After a first round that saw some surprisingly close votes, we’re moving on to the second round in the 2018 Best of the Ballparks fan vote for Low-A MiLB ball, where we you to select the top ballpark in the Midwest and South Atlantic Leagues. So vote!
Low-A baseball covers much of the eastern and midwest portions of the United States, ranging from Appleton and Burlington to the north and west to Lakewood and Hagerstown to the northeast and Augusta and Charleston (S.C.) to the southeast. It’s a varied level of Minor League Baseball when it comes to ballparks and teams, including teams owned by community groups in Iowa and Wisconsin, playing out of modest facilities.
In the first round, we saw two upsets, when fans close Dozer Park, home of the Peoria Chiefs (Low A; Midwest League), over Riley Park, home of the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League), and State Mutual Park, home of the Rome Braves (Low A; Sally League), over McCormick Field (Low A; Sally League). The top ballparks in this first round in contested brackets in terms of votes: Appalachian Power Park, Fifth Third Ballpark and Spirit Communications Park.
Since the voting began in 2015, three different Low-A ballparks have snared the honors, all from the Midwest League: Modern Woodmen Park (2015), Parkview Field (2016) and Four Winds Field (2017). Will this year’s voting break that streak?
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.
Here’s our schedule for Best of the Ballparks 2018 vote:
Class A and Class AA: Now – June 19
Class AAA: June 14 – July 6
Short Season A/Rookie: June 18 – July 6
Independent: June 22 – July 9
Summer Collegiate: July 2 – 22
We are running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. Here’s a breakdown of the voting schedule:
First Round: Now – June 3, 2 p.m. Central
Second Round: June 3, 2 p.m. Central – June 7, 2 p.m. Central
Elite Eight: June 7, 2 p.m. Central – June 11, 2 p.m. Central
Final Four: June 11, 2 p.m. Central – June 15, 2 p.m. Central
Finals: June 15, 2 p.m. Central – June 19, 4 p.m. Central
Some notes on the voting, as we’ve overhauled our bracketing and voting system. First, you are allowed to vote multiple times, but you can only vote once per day. Second, you don’t need to fill out a full slate: partially filled votes will count.
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 much thought and deliberation. Occupying the top spot Four Winds Field, home of the South Bend Cubs, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks 2017 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. Four Winds Field (South Bend Cubs; ML)
2. Parkview Field (Fort Wayne TinCaps; ML)
3. Modern Woodmen Park (Quad Cities River Bandits; ML)
4. Spirit Communications Park (Columbia Fireflies; SAL)
5. Fluor Field (Greenville Drive; SAL)
6. SRP Park (Augusta GreenJackets; SAL)
7. First National Bank Field (Greensboro Grasshoppers; SAL)
8. Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park (Charleston RiverDogs; SAL)
9. McCormick Field (Asheville Tourists; SAL)
10. Fifth Third Field (Dayton Dragons; ML)
11. Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium (Wisconsin Timber Rattlers; ML)
12. Dow Diamond (Great Lakes Loons; ML)
13. Fifth Third Ballpark (West Michigan Whitecaps; ML)
14. Cooley Law School Stadium (Lansing Lugnuts; ML)
15. FirstEnergy Park (Lakewood Blueclaws; SAL)
16. Whitaker Bank Ballpark (Lexington Legends; SAL)
17. Appalachian Power Park (West Virginia Power; SAL)
18. Perfect Game Field (Cedar Rapids Kernels; ML)
19. L.P. Frans Stadium (Hickory Crawdads; SAL)
20. Perdue Stadium (Delmarva Shorebirds; SAL)
21. Bowling Green Ballpark (Bowling Green Hot Rods; ML)
22. Northwest Medicine Field (Kane County Cougars; ML)
23. Classic Park (Lake County Captains; ML)
24. State Mutual Stadium (Rome Braves; SAL)
25. Dozer Park (Peoria Chiefs; ML)
26. Intimidators Stadium (Kannapolis Intimidators; SAL)
27. Community Field (Burlington Bees; ML)
28. Ashford University Field (Clinton LumberKings; ML)
29. Municipal Stadium (Hagerstown Suns; SAL)
30. Pohlman Field (Beloit Snappers; ML)