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Best of the Ballparks MLB Rankings

PNC Park

What are the best MLB ballparks? We rank them from top to bottom in our annual Best of the Ballparks MLB rankings.

Everyone has a favorite ballpark, whether it be the site of one’s first MLB game, home to a memorable moment, or the hometown favorite where we’ve spent the most time over the years. In this list, we’re taking a step back and ranking the MLB ballparks from top to bottom. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our choices, and later today you’ll have the chance to register your agreement or disagreement when we launch the Best of the Ballparks 2018 vote.

One thing to note here. We’ve broken down this list into three subcategories. The top seven MLB ballparks are in a league of their own, and one could argue that any of the seven could be deemed the best in all of baseball: really, there’s not much sunlight between PNC Park and Dodger Stadium when you look at factors like fan amenities, architectural distinction, and history. The next 17 ballparks are all very good ballparks, but they don’t measure up to being the best in MLB. (If your favorite is in this group, more power to you, and we hope you enjoy the ballpark experience.) And the bottom six ballparks are either slated for replacement or acknowledged by teams as needing some TLC.

This isn’t the result of a formal grading system, but rather recommendations based on years of attending games, seeing how the ballparks function behind the scenes (we have seen plenty of ballpark cisterns in the past while on visits), how these ballparks have made an impact in their communities, and noting how ballparks are regarded within the industry. One of the reasons we love working in baseball is that many industry folks, including many on the player side, are ballpark geeks, and we think this list reflects broad sentiment among those who know ballparks best. (For another look at how the industry views ballparks, check out our ranking of MLB organizations by MiLB, spring-training and player-development facilities here.) And when it comes to generating urban renewal, several of the ballparks here have a documented role in upgrading surrounding neighborhoods. Let’s get right to it.

Best of the Best

 1 PNC Park A past winner in the fan vote for Best of the Ballparks, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates is a beloved facility that combines the perfect site, lots of architectural distinction, and many memorable fan amenities that are upgraded annually. There are plenty of reminders of the rich history of the Bucs, and walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge on a game day is a memorable experience for Pirates fans. Add to that the above-average concessions, virtually perfect sightlines and a commitment from the team to perform annual upgrades, and you have our pick for the best ballpark in baseball.

2 AT&T Park Could there be any better location for baseball in San Francisco than a waterfront site used to great advantage by the ballpark architects? The views from the grandstand and outfield concourse of San Francisco and the Bay are tremendous, and walking around the ballpark is a delight. The Giants’ rich history, as well as San Francisco’s PCL history, is memorialized in and outside of the ballpark. It’s also the most transit-friendly ballpark in the majors, accessible via car, train, bus, bike, boat and ridesharing. This is the ballpark that originally gave us garlic fries and it still offers a distinctive food program.

3 Wrigley Field The second-oldest ballpark in the majors is also turning into one of the newest ones, as the Cubs are in the last stretches of a $500-million modernization plan that upgraded fan experiences and player facilities. Opening as Weeghman Park in 1914 as the home of the Chi-Feds, Wrigley Field has been altered over the years—the grandstand was split apart and expanded in 1923, a second deck was added in 1926-1927, and the legendary bleachers were rebuilt in 2005-2006—but even with all the changes, you get the sense that the ballpark, for the most part, remains true to architect Zachary Taylor Davis’s original vision. Today there’s something for everyone at Wrigley Field: a private club for high rollers, grandstand seating close to the action, and outfield bleachers for those more interested in a social scene than a baseball game. More social and open spaces are on the way in Wrigley Field, set to debut either at the end of this season or 2019.

4 Fenway Park The oldest ballpark in the majors, Fenway Park still retains a high amount of old-time charm. We all focus on the areas that have been updated in the past decade—the Green Monster seating, the right-field corner seating, the renovated center-field food area—but there’s lots to Fenway Park that’s authentically vintage, and it’s those areas we love. Yes, the concourses are cramped, the seats are ill-designed for the modern posterior, and parking is a nightmare. Having said that, a game at Fenway Park is an essential baseball experience and should be on every fan’s bucket list.

