Unparalleled Ballpark Reviews

Welcome to Ballpark Ratings!   My name is Cole Shoemaker, and this has been an ongoing project I have worked on during the tail end of the ballpark building boom, launching in 2012.  Ballparkratings.com scrutinizes all major league baseball stadiums and spring training ballparks to a degree never seen before, implementing a comprehensive ratings system based on setting, architecture, functionality, and amenities. This website also features a number of independent research articles that examine the debate (and my opinion) about the history of ballparks, the new wave of retro ballparks, design and architectural trends, the growing business of premium seating, and other logistical specifics: how does it reflect our evolving society from a macro perspective? Each ballpark features a photo gallery with 300+ photos, showcasing not only interior and exterior shots, but pictures that are more difficult to find on the internet, such as the concourses, club lounges, suites, concessions, restaurants, etc.  All photos are taken by me.  Ones without a watermark are just older.



While there is a “comments” section at the end of each specific ballpark review, please contact me at cole@ballparkratings.com or Facebook if you have any questions or comments.  Facebook may be quicker.  If you have a question about a specific ballpark, no matter how obscure, please ask!   Definitely feel free to comment on the ballpark reviews, as the old comments couldn’t be transferred to our new layout in 2017, so it looks kind of lonely!  Also, contact me if you have any interest in writing an article yourself for this website. Thanks!

What’s New and Future Articles

Hello Hello!  I finally created a Facebook page.  Like us on facebook!

The 2019 season is upon us, and I look forward to an exciting year.

This is my 20th consecutive year of attending spring training baseball, and I have released a piece ranking and rating all spring parks in one list, much in the vein of the MLB feature posted last year.  Here it is:

Best Spring Training Ballparks: Ranking and Rating All Spring Training Stadiums, Part 1
Best Spring Training Ballparks: Ranking and Rating All Spring Training Stadiums, Part 2

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A long-form piece ranking, rating, and reviewing all spring training facilities has been released!.

It’s just so unique in sports to have a separate pre-season venue that is in many ways better for experiencing baseball than the primary venue.

Only in baseball do fans travel hundreds of miles to see their team in sold out venues at cheaper prices.  Baseball had the ingenuity to make it a win-win for fans, while basketball and football fans pay high prices at inappropriately scaled regular season venues for pre-season games.

Spring training provides for lower ticket prices, better sightlines closer to the field, unencumbered access to players in unusually quaint situations, sold-out crowds, and laid-back atmospheres, but often with some of the amenities resembling major league parks such as varied concessions, destination tiki bars, social spaces, premium clubs, party decks, and kids’ play areas.

Beyond the relatively high and renewed quality of the venues, spring training baseball is especially conducive to comparing teams and ballparks.

It may take a lifetime for a die-hard fan or ballpark fanatic to see all 30 major league venues, but fans can easily see all 23 spring training ballparks (seven clubs share parks) in two springs.  Even I can’t easily experience the year-to-year changes at every MLB park, but any stadium nerd can experience most (or all) spring training ballparks on a yearly basis.

There’s also something incredibly cool about teams importing their particular regional tastes, local flares, local fans, and various signature elements all to one region.

CoolToday Park

CoolToday Park

In addition, our preview of the Braves’ new CoolToday Park in North Port, FL is out.  The Braves will play one game there on 3/24 before formally relocating in 2020.

Our piece rating and ranking the MLB ballparks was released last fall.   This is long overdue, as we have ranked and rated the ballparks individually but not outlined everything at one time.  Here it is:

-Best MLB Ballparks: Ranking and Rating the Major League Ballparks, 2018-19 Edition, Part 1
-Best MLB Ballparks: Ranking and Rating the Major League Ballparks, 2018-19 Edition, Part 2

Nationals Park

The (somewhat) underrated Nationals Park is hosting the 2018 MLB All-Star Game.

Just in time for the MLB All-Star Game festivities, I released the full, in-depth review of Nationals Park!   For reasons I outline in the review, Nationals Park has always gotten somewhat of a bad rap from the national press and ballpark aficionados. While it fell far short of expectations, it consistently provides a very good ballpark experience in just about every respect. As the Navy Yard continues to improve, look for Nationals Park to get even better, too.

