The Ballparks: Parks of Today
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California
Forget Disneyland. For the Angels, the Happiest Place on Earth is the little slice of heaven they call the Big A, a plot of ex-farmland that once grew oranges and alfalfa but now spawns Salmon and Trout. And like your real housewives of the OC, the middle-age palace has undergone its share of makeovers—with the third time under the knife looking to be the sun-splashed charm.
AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
In the annals of baseball, home runs have landed in places as varied as apartments, auto dealerships and snowbanks. But hardly ever into water. AT&T Park, with its glorious views of San Francisco Bay, has become the first park in the majors to allow a crushing drive to make a splash landing, past the slim right-field bleachers and into aptly-named McCovey Cove—where a potpourri of aquatic adventurists anxiously await their chance to scoop up a souvenir.
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
Domed facilities have always been necessary to keep out rain, cold, snow, humidity and mosquitoes. But why plant a roof in an idyllic sun-splashed destination like Phoenix? Remember, winter tourists, the off-season occurs in summer—when the ground bakes at triple digits even after sunset. The people behind Chase Field certainly kept that in mind, but just to keep things fair, they threw in baseball’s most famous swimming pool.
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
The City of Angels felt the need to give the Dodgers the best chunk of available real estate in the Southland, literally moving mountains to wedge a jewel of a ballpark into the sloping, sun-baked Earth amid palm trees and Pacific breezes. Within sight of downtown and the towering San Gabriel Mountains in the distance, it’s a ballpark you can only love but cannot label. It’s not retro. It’s not modern. It’s just…perfect. It’s time for Dodger Stadium.
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
The home of baseball’s First Team is not so much a ballpark but an array of inviting neighborhoods, a diverse riverfront community that embraces old and new alike and opens its patio to the Ohio River with charm to rival a Mark Twain novel. Want a peak? It’s easy to do from the water, and not much tougher from downtown thanks to the intriguing gap that allows fans to see the city and vice versa.
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California
Correcting Gertrude Stein, there would be a ‘there’ there in Oakland once the Coliseum and adjacent arena opened their doors to a flood of interested tenants—including the A’s, who high-tailed from the Midwest and have called the laid-back facility home ever since, through great times and those awful, through latter-day stigmas of overflowed sewage and an Everest of a football expansion that has left a small but loyal fan base plugging their noses and covering their eyes.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
To say that nostalgia was at the forefront of those behind Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the understatement of yesteryear. The Baltimore Orioles went back to the city, to the very spot where Babe Ruth’s father used to serve drinks, and built a baseball fortress unlike anything seen since Ebbets Field met the wrecking ball. They even rethought the overlong and ancient B&O Warehouse behind right field, embracing rather than destroying it—thus transforming urban blight into trendy atmospherics.
Petco Park, San Diego, California
The city gave the Padres a Quarter, and the Padres gave back something priceless. Petco Park is the perfect ballpark for the perfect climate, a verdant place where laid-back San Diegans can break out the picnic blanket, unfold the beach chair or grab a stool atop a historic landmark before taking a leisurely stroll to adjacent streets lined with gaslamps, restaurants and bars to wash away the latest 1-0 result.
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
If the Pittsburgh Pirates sense that they’re being ignored by their faithful at PNC Park, they shouldn’t take it personally; after all, the team’s only competition isn’t sitting in the visitors’ dugout. Spectators are easily distracted by mesmerizing views of downtown Pittsburgh, the Allegheny River and the Sixth Street Bridge, now named after Pirates legend Roberto Clemente. After thirty years of being locked in at Three Rivers Stadium, who can blame them?
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
Chances are, there’s a thesaurus out there that lists Seattle as a synonym for the word “rain.” Perception does not always equal reality; outside of California and Arizona, Seattle is the driest major league city during the baseball season. But at Safeco Field, a retractable roof stands at the ready—just in case.
Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
How do you conceive and build a track and field facility for the Summer Olympics, tear it apart afterwards and convert it to a ballpark? Ask the folks in Atlanta, where running tracks became warning tracks, ovals became diamonds, and flags became foam tomahawks. A year after its opening, Olympic Stadium would become Turner Field, and on its stage the Braves would replace the world’s athletes and extend its reign of excellence.
U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, Illinois
Approved at the stroke of midnight—give or take a minute—U.S. Cellular Field was built to be the king of ballparks but became passé within a year, a soulless venue everyone loved to hate with its vertigo-inducing upper deck and refusal to integrate with the neighborhood. Better late than never, the Chicago White Sox took a decade to catch up to the past and have righted some of the wrongs.
On Deck: Fenway Park, Boston
In the Hole: Comerica Park, Detroit
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