It has been an absolutely lovely summer at Ballpark Digest, but the end is near, as we wrap up our Best of the Ballparks fan votes. Here’s information on two winners, while one more competition is in the final stages.
In only its second year of operation, Glacier Bank Park has captured the attention of the baseball world. The home of the Pioneer League’s Glacier Range Riders, Glacier Bank Park was voted the fan favorite in Ballpark Digest’s MLB Partner Leagues Best of the Ballparks vote, defeating Hinchliffe Stadium, home of the New Jersey Jackals (Frontier League) in the championship final round.
The vote covering the top 32 MLB Partner Leagues ballparks from the American Association, Atlantic League, Frontier League and Pioneer League started in a bracket-style competition. Glacier Bank Park beat WellSpan Park, home of the York Revolution, in Round 1; defeated Shaw Park, home of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, in the Sweet 16; bested Haymarket Park, home of the Lincoln Saltdogs, in the Elite Eight; got past defending champ Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers, in the Final Four; and then earned the title by beating Hinchliffe Stadium in the Championship Round. Over 78,000 fans voted at least once in the course of the competition, a record in the MLB Partner Leagues vote.
Located in Kalispell in the Flathead Valley, Montana, Glacier Bank Park opened in 2022 as home of the Range Riders, providing fans with a scenic locale and an upscale fan experience. The ballpark features landscaped seating areas with natural elements from the site and surrounding geography, group gathering areas, a children’s play area, and leaning rails throughout.
Hinchliffe Stadium (Paterson, N.J.) is one of the most historic venues in all of baseball, formerly hosting Negro Leagues baseball and the recipient of a multiyear renovation bringing its Art Deco design back to life.
From the Range Riders: “We’re incredibly grateful for the community support we received for the Ballpark Digest Best MLB Partner League Ballpark award. Glacier Bank Park was built because our ownership loves the game of baseball. It’s a completely modern facility but feels nostalgic. We’re thankful for the fans who have visited our ballpark who voted, and look forward to welcoming new fans who were made aware of our park because of this honor.”
“This was an impressive win for the Range Riders and their fans,” said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard. “Both finalists are great examples of how passion for the game is applied to the fan experiences. In the case of Glacier Bank Park, the ballpark and the team immediately became integral parts of the community.”
At the MLB Summer Collegiate level, comprising the Appalachian League and the MLB Draft League, the winner was Legion Field, home of the Danville Otterbots, in a win over defending champ Pioneer Park (Greeneville Flyboys) in the finals.
Opening in 1993, the ballpark previously was home to the Apply League’s Danville Braves. It’s the second-largest ballpark in the Appy League, and as you can see from the photo above, it’s certainly one of the most scenic.
Legion Field entered the 2023 vote with a defeat of Burlington Athletic Stadium(Burlington Sock Puppets)–notable for the fact that the Burlington ballpark started life as a Danville ballpark–followed by a triumph over Trenton Thunder Ballpark (Trenton Thunder) and then Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium (Frederick Keys) in the semifinals.
“We cannot thank our fans–both in Southern Virginia and around the country–enough for honoring us with this Best of the Ballparks, MLB Summer Collegiate Championship,” said Otterbots GM Austin Scher. “Our staff has worked diligently in making our ballpark a destination for baseball and entertainment fans alike, and we are so appreciative to have the unwavering support of BOTS Nation. Let’s go back-to-back next summer!”
We have one Best of the Ballparks contest remaining: Summer collegiate. We’re in the midst of the finals, where it’s Seaman Stadium (Okotoks Dawgs) vs. Centennial Field (Vermont Lake Monsters).
This year’s championship round is certainly a study in contrasts: Seaman Stadium is one of the newer summer-collegiate ballparks, opening in 2007 and upgraded since, while Centennial Field is one of the venerated old ballparks of baseball, originally opening in 1906 with a wooden grandstand and rebuilt with concrete and steel main grandstand in 1922, albeit upgraded several times since. (For those not up on their geography, Okotoks is south of Calgary, and Centennial Field is located on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington.)