Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey

MLB Ballpark Experience Rankings

The Stadium Journey staff fanned out to all 30 MLB ballparks to establish this year’s rankings. Each stadium was evaluated based on our FANFARE scale which includes 1) an assessment of food and beverage offerings 2) the overall atmosphere 3) the neighborhood where the stadium is located 4) the fans 5) the access (includes traffic, parking, restrooms, handicapped accessibility and ease of flow on concourses within the park) 6) the overall return on investment and 7) any unique features.

#1 Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

While the Orioles have not gone to the World Series in recent years, they seem to have a stranglehold on first place in the view of Stadium Journey’s staff and fans. This marks the third straight year that we have named Camden Yards as the Best Ballpark Experience in MLB. So what is the secret to the Orioles success? They knew how to build a ballpark unlike any other stadium at the time. Instead of tearing down the surrounding neighborhood, they embraced it and incorporated it into the stadium design. In the years since Camden Yards was built the Orioles have concentrated on every element of the fan experience by constantly upgrading the concession offerings, creating special promotions celebrating the diversity of Baltimore’s population and making customer service the first priority for its game day staff. Other elements that kept the Orioles rating at the top are the extras surrounding the park, as both Babe Ruth’s childhood home and the Inner Harbor entertainment and restaurant district are within walking distance of the park. Accessibility is another factor that rated highly with both our reviewers and the fans who submitted opinions on the MLB parks.

#2 St Louis Cardinals, Busch Stadium

St. Louis has long been regarded as one of the best baseball towns in America. It hosted two major league clubs for much of the 20th century in a market much smaller than Chicago or New York. Watching a baseball game at Busch Stadium will leave you with great memories, no matter what team you root for. You will find many nods to the past, with statues of Ozzie Smith, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson and others fronting the stadium, but also a look to towards the future. The Cardinals have set the standard for a baseball themed district outside the stadium walls in the form of Ballpark Village. Now any new stadiums being constructed are looking to include similar developments in their plans.

#3 Pittsburgh Pirates, PNC Park

A trip to PNC Park is a must for any baseball fan. The food selection is the gold standard among concession offerings through the major leagues. The stadium offers a very picturesque setting for a ball game as it provides stunning views of the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh. Pirate greats Roberto Clemente, Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski and Willie Stargell are immortalized in statues on the four corners of the stadium.

#4 San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park

AT&T Park’s setting is as spectacular as any venue for any sport. The cozy 42,000 seat baseball cathedral is nestled up against San Francisco Bay amidst a newly gentrified area of the city. For all its beauty, it is also a vast improvement over its predecessor, Candlestick Park, which was infamous for its playing conditions. The Giants and their fans still have a meaningful way to remember the team’s heritage, as statues of Willie Mays, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey are found at the entrances to AT&T Park.

#5 Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field

What a difference winning makes. The Cavaliers win the NBA crown and now the Indians have gone deep into postseason play. The fans are enjoying a gigantic new HD scoreboard, between innings entertainment and some of the lowest ticket prices in the major leagues.

#6 Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park

The Boston Red Sox bill Fenway Park as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,” and they may be right. With its numerous quirky angles, the Green Monster and other unique features, Fenway is often imitated, but never duplicated. Management has not allowed the more than 100 year old park to go stale, as they have invested more than $300 million to keep it modern and ensure its viability into the next century. In an era where cities are building new stadiums to replace parks that are less than 25 years old, it is refreshing to see a classic park not only being used, but thriving in the 21st century..

#7 Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium

After going to the World Series for the past two seasons, Kauffman Stadium is once again drawing lots of attention. This baseball specific park is known for its fountains of water behind the outfield wall, as well as its huge Crown Vision scoreboard. Another element of interest in the stadium is the Royals Hall of Fame in the left field concourse. While in town for a game, Kansas City has two bucket list activities for baseball fans and foodies. The Negro League Baseball Museum and some of KC’s finest ribs restaurants are just a few miles from Kauffman Stadium.

#8 Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park

Affectionately known as “The Juice Box,” Minute Maid Park combines the old world aesthetics of the Union Station railroad lobby with all the bells and whistles of a ballpark in America’s Space City. Its retractable roof provides a very comfortable viewing environment during Houston’s hot and muggy summers. The old and the new are woven seamlessly together, as you enter through a century old railroad station into a very modern athletic facility. Tying the two together is a railroad engine and coal (in this case Minute Maid oranges) car which sits above the left field wall and runs down the track when the Astros win or a Houston player hits a home run.

#9 Cincinnati Reds, Great American Ball Park

Cincinnati has always been a great baseball town and Great American Ball Park continues that tradition. Artifacts from the Reds past are on view at the Crosley Field Tribute as well as the outstanding Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. The stadium continues its old time feel with the twin riverboat smokestacks in center field, which shoot off fireworks when a Reds player hits a home run.

