I wrote about my favorite stadiums Wednesday. This time, I’m going the other way: my least favorite venues.
This one was more difficult than the positive version. Fortunately, I cover the National League, which is immensely better for ballparks. I haven’t covered a game in Oakland or the South Side of Chicago, two of the notoriously poorly rated arenas.
I’m going to rank only my bottom three. That’s because two places I might’ve included, Cincinnati and Cleveland, don’t deserve to be ranked as “bottom” tier stadiums. I didn’t mind Cleveland, but it wasn’t particularly exciting. Cincinnati is OK, nothing special, but it doesn’t deserve a bad rating.
So here are three I just don’t love:
3. Angel Stadium, Anaheim
It’s funny that Angel Stadium is the fourth-oldest ballpark in the bigs, yet it’s never uttered in the same breath as Fenway, Wrigley or Dodger Stadium. It isn’t considered a crown jewel of the sport. It isn’t on any bucket lists, unless you’re an Angels fan.
It’s a rather boring place. The outside isn’t visually appealing, either. I haven’t covered a game there, so my experience was strictly as a fan. Bill Simmons mentioned on his podcast several months back that it was a rather depressing place in general. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but we’ll just say it doesn’t incite enthusiasm.
2. Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
At the risk of a Nationals fan finding this and pointing out that I cover the Braves: I’m including their ballpark here. D.C. is one of my favorite trips, and I love the area. D.C. fans are a caring bunch, even those of the relatively young Nationals. (Congrats, Redskins, for alienating so many people who are just craving competent football.)
But covering a game there isn’t anything great. The stadium is bland, boring and cookie-cutter. The press box is unnecessarily elevated. The food options are among the league’s worst. The surrounding area is continuously improving, but right now there’s little that separates it. Nationals Park ranks so low for me because so many other NL parks offer *something* whereas this is just … there.
Not that they care what I think. They’re the defending champs.
1. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay
I’m not going to pile on the Trop. The place is awful and everyone knows it. A non-retractable roof, a dank interior and a crowd of people either just hoping for a) a new ballpark or b) a Yankees or Red Sox win.
I do hope the Rays get a new stadium in Tampa. I think you’d see a revitalized fan base and a team that could build credibility in the area that it simply hasn’t in St. Petersburg. A shiny new stadium doesn’t fix everything, but it would go a long way.
Maybe my view is biased as a Bucs fan, but I hope the Rays stay put. No doubt, the operation is set up to fail in that stadium, making it all-the-more impressive that the on-field product is good.
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