Our Best of the Ballparks contest continues today with the second round of voting in Triple-A facilities, as fans select the best of the Pacific Coast League and International League.
The first round stayed mostly closely to our seedings, but there were a few interesting upsets from our rankings. The first big upset: fans selected McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, over Greater Nevada Field, home of the Reno Aces. After a tumultuous year or two that saw new ownership openly seeking a new home for PawSox, it’s probably no surprise that PawSox fans — many of whom we hear from on a regular basis — are standing up for their ballpark. The second big upset (which perhaps isn’t an upset, given the overall quality of Triple-A ballparks): fans chose Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, over Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express. And the third upset (again, perhaps not an upset): fans chose Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers) over Werner Park (home of the Omaha Storm Chasers).
So here we are at the second round of voting. There are some great matchups, including one that’s a major triumph of naming rights: Coca-Cola Park (Lehigh Valley IronPigs) vs. Coca-Cola Field (Buffalo Bisons). It’s the real thing.
We’ll be running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. The first round will be a play-in (thanks for the inspiration, NCAA!), followed by additional rounds before winners are announced at the end of June and early July. For MiLB, we’ll be structuring the voting by classification, so the competition is broken down into Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A. Next month we’ll launch short season A and rookie-league voting, as well as summer-collegiate and independent leagues. And, of course, the MLB parks stand on their own.
We know from marketing stats a third of our readers work in the baseball industry, so we’re tapping into that collective expertise. And we know from our research that a third of our readers sell to the baseball industry, so that expertise will be valuable as well. The remaining third — fans, media, government — will certainly have a different view on things as well. We can’t wait to see what our readers — whom we consider to be the smartest folks in baseball — say about the best of the ballparks.
Some notes on the voting. First, votes are filtered by IP address, so we’re limiting folks to one vote. (Feel free to hit that reload as many times as you want, but multiple votes will be filtered out of the final tally.) Second, you don’t need to fill out a full slate: partially filled votes will count. Third: desktop users will see all 14 choices; tablet and smartphone users will see one choice at a time. Here’s the entry form:
Voting for this round has ended.
Here’s our ranking of Triple-A ballparks, combining International League and Pacific Coast League facilities. This was an extremely difficult list to seed and took several days of thought and deliberation. Occupying the top spot is Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks 2015 voting. This is the top level of Minor League Baseball and the top set of MiLB ballparks, and there’s not a whole lot of difference between the ballparks in the middle of this list; the rankings are a gentle guide, to be sure:
1. Huntington Park (Columbus Clippers; IL)
2. Coca-Cola Park (Lehigh Valley IronPigs; IL)
3. BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte Knights; IL)
4. First Tennessee Park (Nashville Sounds; PCL)
5. Durham Bulls Athletic Park (Durham Bulls; IL)
6. Southwest University Park (El Paso Chihuahuas; PCL)
7. Fifth Third Field (Toledo Mud Hens; IL)
8. AutoZone Park (Memphis Redbirds; PCL)
9. Greater Nevada Field (Reno Aces; PCL)
10. Victory Field (Indianapolis Indians; IL)
11. Isotopes Park (Albuquerque Isotopes; PCL)
12. Dell Diamond (Round Rock Express; PCL)
13. Werner Park (Omaha Storm Chasers; PCL)
14. Frontier Field (Rochester Red Wings; IL)
15. Coca-Cola Field (Buffalo Bison; IL)
16. PNC Field (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; IL)
17. Raley Field (Sacramento River Cats; PCL)
18. Cheney Stadium (Tacoma Rainiers; PCL)
19. Smith’s Ballpark (Salt Lake Bees; PCL)
20. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Oklahoma City Dodgers; PCL)
21. Louisville Slugger Field (Louisville Bats; IL)
22. Principal Park (Iowa Cubs; PCL)
23. Chukchansi Park (Fresno Grizzlies; PCL)
24. McCoy Stadium (Pawtucket Red Sox; IL)
25. Harbor Park (Norfolk Tides; IL)
26. Coolray Field (Gwinnett Braves; IL)
27. Zephyr Field (New Orleans Zephyrs; PCL)
28. NBT Bank Stadium (Syracuse Chiefs; IL)
29. Security Service Field (Colorado Springs Sky Sox; PCL)
30. Cashman Field (Las Vegas 51s; PCL)
Here are the brackets: