Colorado Rockies

Coors Field

Denver, CO

Year Opened: 1995

Capacity: 50,144

Grade: 88 Ranking: #7/27*

A Timeless Experience in Denver

Despite miscalculated, though well-intentioned interior aesthetics, Coors Field functionally took retro to a new level; exudes classic ballpark vibe; 2010s enhancements have been strong

Number of games seen: 6, plus 1 Home Run Derby
First game: July 2001
Most recent game: July 13, 2021 (All-Star Game)

 

PHOTO GALLERY at bottom of page

 

By: Cole Shoemaker
Written in 2012, updated in 2021, ratings updated yearly when necessary

*Classic parks Wrigley FieldFenway Park, and Dodger Stadium are not ranked or rated for reasons previously outlined in those reviews 

 

Coors Field is one of those ballparks that everybody raves about, but you don’t really know why until you go.

 

So, here’s the funny thing about Coors Field: I think its most cited feature, the sweeping mountain vistas, are overrated because they are rarely spectacular and not visible from most seats.  Only if you’re sitting (a) in the right place, (b) at the right time, (c) under the exact right conditions do you have one of the most aesthetically notable experiences in baseball.  From most vantage points, and all vantage points the vast majority of the time, Coors Field’s interior visuals are pretty underwhelming.

 

But at the same time, it’s pretty damn hard not to like Coors Field.

 

I don’t know whether it’s the great fans, the nice ushers, or just the thin rocky mountain air, but it has that certain subjective feel that makes it a great place to watch a game. There’s also so little wrong with Coors Field objectively, it’s really hard to criticize.

 

Coors Field views

At dusk if you happen to be sitting down the right field line, Coors Field has some of the best panoramic views in baseball. If you’re sitting anywhere else, at any other time, Denver’s ballpark is aesthetically unremarkable, more geared toward functionality. But that doesn’t prevent it from being a great ballpark.

Features fans don’t always cite—the local scene, the exterior, the sightlines, the brewery, the new Rooftop, the new video system shaped like a mountain, and various other little touches—are spectacular.  The Rockies’ ballpark is so well-rounded, while possessing some exceptional amenities added during 2010s enhancements, most of which you have to be there to really “get.”

 

Before my first revisit in 2011, I remember thinking Coors Field was pretty overrated.  Indeed, Coors Field doesn’t have the fantastic views or urban integration you would expect for such an outstanding location, primarily because of the way they chose to orient the ballpark.  Integrating the mountain views into the ballpark down the left field line is fantastic in theory, but like I said, views like the ones pictured here are rare.  We see the urban environment seep in at ballparks in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.  Where’s the red brick of LoDo on the inside of Coors Field?

 

But everything about else about Coors Field continues to grow on me.

 

In stark contrast to some of the more contrived and gimmicky retro parks of the 2000s, it has a simple, uncluttered interior design that stands the test of time.  Coors has many objective assets that seem to translate into it being the next Wrigley or Fenway, perhaps even more so than Camden Yards or the flashier retro parks.

 

First off, Coors Field fits in with its surroundings unlike any other new ballpark. If you never went to one of the classic ballparks, you might romantically imagine how Tiger Stadium or Ebbets Field was part of the community, how by the end, it looked like it had been there forever.

 

You know how when you’re walking north on Jersey Street toward Fenway Park, you do a double take once you reach the stadium, because the structure is just so perfectly interwoven with the urban fabric?  Or like when walking north on Clark toward Wrigley, the ballpark surprises you by how seamlessly it blends in with its surroundings?

 

Coors Field is the only modern-day MLB ballpark to present a similar sensibility on the outside.  Mimicking the turn of the century red brick buildings nearby, Coors Field is one with LoDo.

 

Coors Field LoDo

Coors Field fits in with its surroundings like a glove.

Not only does it visually belong, but LoDo itself has a local bar and restaurant scene that rivals that of San Diego or Chicago. All things considered, the Rockies’ pad might have the best “setting” in the majors.

 

You couple this timeless feel and great local scene with a gorgeous exterior, and you have the makings an automatic gem. I’ve often expressed a low tolerance towards derivative brick facades, but this one is probably the best in baseball.

 

Second, the Rockies have been disciplined about enhancing Coors Field, somewhat like Progressive Field (1994) in Cleveland.  Headlined by The Rooftop in the right field upper deck, the renovations are both fan friendly and in keeping with the park’s original character.

 

The final reason Coors Field has an upper hand among parks of its era is that it was the first retro park to functionally improve on what Camden had done.  Unlike early modern-day throwback ballparks in Baltimore and Cleveland, we have an open main concourse with great field visibility, seats properly oriented toward the action down the lines, and all-around good sightlines.

 

At the end of the day, it seems to me that Coors Field really benefited from great timing. Derived from authenticity in 1995, it’s retro before the aesthetic became passé, free from contrivances or gimmicks. But at the same time, the architects fixed many of the functional flaws seen in Camden Yards and Progressive Field and established a template for the modern-day retro park.

NEXT - Setting

Gallery

Scorecard:

Setting: 10/10

Location/Access: 5/5

Local Scene: 5/5

Architecture & Aesthetics: 24.5/33

Exterior Design: 8.5/10

Interior Aesthetics: 10/15

Panoramic View: 3.5/5

Concourses: 2.5/3

Functionality: 20/25

Sightlines: 8/10

Seat Comfort: 3.5/5

Concourses: 5.5/7

Scoreboard: 3/3

Amenities: 19.5/25

Concessions: 4/5

Signature Food: 2/2

Restaurants: 5/5

Premium Services: 4/5

Historic References: 3/5

Entertainment: 1.5/3

Miscellaneous: 14

Atmosphere/Fans: 5/5

Ballpark Policies: 2/2

Bonus: 7

Conclusion

Final Score: 88