Next week I go to Seattle. It's for work, but I'll have my evenings free.
So you'd better believe one of the first things I did when I knew where I was going was to check the Mariners schedule. And they're home.
So Safeco Field is next on my list of ballpark visits.
And it occurs to me that you might be planning some ballpark visits of your own this summer, and maybe I can help.
So here's the first of two entries - ballparks I've been to, and where you should go.
This is the first time I've listed the places I've been - my wife is better at this. I'm surprised that I'm almost halfway through my ballpark visits. Here's a list of my suggestions, in order of preference, with relevant links if I've written about them before:
1. Citi Field
- I love this ballpark
. Each time I go there's something new about it that I like. It's the rare new park on this list that I've been to more than once, so I've explored it more. (I will be going to a couple of games in Seattle, so Safeco gets that treatment as well.)
2. PETCO Park
- Where the Mets go (once a year). Not only is the ballpark a great place to enjoy a game, but San Diego is beautiful and the weather is always great. I would love to go back to Petco.
3. Minute Maid Park - I think it's Minute Maid Park? I was there right after Enron went under, and it was being called Astros Park. But I love this park - it's fun. I don't mind that hill in center field, I don't mind the short left field wall - I like the Houston ballpark. I did not like Houston so much - we went in May, and it was way hot. I think I dehydrated myself. I imagine summertime is worse. That affected my enjoyment of the city.
4. Fenway Park
- I think the Red Sox blew it by renovating Fenway instead of building a new ballpark...but Fenway is still a great place to be. It's funny, because there are places in the park now (most notably the concourses) where it looks like a 2000's era ballpark...but then you sit in some of the seats and are taken right back to 1912. Still, if you haven't been, you should go.
5. PNC Park - I love the backdrop, the bridges. What a beautiful ballpark the Pirates have. Too bad the team is terrible, and the city is not much better. (Read an article about this very topic in this week's Sports Illustrated.
) We drove, and it took forever to get there and there wasn't a ton to do in the city besides the game. But if you're in the area, check it out. One of my favorites.
6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards - It's the original throwback ballpark. It's the one to compare all of the newer ones to. If you're doing one of these trips, Baltimore has to be on your list. And the city is pretty nice as well.
7. Progressive Field
- Kind of like Baltimore - it's one of the first of the 'new' parks. I thought it was a great place to watch a ballgame. Cleveland was a bit of a disappointment, though. I thought the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was terrible. Go for a game and then move on.
8. Citizens Bank Park - Nice park. I don't have great memories of my visit because the Mets got embarrassed by the Phillies when we were there, but it was a nice park. The set-up is cool - you can walk past and get right up close to the visitor's bullpen. I would have liked better seats when we went there, but it's a nice park. Also, Philadelphia is a great city if you like American history.
9. Great American Ballpark
- I was kind of surprised, but I really liked the Reds' ballpark. They do an excellent job of capturing their franchise history. Great team Hall of Fame, good history scattered through the concourses. We stayed across the river in Kentucky (didn't know they were that close), and it was better than advertised. (I had low expectations set by Ohio natives.)
10. Chase Field - Another name change - when I was there it was 'Bank One Ballpark'. I would not make this a top choice. Better than some of the parks I write about below, but very warehouse-ish. Felt pretty sterile. It was the only dome I had been to at that point in my life, so I guess that's what a dome feels like. (The Astros Park had the roof closed midway through the game - it felt like baseball the whole time.) The pool idea is cool and everything, but it didn't really feel like you're watching a baseball game. It's like you went to a warehouse and a ballgame happened to be there.
11. Dodger Stadium
- Kind of cool considering it was built in 1962. For an old ballpark it felt kind of modern. I didn't have the greatest time, though, and perhaps that's because I didn't like Los Angeles at all, and I couldn't wait for the game to be over so that we could get out of town.
12. Nationals Park
- Not a bad park, but a little plain. Probably because of how bad the team is - I think it's missing a lot of amenities that are sponsored at a lot of places. Couldn't believe how much the park was like the Cincinnati park - but it was like Great American Lite...if you're choosing between the two, Cincinnati has the better park, Washington, of course, has the better city to explore.
(For the record, of the old stadiums I have been to Shea Stadium, the old Yankee Stadium, and Veterans Stadium.)
Over the All Star break, I'll also preview the parks I haven't been to yet. Look for that under the title "Where I'm Going".