#10 Colorado Rockies, Coors Field

Though it is now the third oldest National League ballpark, Coors Field continues to evolve to provide both Rockies fans and visitors a memorable fan experience. The Rooftop is a great example of this. The two story party area in the upper deck offers tremendous views of the field, but also provides dramatic views of downtown Denver and the Front Range. Before or after the game you can enjoy the Lodo entertainment district just outside the gates of Coors Field. This area is home to some great restaurants and clubs, as well as the National Baseball Park Museum, a bucket list site for any baseball fan. Attending a game at Coors Field will truly provide you with a Rocky Mountain high.

#11 San Diego Padres, Petco Park

The home of the Padres has made a number of changes to enhance fan enjoyment in the last couple of seasons. These include a new high definition video board, new viewing areas in the outfield, an interactive display of retired Padres numbers on the home plate plaza, and gigantic murals depicting Padre greats along the concourses. One other popular addition is the Waterfront at the Pier, a bi-level party deck for group outings to the park.

#12 Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field

A season that started with a lot of grumbling from baseball traditionalists about renovations to the 101 year old stadium has been forgotten as the Cubs had one of their most successful seasons ever and the best record in the majors. Many of the upgrades were of structural necessity, but others were to greatly enhance the fan experience. Some of the new amenities include video boards to show replays or highlights from other games, relocating the bullpens to behind the outfield walls and greatly improved concession areas. Wrigley Field is in a category of its own, and rich traditions such as the ivy covered walls and the hand operated scoreboard were carefully preserved during the renovations.

#13 Detroit Tigers, Comerica Park

Comerica Park provides a great baseball atmosphere for fans of all ages. Everyone enjoys the ever-present tiger elements built into both the interior and exterior of the park. Older fans can enjoy the great history of the Detroit Tigers by visiting the statues of the Motor City’s immortals along the outfield plaza. The younger set can enjoy a ride on the all-tiger carousel found in Big Cat Court. You’ll definitely leave Comerica Park with a tiger tale to tell.

#14 Los Angeles Dodgers, Dodger Stadium

The third oldest stadium in MLB, Dodger Stadium is neither classic nor retro. It is uniquely LA. You will frequently see television and movie stars enjoying the game along with the crowd. The classic Dodger Blue uniforms have never changed since the team’s arrival in 1963. Its location in Chavez Ravine means that you typically enter at the top of the stadium and go down to your seats, a very unique feature. The 2016 season was memorable for two reasons; the team’s advancement to the playoffs and the retirement of Dodger broadcasting legend and Baseball Hall of Fame member Vin Scully after a 62 year career.

#15 New York Mets, Citi Field

Citi Field is a physical celebration of New York City baseball. Its outer façade suggests the architecture of old Ebbets Field, the Jackie Robinson Rotunda salutes a Brooklyn baseball immortal, and the Big Apple still resides in center field to salute Mets victories and home runs. Fans can further enjoy the history of the team in the Mets Museum, which covers everything from the days of Casey Stengel to the Miracle Mets of 1969 to the 2015 World Series.

#16 Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field

Safeco Field does the little things well. It keeps fans dry on the frequent rainy days with its retractable roof and on sunny days provides beautiful views of the Puget Sound when the roof is open. The Mariners Hall of Fame salutes many of the team’s elite players such as Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr along the concourse behind home plate. Artists have contributed baseball themed art throughout the ballpark, enhancing the fan experience. The food concessions provide a unique menu of Pacific Northwest delicacies such as salmon and Dungeness crab.

#17 Washington Nationals, Nationals Park

Nationals Park is a beautiful, modern facility with lots of fan amenities. Some of the best touches are the décor and frequent signage depicting the history of baseball in the nation’s capital, including both the Nationals and the Senators. The exterior and interior of the park feature in-motion statues of former players and baseball-themed artwork. Nationals Park is also famous for its Presidential Race, a between innings sprint featuring likenesses of presidents such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover. This race is even more rough and tumble than the actual 2016 presidential campaign, as the competitors are known to push, shove and trip each other in order to win the race.

#18 Minnesota Twins, Target Field

Target Field is the first baseball only stadium the Twins have enjoyed since moving to the Twin Cities in 1961. It is an interactive park, with trivia games on the scoreboard, dance competitions between innings and a chance to score a t-shirt during the T Shirt Toss. Like Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium, Target Field truly captures the unique feeling of a Mid-America baseball facility.

#19 Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Field

Chase Field is the only ballpark the Arizona Diamondbacks have known, and it serves its fans well. The retractable roof provides shelter from the sweltering sun and temperatures found in the Valley of the Sun, and if that is not enough, there is a swimming pool located just beyond the outfield wall. Arizona has adapted the mascot race found in most ballparks by having likenesses of Diamondback greats Randy Johnson, Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez, and Matt Williams as the contestants. Arizona also scores well as having one of the most affordable tickets in the MLB.

#20 Philadelphia Phillies, Citizens Bank Park

The Philadelphia Phillies are the oldest continuous, single-name, one-city franchise in all of professional sports. This seems fitting, as Philadelphia is a city rich in American history. However the Citizens Bank Park experience offers many modern amenities including a Liberty Bell that lights up when the Phillies score, the Ashburn Alley entertainment area and the crazy antics of the Phillie Phanatic, one of the most entertaining mascots in baseball.

