Out of the four contests in the Elite Eight round, three came down to the wire. A handful of votes separated Bosse Field (Evansville Otters) and Truist Point (High Point Rockers), while close margins also pushed Franklin Field (Milwaukee Milkmen) and Lindquist Field (Ogden Raptors) to the Final Four. The ballparks receiving the most votes in the Elite Eight round: Clipper Magazine Stadium (Lancaster Barnstormers), PeoplesBank Park (York Revolution; the victim of a bad draw), Franklin Field (Milwaukee Milkmen) and GCS Credit Union Ballpark (Gateway Grizzlies; again, the victim of a bad draw). In a nice show of balance, three of the four MLB Partner Leagues are represented in the Final Four.
The four MLB Partner Leagues came about during the offseason reorganization of Minor League Baseball. Three former independent leagues–the American Association, Atlantic League and Frontier League–were offered and accepted MLB Partner League status. The Pioneer League, formerly an affiliate Rookie league, transitioned to an MLB Partner League as well. Several former affiliated teams that did not make the 120-team cut also ended up joining MLB Partner Leagues. They’re all represented here. (OK, strictly speaking, not every ballpark here is part of an MLB Partner League: Jimmy John’s Field and Volcanoes Stadium host professional baseball and fall under the imprimatur of independent baseball.)
This is an unwieldy bracket because of the 45 entries; we decided to go for broke and have a vote of the full field rather than trim the roster to 32 teams. So we begin the voting with what’s essentially a play in round and a limited number of contested matchups, versus the 19 byes needed to balance the brackets. Still, there are some interesting matchups here, and we think you’ll find the selections to be a challenge.
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 MLB Partner League ballparks. This was an extremely difficult list to seed: This list is a combination of former independent-league ballparks as well as a wide range of former affiliated facilities, ranging from Triple-A to Rookie ball. Honestly, there’s not a lot of difference between many 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 Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers 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.
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: