A series of very tight races highlighted the Triple-A voting in the last round of the 2019 Best of the Ballparks competition, as we move on to what’s sure to be an equally tight Elite Eight round. So go vote!
There were some very tight votes: for instance, First Tennessee Park (Nashville Sounds) edged out Smith’s Ballpark (Salt Lake Bees) by just three votes. (Yes, every vote counts!) Two of the eight votes were decided by less than a percentage point, while another was decided by fewer than 4 percentage points. Three upsets were also recorded: Frontier Field, the #20 seed, over #4 seed BB&T Ballpark; #12 seed Fifth Third Field over #5 seed Victory Field; and #23 seed Raley Field over #7 seed Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The top five vote-getters in the Sweet Sixteen round (in order): Las Vegas Ballpark (Las Vegas Aviators), Fifth Third Field (Toledo Mud Hens), Huntington Park (Columbus Clippers), Southwest University Park (El Paso Chihuahuas) and Sahlen Field (Buffalo Bisons). So far 47,500 fans have voted in the Triple-A competition, and a little over 300,000 fans in the overall 2019 Best of the Ballparks competition.
So we move on to what should be a fascinating Elite Eight round.
This is the top level of Minor League Baseball, and the level of the ballparks reflects that status. This is also traditionally a heated competition marked by heavy turnout and close votes; last year over 97,000 fans voted for their favorite Triple-A ballpark, and given trends so far this year, we expect the final tally to be well over 100,000. (In the first round alone, over 23,000 voters participated.) Yet we see plenty of brackets being decided by very close votes, so rest assured your vote will matter.
We know from marketing stats that 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 ranking of Triple-A ballparks, combining International League and Pacific Coast League ballparks. This was an extremely difficult list to seed: This is the top level of Minor League Baseball, and the quality of the facilities reflects that standing. Honestly, there’s not a lot of difference between most of the ballparks in this competition, and there are plenty of arguments for most of these ballparks deserving a higher rating. Results of last year’s vote also played a part in our seedings, as well as improvements entering this season. Occupying the top spot is Huntington Park, home of the International League’s Columbus Clippers, the winner of the Best of the Ballparks in 2017 and 2018 voting. We 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. This is by far the most difficult bracket to seed.
1. Huntington Park (Columbus Clippers; IL)
2. First Tennessee Park (Nashville Sounds; PCL)
3. Las Vegas Ballpark (Las Vegas Aviators; PCL)
4. BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte Knights; IL)
5. Victory Field (Indianapolis Indians; IL)
6. Louisville Slugger Field (Louisville Bats; IL)
7. Durham Bulls Athletic Park (Durham Bulls; IL)
8. Coca-Cola Park (Lehigh Valley IronPigs; IL)
9. Southwest University Park (El Paso Chihuahuas; PCL)
10. Dell Diamond (Round Rock Express; PCL)
11. AutoZone Park (Memphis Redbirds; PCL)
12. Fifth Third Field (Toledo Mud Hens; IL)
13. Werner Park (Omaha Storm Chasers; PCL)
14. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Oklahoma City Dodgers; PCL)
15. Greater Nevada Field (Reno Aces; PCL)
16. Isotopes Park (Albuquerque Isotopes; PCL)
17. Sahlen Field (Buffalo Bisons; IL)
18. Smith’s Ballpark (Salt Lake Bees; PCL)
19. Cheney Stadium (Tacoma Rainiers; PCL)
20. Frontier Field (Rochester Red Wings; IL)
21. PNC Field (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders; IL)
22. Chukchansi Park (Fresno Grizzlies; PCL)
23. Raley Field (Sacramento River Cats; PCL)
24. Principal Park (Iowa Cubs; PCL)
25. NBT Bank Stadium (Syracuse Chiefs; IL)
26. Coolray Field (Gwinnett Stripers; IL)
27. Harbor Park (Norfolk Tides; IL)
28. Shrine on Airline (New Orleans Baby Cakes; PCL)
29. McCoy Stadium (Pawtucket Red Sox; IL)
30. Wolff Stadium (San Antonio Missions; PCL)
IL = International League
PCL = Pacific Coast League
We are running the contest with seeded brackets, so there will be plenty of action in coming days. Here’s our schedule for the Best of the Ballparks 2019 Triple-A vote:
First Round: Completed
Second Round: Completed
Third Round: Now through June 20, 3 p.m. Central
Semifinals Round: June 20, 3 p.m. Central through June 25, 3 p.m. Central
Finals: June 25, 3 p.m. Central through end of day, June 30
Here’s our schedule for Best of the Ballparks 2019 vote:
Low A: Completed (Fort Wayne TinCaps)
High A: Now-June 16
Class AA: Now-June 23
Class AAA: Now-June 30
Short Season A/Rookie: June 17-July 11
Independent: June 11-July 8
Summer Collegiate: June 18-July 13
Some things to note. 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 lineups will count. A running tally of the vote will be presented. Signing up for the Ballpark Digest newsletter means you’ll receive regular updates on the votes.