Washington Nationals (2.4), Oakland Athletics (2.7), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2.9), the only three stadiums rated under a 3.0. The inclusion of Land Shark/Dolphin Stadium/Sun Life Stadium should be a surprise to approximately nobody, as buying a ticket to a Marlins game basically guarantees you an entire section. Los Angeles and Oakland both have older stadiums, with Dodger Stadium about to celebrate its 50th year and Oakland County Coliseum turning 45, and both suffer from lack of any standout categories and a "1" rating in their Neighborhood section. If any of the fans in Los Angeles or the Bay Area would like to contest that their stadiums are amongst the top places to see a game in Major League Baseball, I suggest they begin traveling, or seeing someone. The Nationals, well, that's interesting because the stadium is only two years old. They struggle, however, from a fan base that doesn't seem to care (not that they've had much to cheer about in the few years since the team moved in from Montreal), in addition to the stadium being trapped between the river and the Naval Yard. At least Washington has the ability to move up the rankings in a few years, unlike the other two.

Now, there are quite a few stadiums that score between 3.0-4.4: quite a large range, yes, but we do that to account for uneven reporting. Reviewers gave stadiums in New York and Houston grades of "0" on their Extras section, which is very hard to quantify if you read some of the results, and those stadiums would have been a few slots higher if they had bothered to throw them a point or two. The fact is, since Camden Yards opened in 1992, 19 other MLB teams have opened new stadiums of their own. So it's to be expected that the majority of stadiums would grade out at least fairly well. Either way, all the stadiums in this area are solid, but not spectacular places to go see a ball game. I'm not going to name them all here, but they're stadiums like the White Sox's US Cellular Field (3.6), Seattle's Safeco Field (3.7), and Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park (4.1). San Diego and San Francisco both missed out, scoring at a 4.4--but all of those listed are high-quality places to see a game.

Could this be the best baseball stadium in America?
Now we get to the top 4: The only four stadiums to score at a 4.6 or higher (no stadium scored at a 4.5). These are the best of the best--all built since 1992, it's clear that fans are really getting into some of the new ballparks, as long as they're designed with the past in mind. The newest is Minnesota's Target Field (4.6 overall), in which no category was rated at lower than a four. Target's tied with Texas's Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Atlanta's Turner Field, both home to huge loyal fanbases in stadiums that offer great services as well as the punch that comes with 50,000 loud fans. There was only one stadium, however, that scored at a 4.7--a fitting stadium to top our list. Baltimore's Camden Yards was the first of these retro-modern stadiums, and it still serves as a great place to see a ballgame. In fact, Camden Yards scored at a perfect 5 in every category, except "Extras." But is it the best? Let the debate begin!


  1. I've been to almost every current park in the majors, and 6 former parks, and I think that the Twins' new Target Field absolutely belongs at the top, as does Camden Yard.

    The inclusion of the Rangers and the Braves is dubious, especially considering how notrious fair weather the Braves fans tend to be.

    My personal top 5?
    1. Target Field
    2. Fenway Park
    3. Wrigley Field
    4. Camden Yard
    5. AT&T Park

  2. I think of all the stadiums I've been to, Camden is right up there with the best. I'm obviously partial to Citizens Bank Park, and while I do wish the neighborhood around there was better (which brought the rating down), that's not as important to me because it's fairly local. I've been to the Ballpark at Arlington on a cold April night, when they weren't very good, and it was still packed and I don't know about that. I'd have to go back, it's been quite a few years.

  3. Glad to see Turner Field in the top few. It's well deserved as this is a great place to catch a ballgame.

    StadiumJourney, I've no idea why you took the opportunity to dis Braves fans (the article is about stadiums), but if you care to research attendance statistics, you'll find that the Braves have had consistent attendance for 20 years and that it has been steadily increasing the past few. Hardly fair-weather.

  4. @03f9... I don't think the trouble with Braves fans is the attendance so much as the overall effect and energy. Fans are a big part of the stadium experience so they are definitely in play. Honestly, I don't even think that Braves fans are bad, they just don't deserve to be in such high esteem as shown here.