And then there two, as fans chose a classic MiLB ballpark where Ty Cobb once played and a newer state-of-the-art facility to pair off in the final round of voting for Best of the Ballparks 2016 in Low-A affiliated ball.
The two finalists: McCormick Field, home of the Asheville Tourists (Sally League) vs. Parkview Field, home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Midwest League). McCormick Field won by a very narrow margin — two votes out of 5,938 cast — over Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. (Yes, we went through the results several times to ensure an accurate result.) In the other bracket, the matchup of two Hardball Capital ballparks wasn’t as close, as
The contrast between the two facilities couldn’t be more striking. McCormick Field opened in 1924 with an exhibition game featuring Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers facing off in exhibition action against the Asheville Skylanders. The field is the same as the one Cobb played on, but the ballpark was upgraded in 1991 when a concrete grandstand replaced the wooden one. Parkview Field, on the other hand, opened in 2009 as home to the TinCaps, and it’s state of the art in Minor League Baseball. With multiple seating areas, a vast array of concessions options and a convenient downtown location, Parkview Field is both an aesthetic success and proof that a downtown sports facility can drive additional investment.
So you know what to do: Vote! As we saw in the Ashville/West Michigan matchup, every vote counts.
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.
Remember: 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.)
Voting for this round has ended.
Here’s our ranking of Low-A ballparks, combining Midwest League and South Atlantic League facilities. This was an extremely difficult list to seed and took several days of thought and deliberation. Occupying the top spot is Modern Woodmen Park, home of the Quad Cities River Bandits, 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. There were several surprises in last year’s competition; we expect some this year as well.
1. Modern Woodmen Park (Quad Cities River Bandits; ML)
2. Parkview Field (Fort Wayne TinCaps; ML)
3. Spirit Communications Park (Columbia Fireflies; SAL)
4. Fluor Field (Greenvile Drive; SAL)
5. NewBridge Bank Park (Greensboro Grasshoppers; SAL)
6. Fifth Third Field (Dayton Dragons; ML)
7. Four Winds Field (South Bend Cubs; ML)
8. Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park (Charleston RiverDogs; SAL)
9. McCormick Field (Asheville Tourists; SAL)
10. Fox Cities Stadium (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers; ML)
11. Dow Diamond (Great Lakes Loons; ML)
12. Fifth Third Ballpark (West Michigan Whitecaps; ML)
13. FirstEnergy Park (Lakewood Blueclaws; SAL)
14. Cooley Law School Stadium (Lansing Lugnuts; ML)
15. Whitaker Bank Ballpark (Lexington Legends; SAL)
16. Appalachian Power Park (West Virginia Power; SAL)
17. Perfect Game Field (Cedar Rapids Kernels; ML)
18. L.P. Frans Stadium (Hickory Crawdads; SAL)
19. Bowling Green Ballpark (Bowling Green Hot Rods; ML)
20. Fifth Third Bank Ballpark (Kane County Cougars; ML)
21. Classic Park (Lake County Captains; ML)
22. State Mutual Stadium (Rome Braves; SAL)
23. Perdue Stadium (Delmarva Shorebirds; SAL)
24. Dozer Park (Peoria Chiefs; ML)
25. Intimidators Stadium (Kannapolis Intimidators; SAL)
26. Lake Olmstead Stadium (Augusta GreenJackets; SAL)
27. Community Field (Burlington Bees; ML)
26. Ashford University Field (Clinton LumberKings; ML)
29. Municipal Stadium (Hagerstown Suns; SAL)
30. Pohlman Field (Beloit Snappers; ML)
Here are the brackets:
Click on the image for a larger version.