Upsets ruled the day in this week’s Best of the Ballparks 2016 voting for Double-A facilities, as lower seeds won half of the fan choices in Eastern, Southern and Texas League facilities, yielding a fascinating eight ballparks in the next round of voting.
Four lower seeds — Canal Park (Akron RubberDucks home), Hadlock Field (Portland Sea Dogs home), MGM Park (Biloxi Shuckers home) and Riverwalk Stadium (Montgomery Biscuits home) — were all voted through by fans. This leads to some really interesting choices in this round of the Elite Eight, including a regional competition between Biloxi and Pensacola ballparks. Three of the four battles are between teams in the same league, ensuring that each Double-A league will have a team in the next round of four. You can see the current state of the brackets in the graphic at the bottom of this article.
So we’re down to the next round of eight, and we want your vote. We’re 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 four choices; tablet and smartphone users will see one choice at a time. You can vote here:
Voting for this round has ended.
Here’s our ranking of Double-A ballparks, combining Eastern, Southern and Texas League ballparks. This was an extremely difficult list to seed and took several days of thought and deliberation. Occupying the top spot is Regions Field, home of the Birmingham Barons, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks 2015 voting. We honestly don’t expect the voting to follow our seedings: our readers can be independent, and they share a love of ballparks and the fan experience.
1. Regions Field (Birmingham Barons; SL)
2. Pensacola Bayfront Stadium (Pensacola Blue Wahoos; SL)
3. Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco RoughRiders; TL)
4. FirstEnergy Stadium (Reading Fightin Phils; EL)
5. Smokies Park (Tennessee Smokies; SL)
6. Dickey-Stephens Park (Arkansas Travelers; TL)
7. Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi Hooks; TL)
8. ONEOK Field (Tulsa Drillers; TL)
9. ARM & HAMMER Park (Trenton Thunder; EL)
10. Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville (Jacksonville Suns; SL)
11. Riverwalk Stadium (Montgomery Biscuits; SL)
12. Hadlock Field (Portland Sea Dogs; EL)
13. Canal Park (Akron RubberDucks; EL)
14. FNB Field (Harrisburg Senators; EL)
15. Hammons Field (Springfield Cardinals; TL)
16. Northeast Delta Dental Stadium (New Hampshire Fisher Cats; EL)
17. Arvest Ballpark (Northwest Arkansas Naturals; TL)
18. Trustmark Park (Mississippi Braves; SL)
19. Peoples Natural Gas Field (Altoona Curve; EL)
20. Security Bank Ballpark (Midland RockHounds; TL)
21. The Diamond (Richmond Flying Squirrels; EL)
22. The Ballpark at Jackson (Jackson Generals; SL)
23. MGM Park (Biloxi Shuckers; SL)
24. AT&T Field (Chattanooga Lookouts; SL)
25. Prince George’s Stadium (Bowie Baysox; EL)
26. Wolff Stadium (San Antonio Missions; TL)
27. Jerry Uht Park (Erie SeaWolves; EL)
28. Henry Aaron Stadium (Mobile BayBears)
29. NYSEG Stadium (Binghamton Mets; EL)
30. Dunkin’ Donuts Park (Hartford Yard Goats; EL)*
* This ballpark has not opened. This ranking has nothing to do with the merits of the ballpark; it’s merely a reflection on the current status of Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Here are the brackets:
Click on the image for a larger version.