#21 Texas Rangers, Globe Life Park in Arlington

Like everything in Texas, Globe Life Park is just bigger. Its 48,114 seating capacity is tops in MLB. This larger than life theme carries over into the concession offerings, where you can choose from The Broomstick, the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Dog or the Choomongus, and more Texas BBQ than you can get your mouth around. For entertainment, you have the Ranger Six Shooters dance squad on top of the dugouts between innings, and the Rangers Hall of Fame to visit either before or after the game.

#22 Los Angeles Angels, Angel Stadium

Known locally as the Big A, Angel Stadium contains a number of unique features. It is hard to miss the main entrance, as there are two huge Angel baseball caps bordering it. The center field waterfall feature is another aspect not found in most parks. Love him or hate him, the rally monkey is still around, though he appears in an updated fashion. One other consideration to fans considering making a long weekend to games at the Big A is its close proximity to Disneyland.

#23 Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park

Milwaukee has a great baseball history and Miller Park salutes Brewer and Milwaukee Braves greats through a series of statues placed around the park.  These notables include players Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, broadcaster Bob Uecker and former MLB commissioner Bud Selig. Miller Park also provides uniquely Milwaukee-style entertainment for the fans, including the world famous sausage race and the playing of the tune “Roll Out the Barrel” during its 7th inning stretch.

#24 Toronto Blue Jays, Rogers Centre

The only MLB stadium located north of the border has a distinctly Canadian flair in its concession offerings. Fans can sample the brisket, sausage or Buffalo cauliflower poutine. Other menu items include a peameal bacon sausage sandwich, meatloaf burgers or a porchetta sandwich. The Blue Jays have seen a spike in attendance due to two straight appearances in the playoffs after a long drought.

#25 Chicago White Sox, U.S. Cellular Field

The White Sox made some major updates to U.S. Cellular Field for the 2016 season. Three new state of the art HD video screens were installed to keep fans more informed on the game and show highlights from around the league. Amongst the concession items on the menu are hot pressed Cuban sandwiches, plump tamales and several Asian inspired dishes including steamed buns filled with teriyaki, Mongolian beef and vegetables. The Sox continue to have one of the best pre-game tailgating environment in the majors, second perhaps only with Milwaukee.

#26 Miami Marlins, Marlins Park

The most futuristic park in the majors occupies the former site of the Orange Bowl in Miami. It has a distinctly Latin vibe, from the concessions it offers, to the music played between innings and multiple special promotions. It also has an artistic flair, with a vibrant art sculpture rising behind the outfield wall when the Marlins hit a home run, a very unique bobblehead museum, and other pieces of baseball themed art and a backstop aquarium. Marlins Park draws a great deal of fans from outside the Miami area, as many “snowbirds” from the northern climates spend months enjoying Miami’s tropical climate. The park is also a magnet for ballpark chasers as it is the newest stadium in the majors (at least until 2017).

#27 Atlanta Braves, Turner Field

The 2016 season marked the final season of “The Ted” serving as the home of the Braves after 20 seasons. The team held a season long series of remembrances of stars and great games that were played in the former Centennial Olympic Stadium. Once the decision was made to move to a new stadium located in the North Atlanta suburbs, the focus was on saluting the past rather than adding new features at Turner Field. Fittingly, Braves legend Hank Aaron was on hand to close out baseball at Turner Field, just as he was present when the Braves moved into Turner Field from the old Atlanta- Fulton County Stadium in 1997.

#28 Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field is probably the only MLB stadium in use that was built on a speculative basis. Built in 1991, it sat virtually empty for eight years until the Tampa Rays began as an expansion team in 1998. Unfortunately technology and stadium design made great strides forward during that period, rendering many of Tropicana Field’s features obsolete. The Rays management has made some helpful upgrades to improve the fan experience, including the Hitters Hall of Fame and the ray tank in center field. There has been discussion of building a new stadium in another city nearby or relocating the franchise to another location in country in recent years due to low attendance.

#29 New York Yankees, Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium houses one of the sport’s most iconic franchises in the league’s biggest market. The baseball reality is that this in fact is not “The House That Ruth Built” and the Yankees have not been to the World Series since 2009. The retirement of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter in recent years have left the team without a true superstar. What the present Yankee Stadium does have is great tradition. It has perhaps the most impressive baseball museum outside of Cooperstown. It also offers Monument Park, a one of a kind salute to the Yankee greats of the past.

#30 Oakland Athletics, Oakland Alameda Coliseum

The Oakland Coliseum has served as the home of the Oakland Athletics for 48 years. In that period of time, it has become the last of the dual sport stadiums, as it also serves as the Oakland Raiders home field. This results in a massive amount of foul territory, with fans in the front rows sitting further away than any other stadium in the league. It also lacks many of the amenities found in many of the newer stadiums. On the positive side, the Athletics have a very loyal fan base and the team is typically very competitive in the AL West. It is likely that if legal and territorial issues can someday be worked out, the A’s will relocate to another site in the Greater Bay Area.


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