This was a banner year for new ballparks in the minor and major leagues. But at the end of the day, there was one new facility that stood head and shoulders above the rest: Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers. Indeed, Huntington Park is one of the best ballparks to open in recent years, and because of its many outstanding qualities we’ve named it New Ballpark of the Year in the 2009 Ballpark Digest Awards.
In a year that saw many noteworthy ballpark openings within the baseball world, it would take something truly special to stand out from the crowd. That something special happened in Columbus, where Huntington Park opened as the home of the International League’s Columbus Clippers. Combining solid community support with a classic design where every little detail was carefully considered and implemented, Huntington Park became one of the leading ballparks in baseball the day it opened — and that’s why it was named Best New Ballpark of the 2009 Season by the editors of Ballpark Digest.
“We instantly recognized what a great facility the Clippers have,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher of ballparkdigest.com, the Internet’s leading resource on the culture and business of baseball. “It’s an extremely fan-friendly facility that provides fans with a first-class experience, whether they’re sitting in the loge seats behind home plate or in the upper-deck balcony in right field. Every detail associated with the ballpark was exquisitely realized.”
There are a lot of cool things at Huntington Park, which comes as close to perfection as we’ve seen in any ballpark. With an embedded sense of place, a firm grasp on the grand history of baseball and a commitment to the latest in fan comforts, Huntington Park represents the very finest in ballpark design and operations. While there are some new ballparks that come very close, there are none better.
The new ballpark, designed by 360 Architecture (Kansas City) and funded by Franklin County, helped the bottom line of the Clippers: the team was the best draw in all of Minor League Baseball, attracting 666,797 fans (for an average of 9,525 per game) in the 2009 season.
“This past season was a rough one for many baseball teams,” Reichard said. “Most would have been happy attracting the same number of fans as they did in previous years. A new ballpark certainly helps bring in new fans, and we’re guessing the place will have them coming back for more year after year.”
“We are honored and humbled to receive this award from Ballpark Digest celebrating the arrival of Huntington Park as their 2009 Ballpark of the Year,” said Columbus Clippers President & GM Ken Schnacke. “This project was a labor of love for all involved, and our highest ambitions have been achieved with all the recognition that Huntington Park has received throughout the season.”
As noted before, there are several other ballparks worthy of attention as new ballpark of the year, as indicated in this Honorable Mention list:
- In almost any other year Parkview Field, the home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, would have received the nod as New Ballpark of the Year. It is an exceptional facility, a great urban ballpark that provides a great fan experience and possessing the personal touches everyone loves.
- Bowling Green Ballpark, the home of the Bowling Green Hot Rods, adds a ton of character to the downtown Kentucky city; the emphasis there is on the fan experience as well, and it succeeds.
- The new Yankee Stadium (watch for our story soon) either inspires love or hate. Either way, it’s a notable addition to the MLB ballpark ranks.
- Lost in the shuffle of new ballparks was Reno’s Aces Ballpark, another noteworthy urban facility. We liked the combination of the old and the new in the facility; it’s a facility built for watching the action from several different viewpoints.
- We already ran down the virtues of Camelback Ranch-Glendale in our Editor’s Choice citation.
Ballpark Digest Awards are chosen by the editors of the website following nominations from teams and fans alike. Last year’s Ballparks of the Year were Coca-Cola Park and QuikTrip Park at Grand Prairie.
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