5 Target Field Walt Disney once said that Disneyland would never be completed, as it would grow and change as long as there is imagination left in the world. And while Target Field is hardly Disneyesque, the Minnesota Twins do show the inclination to make annual upgrades to the ballpark. This year saw the major conversion of a private dining space for season-ticket holders to a public social space—a sports bar on steroids to enhance the ballpark experience. Add in plenty of Minnesota connections on the food and beverage front, great sightlines, plenty of discrete seating areas for all kinds of fans, and an abundance of spots just for standing around to watch a ballgame, and you have a pretty good blueprint for new and renovated ballparks of all kinds.

6 Dodger Stadium There’s only one mid-century modern ballpark left in Major League Baseball, and it’s wholly appropriate that it be in Los Angeles. In the late 1950s and 1960s, California was repository of the new; while the East Coast was old and decaying, California—and especially Los Angeles, the center of the entertainment industry—was positioned as the new. And that especially applied to Dodger Stadium, the most modern facility in baseball when it opened in 1962. (That didn’t last long: the Astrodome shattered the notion of the new when opening in 1965.) Dodger Stadium was well-loved during the O’Malley era, a situation restored under the present Guggenheim Partners regime. Janet Marie Smith oversaw Dodger Stadium renovations that restored the charm of the original while adding modern touches like upgraded concessions, group areas and social spaces.

SunTrust Park

7 SunTrust Park Critics said putting a ballpark in the midst of a busy Cobb County suburban location wouldn’t work. But the Atlanta Braves had a smash success in a 2017 debut and spent the beginning of 2018 addressing problems caused by that success. (Example: so many fans were using rideshare services to games the team needed to expand the dropoff/pickup area.) The fan experience, which features an onsite microbrewery, an outstanding Monument Garden occupying prime real estate, and enough seating options to please every fan, is one of the best in all of baseball. The Braves were also successful in aligning a new development, The Battery, with the ballpark, creating a new economic model for sports venues. We’re not just talking about an entertainment district next to a venue: we’re talking about an environment where people work, live and play.

The Middle of the Road

8 Petco Park A very underrated ballpark, Petco Park exceeds both as a venue and as a facility that played a significant role in generating urban renewal in the rundown Gaslamp Quarter. A San Diego Padres game is a treat: the sightlines at Petco Park are tremendous, the food and beverage offerings are top-notch, and the location—within walking distance of a slew of affordable hotels and parking garages—can’t be beat. And it’s perhaps the most kid-friendly ballpark in MLB: The 2.7-acres Park in the Park is an awesome grassy area where kids can blow off some steam and the parents can chill with a tasty local microbrew.

9 Citi Field The home of the New York Mets has aged remarkably well, and if anything gets better every year. This year saw the installation of a high-end onsite brewery, adding to a high-level lineup of noteworthy food offerings. One thing missing: a lack of recognition that the Mets existed before Citi Field. For many fans, the Shea Stadium years were a very important part of Mets history, but there’s little recognition of that era and the old ballpark at Citi Field. If anything, we’d love to see more reminders of Shea Stadium past the home-run apple and a named bridge on the concourse: Shea generates bad memories because it was a dump at the end, but when it opened Shea was state of the art. The references to Jackie Robinson in the main rotunda entry are nice, but this ballpark is not located in Brooklyn. Still, with the great sightlines and the robust food/beverage program, Citi Field excels.

10 Oriole Park The ballpark that launched the MLB retro movement, Orioles Park still exudes a lot of charm and provides a notable ballpark experience. There’s some real history here—a tavern once owned by George Ruth Sr. was located in what is now short left-center field—and there are nice representations of Baltimore baseball history, including a statue of Babe Ruth inexplicably holding a glove meant for a right-hander. The ballpark was refreshed in 2009-2012 with new seating, a club-level renovation, new center field roof deck above the batter’s eye, and concessions upgrade, but there are still some parts of the ballpark that are a little tired and in need of more TLC.

11 Kauffman Stadium Another classic ballpark that’s aged well, Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973 and received a serious set of upgrades in 2009. There’s no mistaking Kauffman Stadium for anything other than a Kansas City ballpark: local food items are sold at prominent spots in the concourse, a Hall of Fame in the left-field corner spotlights not only the Royals but important Negro Leagues history, and an expanded fountain area is showcased in the outfield. Why is this important? Kansas City is the City of Fountains, dating back to the 1800s when public fountains were erected for thirsty animals; later fountains were more decorative in nature. The original Kauffman Stadium fountain was privately funded, not part of the original ballpark budget.

12 Yankee Stadium When the third Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, it was criticized for being cold and a little too reverent for down-to-earth New Yorkers. Since then, the Yankees have toned down the grandeur and implemented more crowd-pleasing measures. Give the Yankees credit: when they do something, they do something big. When they upgraded concessions to offer more high-end meats, they not only devoted prime concourse real estate to the venture, they added space for an on-site butcher, doing their work behind glass. When they added social spaces, they cleared out several sections in center field to make way for a massive group area, complete with plenty of USB charging stations, and added upper-level bars with four tops and drink rails. When Yankee Stadium III opened, fans were expected to stay in their seats and take in every minute of action; recent changes at the ballpark have relieved the weight of history and made Yankee Stadium a much more inviting place.

Coors Field

13 Coors Field It doesn’t seem like Coors Field is 23 years old. The role of the Colorado Rockies’ home in revitalizing the LoDo district of Denver has been well-documented, as a former expanse of abandoned and run-down warehouses and office spaces is now a thriving entertainment and business district. In this case, the retro architecture fits perfectly within the LoDo scene, and the Rockies have not stood still in implementing ballpark upgrades, including a cool new scoreboard this season, an entertainment district in coming years and an impressive social space in 2014.

14 Citizens Bank Park We love the home of the Philadelphia Phillies; we just wish it were closer to the downtown core. Yes, we know it’s convenient to be part of Philly’s sports complex, which features NFL and NBA/NHL facilities, but all that foot traffic is wasted. Citizens Bank Park received some sorely needed upgrades for the 2018 season, including a new kids area (The Yard) complete with a bar for the parents, an overhauled Left Field Plaza that honors the team’s history (complete with a relocated Wall of Fame) and incorporates new concession offerings, and overhauled party suites. Citizens Bank Park was in need of a refreshing, and this year saw the team address those needs.

15 Great American Ball Park We love the nods to Cincinnati Reds history—the large murals, the statues outside the ballpark, an adjoining history museum, the Sun/Moon Deck—and we love the general layout of the ballpark, with plenty of easy access and riverfront views. We love the changes the Red made to Great American Ball Park this season, including the 12 loge boxes in right field. So why does Great American Ball Park rank only #15? Well, there are some seriously good ballparks ahead of it, and we’d love to see more of what GABP a great ballpark. When it comes to the fan experience, more is always good.

16 Comerica Park The retro is strong in Detroit, and equally as strong in Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers since 2000. The Tigers predate the American League and was a charter member of the circuit in 1901, so there’s plenty of Tigers history to mine. Statues of Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Ty Cobb and Willie Horton dominate the left-field concourse, while the right-field Walk of Fame amply illustrates team history. Kids will love a Comerica Park visit: the pouncing tigers at the entry gates set the tone for a day, and rides on the Comerica Carousel (featuring 30 hand-painted tigers) and the Fly Ball Ferris Wheel will complete the day. The food offerings are varied, and the Beer Hall, with a 70-foot-long bar and plenty of micro- and macrobrews, is always worth a stop. Downtown Detroit is in the midst of a revival, and the ballpark has played a role in that revival.

