Covering a professional sports franchise, you often get the same questions: Can you get X’s autograph? Do you travel with the team? What are your favorite cities? Do you cover every game? The usual.
So I’ll dive into one question that’s especially pertinent in baseball: What are your favorite stadiums? I’ve seen several tweets about this recently, and it inspired me to jot down my personal preferences during this sports-less period.
Which Major League ballpark is the best?— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 13, 2020
I preface this by saying I have not been to every MLB stadium. Obviously, I'm much more familiar with the National League than the American League. It's noteworthy to mention I've never been to Fenway Park, which ranks near the top of everyone's list.
Without further ado, my favorite ballparks:
Honorable mention: Citi Field, New York; Coors Field, Colorado
I’ll be honest: If Citi Field was located in Memphis, it wouldn’t be honorable mention. But I enjoy taking in a game in Queens and the media accommodations at the stadium are good. New York is a very love-and-hate place. In this case, I love it. It’s my favorite ballpark/trip in the NL East.
Coors Field is a gem. You know you’re in Denver. It’s unique but nothing outlandish. LoDo is a poppin’ area, and Rockies fans are a passionate group. Plus, you’re usually going to see some exciting offense.
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5. Wrigley Field, Chicago
I love the atmosphere at Wrigley, though I’m not attending to root for an opposing team. I love most games being during the day – it’s much better suited for afternoon games. The surrounding Wrigleyville makes game day an event well beyond nine innings. The brick and ivy is a salute to baseball’s beauty.
The historic aspect vaults Wrigley here because the working conditions aren’t good. The press box is outdated and tight. Getting down to the clubhouse through drunken crowds is a pain. Generally, I don’t like the work aspect of covering games here. But those shortcomings are overshadowed by the other factors.
4. Petco Park, San Diego
The cool thing about Petco Park is it embraces the best of San Diego. Like with Citi Field, the location (and weather) plays a big role to me.
The Western Metal Supply building in left field would be considered more iconic if the team was ever any good. It’s a perfect baseball stadium perk. I really like the design and location, which is right in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. It’s a pleasant walk around the park and surrounding area. The food — shocker — is probably best in the bigs.
Credit: Gene J. Puskar
Credit: Gene J. Puskar
3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh
I’d guess this is No. 1 on most lists. PNC is a masterpiece. It provides a beautiful view of Pittsburgh and the Clemente Bridge. From my perspective, the press box is spacious and allows us to take in the scene as well. There isn’t a better designed backdrop to any MLB stadium. The outside Riverwalk is outstanding. You can take it to Heinz Field too, which I like because it connects the Pirates and Steelers.
Everything about PNC is well done. The stadium and fans deserve a better team. The venue should host postseason baseball far more often.
2. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
I doubt this is a popular choice, but I love Dodger Stadium. Yes, it’s an older venue that needs improvement (which they are doing) in some areas, but the atmosphere, the scenery and the surrounding area is unlike any other. The views are fantastic, especially the San Gabriel mountains in the background.
Even without the nostalgic charm, the ballpark just “feels” Los Angeles. I love the ambiance and design. It isn’t for everyone, I’ll acknowledge, but it’s among the best to me.
1. Oracle Park, San Francisco
This one tops many lists. The view is magnificent. It’s on the water, giving it a feel that few parks can match. The smell of garlic fries throughout the stadium adds to the vibe. The signature giant glove in the outfield and the towering wall in right protecting McCovey Cove further the uniqueness. The sounds of seagulls and ships is the perfect background noise. Day games in San Francisco are my favorite.
The atmosphere admittedly hasn’t been as stellar the past few years since the Giants are terrible. Once they’re winning again, the fervent crowds will follow. But even without them, there isn’t a better stadium to take in a ballgame.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com