Petco Park Best Park in Baseball

A new, in-depth review of Petco Park has been released, which we have as the best ballpark in baseball.  As usual, Wrigley, Fenway, and Dodger are excluded from that analysis.  We can have a conversation about the classics, and then we can talk about the other 27 ballparks in the majors.

In a long overdue effort to provide up-to-date content not specific to one ballpark review, I will be writing more blog style articles in 2018 consisting of news, features, rankings, comparisons, special profiles, and more.  I’ve realized long 10-15,000 word in-depth reviews simply aren’t optimal for dispensing, consuming, and sharing information in today’s social media environment, although such long-form ballpark reviews will continue to be released for those who enjoy the depth of the analysis.   I hope you guys enjoy a more rapid stream of pithy and accessible original content this year.

That starts with a newly released article (2/25) outlining 2018 spring training ballpark changes.
Here is our feature article for the spring: Comparing spring training ballparks in Florida to those in Arizona.
3/23: Most family-friendly spring training ballparks

2018 MLB ballpark changes

 

  • Photo galleries are now ordered by category at the bottom of each ballpark review
  • A new “ballpark news” section has been added at the bottom of this home page
  • New, distinct background images have been added for most ballparks
  • Photo Galleries have been added for EVERY spring training ballpark!
  • New, extensive (500+) photo galleries have been added for Great American Ballpark and Angel Stadium of Anaheim
  • Ratings for every spring park in Florida
  • Full, in-depth reviews or brief notes for every spring park in Florida
  • New photos from the final game at Turner Field
  • All 27 ballparks have been rated and in many cases re-rated, excluding the classic Dodger Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park, for reasons explained in those reviews.
  • New, extensive (500+) photo galleries of Chase Field
  • New photos in Yankee Stadium photo gallery
  • New in-depth reviews of Angel Stadium, Tropicana Field, Progressive FieldMarlins Park, and Citizens Bank Park
  • New in-depth review of SunTrust Park, the new 2017 home of the Atlanta Braves!
  • All 27 ballparks have now been ranked, excluding the classic Dodger Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Fenway Park, for reasons explained in those reviews.
  • Significantly revamped review and rating of Petco Park.  All photos in the gallery are new, along with vast majority of the content.
  • Photo gallery of Dodger Stadium
SunTrust Park review new

An in-depth review of the Atlanta Braves’ new SunTrust Park has been released! Clocking in at over 15,000 words, this is my longest review ever, and will be my longest and most comprehensive review for the foreseeable future (other upcoming reviews aren’t as long). Not only do I provide in-depth analysis of the setting, architecture & aesthetics, functionality, and amenities, but I also take time to discuss the three larger implications I see at SunTrust Park for the ballparks of the future.

Throughout the 2018 season:

  • All major league ballpark reviews will be revised for minor changes that occurred from 2014-2017 and edited for writing quality; many have already undergone these changes
  • New Cactus League spring training ballpark reviews, ratings, and rankings
  • All features, links, articles, and about pages will be updated and reformatted that haven’t been already
  • Significantly updated reviews and ratings Busch Stadium based on attendance at games
  • I will also finish some long overdue reviews
  • New, in-depth reviews of Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Chase Field, and Great American Ballpark
  • New feature pieces and research articles

We provided some much needed new content throughout 2017, and we plan to take that to the next level throughout 2018.  Much of the original content, especially the independent articles, date back from 2010 (written before website launch) to 2014.  2018 is a huge year for ballparks all across spring training and Major League Baseball, and we want ballparkratings.com to be a part of that.  I will be using the Facebook page for periodic updates and announcements relating to everything above.

Times change, and the ratings have been slightly altered for the first time since 2011:

Functionality:

  • State-of-the-art videoboards are now ubiquitous across major league baseball, with less differentiation between parks than ever before. So the “Scoreboard” rating will be changed from x/5 to x/3
  • Correspondingly, “Concourses” will be changed from x/5 to x/7, as ‘walkability’ has continued to be emphasized throughout the decade
  • Combined, “Functionality” still adds up to x/25

Amenities:

  • The most significant ballpark evolution throughout the past seven years has been an increase in the importance of social spaces. “Restaurants” has always been shorthand for “Accessible Restaurants/Bars/Sitting Areas,” which will change to “Accessible Restaurants/Bars/Sitting Areas/Social Spaces.” The rating will change from x/2 to x/5. There can be much differentiation between post-1991 ballparks here.
  • “Signature Food,” which serves to further emphasize the importance of serving regional concessions from high quality local restaurants, and can often serve as a proxy for food quality, will be changed from x/3 to x/2. More ballparks are doing this, so there is less differentiation
  • “Entertainment,” which is shorthand for kids playground areas most of the time, will be changed from x/5 to x/3
  • Combined, “Amenities” still adds up to x/25

I am excited for my 20th consecutive year of spring training!  After returning to the Cactus League last spring, we turn back to Florida with an ambitious schedule. We will cover a good amount of ground in Florida, starting in the Jupiter/Palm Beach area, then going all across the west side of the state before ending at the Disney complex near Orlando.

Here is what is on the docket for March 2019:

–Saturday March 9th, 1:05: Astros at Cardinals, Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, Jupiter, FL
–Saturday March 9th, 6:35: Marlins at Nationals, FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
–Sunday, March 10th, 1:05: Nationals at Astros, FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
–Monday, March 11th, 1:05: Tigers at Twins, Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers, FL
–Tuesday, March 12th, 1:05: Tigers at Red Sox, JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Ft. Myers, FL
–Tuesday, March 12th, 6:35: Orioles at Yankees, Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL
–Wednesday, March 13th, 1:05: Blue Jays at Orioles, Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota. FL
–Wednesday, March 13th, 6:35: Phillies at Yankees, Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL
–Thursday, March 14th, 1:05: Red Sox at Tigers, Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, FL
–Friday, March 15th, 1:05: Blue Jays at Phillies, Spectrum Field, Clearwater, FL
–Friday, March 15th, 6:05: Rays (ss) at Pirates, LECOM Park (McKechnie), Bradenton, FL
–Saturday, March 16th, 1:05: Pirates at Tigers, Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, FL
–Sunday, March 17th, 1:05: Astros at Braves (ss), Champion Stadium (Disney), Lake Buena Vista, FL

10 of 13 Grapefruit League venues will be visited this year. I will post profiles from past visits of the other 3.

I don’t yet have a tentative schedule for the 2019 regular season.  In 2018, we (re)visited PNC Park, Progressive Field, Kauffman Stadium, Minute Maid Park, Globe Life Park, Coors Field, Nationals Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium.  Almost every MLB park has now been assessed multiple times, but possibilities for 2019 include:

  • Miller Park (Milwaukee), Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati), Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago), Wrigley Field (Chicago), Comerica Park (Detroit), SunTrust Park (Atlanta), Minute Maid Park (Houston), and Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
  • I will be at Arlington for the final series at Globe Life Park
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Progressive Field, Petco Park, and Busch Stadium will be/have been rerated and re-reviewed!  These parks have undergone a lot of changes during the decade.

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News

NEW: SunTrust Park

SunTrust Park has opened to generally positive reviews. Atlanta’s pad is seen as the model for ballpark mixed-use development, and it’s amenities will burst the scale in our ratings.  But it’s the only ballpark I can remember with so little spoken about its architecture and aesthetics upon opening, which is telling. Perhaps that no longer matters.

Minute Maid Park renovations

Minute Maid Park underwent the most significant renovations in major league baseball in 2017.  Tal’s Hill was removed, and a bevy of new amenities were added in and above its former location.  Most notable are three different bars, the addition of Shake Shake and Torchy’s Tacos, and the new centerfield group space.

Yankee Stadium enhancements

Yankee Stadium added a number of fan friendly social spaces in the offseason.  New places to hang out were added in the outfield, main concourse, and the upper deck.  They also added a new kids area. The amenities were always great at Yankee Stadium, but they’ve now been democratized for all fans.

Featured Ballpark: AT&T Park

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On the edge of McCovey Cove, the Giants ballpark has the best views in all of baseball.  While Camden Yards is generally seen as the poster child of the ballpark building boom, AT&T Park is the biggest success story of the era, constructed with private financing and generating a huge boost in attendance.  Like I said, no ballpark transformed a team and its fan base quite like this.  Once you couple these factors with transcendental water views and amazing amenities, you easily have one of the best ballparks in baseball.