This is a list of the top five Major League Baseball parks that do not receive enough love, and definitely should. Everyone has heard endless gushing about Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Camden Yards, and Busch Stadium. It is time to give credit to these five awesome venues that deserve attention that is long overdue.
By Paul K. DiCostanzo Managing Editor
#5 PETCO Park, San Diego, CA
One of the most endearing aspects of any ballpark is when it is designed to encompass the feel and image of the community it calls home. PETCO Park sits among the best in that respect. Whether it be the iconic Western Metal Supply Company building that hones the feeling of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, or the sandy beach just beyond the right-center outfield wall, PETCO Park creates the famous relaxed feeling that San Diego is well known for. As the ballpark sits close to the water, the open air stands allow a cool breeze to pass throughout the ballpark, and makes for the perfect setting weather-wise for a baseball game.
One of the most unique aspects of PETCO is the frequent military presence during games. San Diego is a city with a major Navy and Marine Corps community, and occasionally you will see uniformed sailors and Marines in mass on game day. The Padres take great pride in honoring San Diego’s men and women in uniform, and seeing entire sections wearing desert cammie’s or dress whites is found almost nowhere else in the game.
#4 Globe Life Ballpark at Arlington, Arlington, Texas
The home of the Texas Rangers opened in 1994, and was one of the first new generation MLB ballparks. It is the next door neighbor to the home of the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, and the original Six Flags Over Texas. Before you ever pass the ball park turnstile, the Arlington area provides no lack of delicious dining or entertainment options.
As you approach the ballpark you can feel the spirit of Texas and the southwest. The red brick and fine stonework displays many five pointed stars along the gilded exterior. After passing the gates and walking into the stands, you quickly realize you’re in a ballpark like none other. The design is an amalgamation of legendary jewelbox ballpark characteristics. Whether it be the Fenway-like raised outfield wall in left, the Tiger Stadium overhanging upper deck stands in right, or the unique French Quarter balconies housed in left center. For the visual feast alone Globe Life is one of the few places anyone would want to be outdoors during a broiling north Texas August evening.
As with all things Texas, the home of the Rangers takes food to the next level. In addition to standard ballpark fare, the Rangers have made headlines in recent years for mind blowing novelty menu items like chicken fried bacon on a stick, bacon fried cotton candy, and just about everything else a cardiologist would forbade. To say nothing of the fact that if you want beer, the selections are quite literally endless.
#3 PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh in the last 15 years has shown itself to be a city on a serious rise, and PNC Park is no exception. The home of the Pirates opened in 2001, and boasts one of the most overwhelming views in baseball. It is a ballpark that encompasses many of the best architectural qualities found in the most celebrated ballparks in history. Yet the coup de gras for PNC sits beyond the stadium itself. The view of Pittsburgh from the stands is unmatched anywhere else in sports. The combination of a gorgeous skyline, the Allegheny River, and the magnificent Pittsburgh-gold 6th street bridge.
The Pittsburgh sports fan is known to be one of the most dedicated in all of sports. Whether it be the Steelers, Penguins, University of Pittsburgh Panthers basketball, or the Pirates, sports are life or death in this portion of the Appalachians. As the Pirates have returned to competitive relevance in the past few years, PNC has shown itself to house an immensely passionate fan base that only enhances the ballpark experience. Despite renewed interest in the Buccos, most anyone can afford to get into the building and be well pleased with their seat.
#2 Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI
There is always a special place for ballparks that are ready for the game, rain or shine. For that alone Miller Park receives high marks for their retractable roof. Since the Brewers are forced to play in a climate where winter type weather can bleed into May, fans never need worry about a delay of first pitch.
Miller Park first opened its doors in 2002, replacing the long since adequate Milwaukee County Stadium. With their new generation digs Miller Park does offer restaurant quality dining options, but they excel at what Wisconsin does best: beer, fried cheese curds, and brats. For the traveling baseball fan, there is nothing more endearing than visiting a ballpark that epitomizes the best of what their home city does with food. Miller also has the unique benefit of being located a stone’s throw from the free Miller Brewery tour!
Unlike most every other fan base in the game of baseball, Miller Park hosts genuinely amazing tailgating events. With an expansive ballpark parking lot, generous team tailgating policies, and Packer/Badger fans who set the standard, Miller Park stands nearly alone in the MLB ballpark experience with this classic American sports tradition.
#1 Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Exactly what is there to dislike about a beautiful ballpark that smells like smoked brisket? Short answer, nothing. This Midwestern baseball jewel may have opened in 1973, but it has always managed to keep up with the times after several renovations. Kauffman is nestled in a large complex shared with the Kansas City Chiefs home field Arrowhead Stadium.
As you exit I-70 in Independence, the majestic icon immediately draws your attention. Once you have parked, the stadium glistens in the twilight as the smell of barbecue wafts far and wide. The scoreboard in center field dominates the baseball landscape. Between the majestic HD scoreboard, the flanking iconic outfield fountains for which Kansas City is known, and waterfalls beyond the outfield fence, it can only be described as the melody to Funkytown.
Once you have passed the gates, never have you met kinder and more hospitable ballpark employees and fans. The stadium fare is a taste of the best that Kansas City is known for, and you need not take out a second mortgage on your home to enjoy it.
The lower level seating of Kauffman offers excellent perspectives of the field of play. Even as the Royals have become the premier club of the American League, it is an affordable experience for most everyone.
These are the five diamonds in the baseball rough for this article. Do you agree? Is there a ballpark you feel has been snubbed? What are your top five underrated parks? Share in the comments!