17 Nationals Park Social spaces are the trendy ballpark feature these days, but most folks forget that Nationals Park featured a popular center-field gathering spot for millennials long before social spaces were even a thing. There’s a lot to like about Nationals Park in terms of the waterfront location and good sightlines, and it’s also worth noting the impact the ballpark made in the Buzzard Point/Navy Yard area: it’s now D.C.’s fastest growing neighborhood, and the ballpark is a big part of the growth in what’s now called the Ballpark District.

18 Progressive Field The Indians revamped Progressive Field in recent years, opening the outfield concourse, overhauling suites, adding new restaurants and clubs, upgrading social spaces and modernizing parts of the ballpark untouched since Progressive Field opened in 1994. (Yes, it was that long ago.) Some parts of the Progressive Field experience aren’t great—the concourses are a little dark, and the upper-deck seating is a little steep—but it’s a lot better than it was in 2014, before the Indians launched a multiyear renovation plan.

19 Safeco Field Seattle is a foodie paradise, so it’s no surprise that the food and beverage options are the strongest part of the Safeco Field experience. The Mariners made headlines last season by offering toasted grasshoppers at two concession stands, regularly selling out of the Oaxacan chapulines (300 or so orders nightly). But that’s just part of the Safeco Field experience. There have been ties to local restaurants since the ballpark opened, and 2018 saw even more offerings Seattle staples like Jack’s BBQ and Din Tai Fung are in the ballpark. Other offerings include a donut stand named On Deck Donuts, a new beef “long bone” rib at Holy Smoke BBQ, and a fresh mix of options at The Sultan of Sandwich. The ballpark is starting to show its age a little—the concourses are a little narrow, and fun features like the Hall of Fame and history exhibits can get crowded quickly—and we’d be surprised if some ballpark upgrades weren’t part of the Safeco Field future.

Miller Park 2017

20 Miller Park This ballpark saved baseball in Milwaukee. Renovations to the ballpark in 2017 makes the places scream Sconnie: from the tailgating in the vast expanse of parking to the cheese curds and brandy Old Fashioneds inside the ballpark, everything relates to the essential Wisconsin experience. Some minuses: it can be hard to make your way around the ballpark, as only one level—the concourse level—is a 360-degree walkway. And despite Miller Park having a retractable roof, it always feels like you’re attending an indoor game. This is the most intrusive roof in the majors, and the infrastructure supporting it interferes with the game experience. 

21 Minute Maid Park The home of the Houston Astros sprawls. Infrastructure needed to support the massive retractable roof led to an extremely large ballpark footprint. This means some serious walks if you want to wander the ballpark. Most ballparks have an issue with narrow concourses; the opposite is true at Minute Maid Park. We were not fans of what the Astros did prior to the 2017 season by removing Tal’s Hill and installing a new concessions area and social space: yes, social spaces are trendy, but Tal’s Hill was one of the most distinctive elements of any MLB ballpark. At some point the Astros will need to work on some sort of additional changes to Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000—improvements for 2020 wouldn’t be a bad idea.

22 Busch Stadium Lots of value engineering went into the privately financed Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006. To their credit, the Cardinals have made recent improvements to the ballpark, most recently the installation of a new entertainment feature and social space in 2018: the Budweiser Terrace, a renovation and redesign of the ballpark’s upper level in right field and adjacent concourse on level 4. The 20,000-square-foot space features two full-service bars, cabana seating on the concourse, and lounge seating and standing room spaces within the seating bowl. This is the sort of imaginative space we’d love to see throughout the ballpark.

23 Guaranteed Rate Field Truth is, we find Guaranteed Rate Field to be an underrated ballpark. It suffers from being the last MLB ballpark to open before Oriole Park changed all the design rules, and it also suffers from being a very vertical ballpark: it feels like a fortress as you approach it from street level. That vertical design also led to plenty of accurate criticism when it opened: the upper deck was simply too steep. After alterations, the upper deck is still a steep climb—though not as steep as it was—and the White Sox have put plenty of effort into upping the fan experience with multiple craft-beer spots and social spaces.

24 Marlins Park Architecturally, Marlins Park is a noteworthy facility, and it exudes a cool Miami vibe. And, we will give Jeffrey Loria and David Samson some credit in working to reflect that Miami/Latin America vibe when Marlins Park opened in 2012, adopting colorful team branding. But Loria and Samson proved to be pretty inept at running a ballclub, and the current ownership—with Derek Jeter as the public face of the franchise—seems determined to make every Marlins game as dull as possible. We’d love to see the crowds descend on Marlins Park, but it will take more than a barely competitive team to bring them out; the team really needs to pay more attention to the fan experience.

The Laggards

25 Chase Field There are good reasons why the Arizona Diamondbacks want either a new or renovated ballpark: Chase Field, despite TLC from the D-Backs, has not aged well and is need of deferred maintenance. The recent agreement between the team and Maricopa County should provide some clarity moving forward: while there will be plenty of talk about a new ballpark in the East Valley, there’s no doubt downtown works best for an MLB ballpark. For the meantime, a game at Chase Field is a mixed bag: the food and beverage experience is great and the least expensive in baseball, but the seats in the back of field and upper-deck sections feel like they’re a mile away from the action. Part of this related to the roof technology used when the ballpark opened in 1998, but here’s to hoping the place can be made more intimate if renovated.

26 Globe Life Park For a ballpark built in Texas, there was not much attention paid to fan comfort in the face of a hot climate when Globe Life Park opened in 1994. Most of the seating is directly under the hot Lone Star State sun, save a few sections, and the hottest we’ve ever been at a ballpark has been attending an afternoon Rangers game. To the team’s credit, plenty of research was done on sun shades, a retractable roof and other mitigation measures before the decision was made to pursue a new ballpark. There are some really nice features to the Globe Life Park design, particularly decorative elements linking the ballpark to Dallas’s agricultural past, but in the end fans expect a tolerable temperature at the ballpark.

27 Angel Stadium The home of the Los Angeles Angels is haunted by its past: when it opened, then-Anaheim Stadium was a modest ballpark with lovely views of the largely rural surroundings, the Big A in the outfield and modern concessions. The renovations since that 1966 opening did not necessarily improve the fan experience: closing the bowl off for the Rams really changed the nature of the ballpark, and the Disney renovation has not necessarily aged well. It’s not an easy ballpark to maneuver, and some of the sightlines need to be adjusted for baseball. Again, no surprise the Angels want to either build a new ballpark or renovate Angel Stadium.

28 Rogers Centre When opening in 1989, Rogers Centre was truly an engineering marvel, with a functional retractable roof and a design working for both baseball and CFL football. But despite some efforts to spiff the place up, Rogers Centre still has a 1989 feel, with plenty of exposed concrete and a synthetic-turf field. The team knows something needs to be done but seems paralyzed when presented with options. In the meantime, a game at Rogers Centre is a very sterile experience.

29 Tropicana Field We will give the Rays ownership and management credit: they work awfully hard on the food and beverage front to improve the fan experience. The Rays were also installing social spaces before social spaces became a thing in professional sports. But in the end, the team is playing out of a 1990 barn where the quirks aren’t charming, and any fan-experience upgrades are limited. Yes, you’ll miss that inevitable late-afternoon Florida rainstorm because of the dome, but in the end you’re cut off from the sun and evening breezes that are part of the St. Petersburg experience.

30 Oakland Coliseum Yes, you’re outside, yes, you can take the BART to the ballpark, and yes, you can partake of some good food and drink while enjoying an Athletics game. But otherwise, the Oakland Coliseum experience means seats set back far from the action—even in the front row, thanks the expansive foul territory—and an infrastructure designed at all times to take you away from the action. We think it’s inevitable the Oakland Coliseum goes away once the Athletics settle on a new-ballpark strategy, and while some great memories were created during the Reggie Jackson/Sal Bando/Joe Rudi era, no one will shed many tears for the current Oakland Coliseum experience.

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