After a Sweet Sixteen round that saw high numbers of voting and a few notable upsets, we’ve moved on to the Elite Eight round of the 2021 Double-A MiLB Best of the Ballparks fan vote.
In this year’s most notable upset, #16 seed ONEOK Field (Tulsa Drillers) defeated defending champ and #1 seed Blue Wahoos Stadium (Pensacola Blue Wahoos) by a 51%-49% margin. In a milder upset, fans chose #11 seed TD Bank Ballpark (Somerset Patriots) over #6 seed Toyota Field (Rocket City Trash Pandas) by a 54%-46% margin. In the closest race, only 10 votes separated Peoples Natural Gas Field (Altoona Curve) and Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco RoughRiders). The five ballparks receiving the most votes in the Sweet Sixteen round: ONEOK Field, TD Bank Ballpark, Blue Wahoos Stadium, Hodgetown (Amarillo Sod Poodles) and Dunkin’ Donuts Park (Hartford Yard Goats). Now that the dust on a busy Sweet Sixteen round has settled, we’re moving on to the Elite Eight round, where we expect another set of close contests.
This year in Double-A sees the elimination of the Texas, Southern and Eastern leagues, one ballpark new to Double-A after being built for Triple-A (Riverfront Stadium, home of the Wichita Wind Surge, which was a finalist in the Triple-A vote in 2020), one former independent-baseball facility entering affiliated ball (TD Bank Ballpark, traditionallya huge contender in the independent votes) a long-time Double-A ballpark returning from Triple-A (Wolff Stadium), and a ballparks seeing major renovations (UPMC Park). With all of these changes and new ballparks faring well in 2020 fan votes, anything can happen.
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 Double-A 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 Blue Wahoos Stadium, home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and last year’s champion. 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.
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 at the bottom of this page in the form of brackets. Vote below: