In The Ballpark

New baseball stadiums have gone up faster than one per year in the last decade. Here's a look at the pros and cons for each of them.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

November 1, 2001

6 Min Read

It's been nearly 10 years since the baseball park "renaissance" in Baltimore. Since then, other charming stadiums have opened -- most, if not all, with the same retro feel. Nonetheless, with the World Series having just ended, we pitch one more baseball story before hibernation, looking at these newer stadiums and their best and worst features.

The following list compiles opinions from InformationWeek staff members, friends of staff members, people down the hall, and random strangers we grabbed off the street -- which may explain why one stadium's pro is another's con.

Arizona, Bank One Ballpark
Best baseball feature: The homage to old-time infield design, with a dirt path from mound to home.

Coolest feature: Right outside the park is a designated fan ticket-scalping area, where you can comfortably and legally negotiate a walk-up sale.

It could dump: While the dome is necessary, the giant wall in the outfield plus the dome makes you feel like the game is being played in a high school gym.

Most missed from previous stadium: Not applicable; this is the Diamondbacks' first home.

Atlanta, Turner Field
Best baseball feature: All seats have good views, including those in the back of the lower deck.

Coolest feature: Standing room in the outfield pavilion. You can watch the game in a picnic atmosphere, while enjoying food and a beverage.

It could dump: The misleading signage in the parking areas and in the stadium. It's easy to get misdirected.

Oh, I miss! from Fulton County Stadium: The stadium's blandness didn't distract from the game.

Baltimore, Camden Yards
Best baseball feature: The seven-story brick warehouse, built at the turn of the century for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It serves as a backdrop in right field and extends behind the centerfield scoreboard.

Coolest feature: Boog's Barbecue behind the bleachers in right-center field, in the pedestrian walkway of Eutaw Street, running in front of the warehouse. During the game, fans can see the smoke rising from the barbecue pits. Boog is Boog Powell, the fun-loving, wide-waisted former first baseman for the Orioles.

It could dump: Because the Orioles have skillfully marketed themselves as "the Orioles" and not "the Baltimore Orioles" -- unlike most teams, they don't wear their hometown on their road jerseys -- the stands at "the Yard" are full of suits who catch the train from D.C. As a result, the crowds are full of people who know little about baseball or Baltimore traditions, such as tomato sandwiches or National Bohemian beer; they wouldn't know a steamed crab if one bit them on the toe.

Oh, I miss! from Memorial Stadium: Wild Bill Hagy, cabbie by day, devoted fan by night, with a long mustache and cowboy hat who led cheers in Section 34 of Memorial Stadium. He was famous for getting the crowd riled up.

Cleveland, Jacob's Field
Best baseball feature: Like most modern stadiums, almost all the seats provide a good, well-rounded view of the diamond.

Coolest feature: The home-run porch, which is a walkway around the outside of the stadium. At a certain point in left field, it allows standing spectators the possibility of catching a long home run. Also, the view of downtown Cleveland over the outfield seats.

It could dump: Seats that are angled around corners that abbreviate the view of the diamond.

Oh, I miss! from Municipal Stadium: Nostalgic, cavernous steel-and-girder construction.

Denver, Coors Field
Best baseball feature: Wild games, because of the spacious outfield. The outfield is far back, to avoid a lot of home runs in the light air.

Coolest feature: The view of the Rockies.

It could dump: The sale of Rocky Mountain Oysters, a.k.a. bull testicles. Yes, this is food, but in no way does it fall under the heading of "America's pastime."

Oh, I miss! from Mile High Stadium: Volume, both seating capacity and noise-making. Mile High Stadium held 80,000.

Detroit, Comerica Park
Best baseball feature: No pillars creating obstructed-view seats.

Coolest feature: Freedom to walk 360 degrees around the park's interior while keeping a great view of the field. In second place: the statues of Tiger greats in left field.

It could dump: Excessively high prices on those "Tiger Den" tickets. Also, the dirt path to the mound.

Most-missed feature from Tiger Stadium: Centerfield bleachers and the right-field upper deck overhang.

Houston, Enron Field
Best baseball feature: A return to a grass field and open-air stadium (when the retractable roof is open, anyway).

Coolest feature: An 1860s replica of a steam locomotive that runs on an 800-foot track above left field.

It could dump: Small outfield that allows for too many runs.

Most missed feature: Houston humidity and bugs when the retractable roof is closed.

Milwaukee, Miller Park
Best baseball feature: Seats very close to the field, to a fault; in some seats you can't see a corner of the outfield.

Coolest feature: Retractable roof, hands down. Your days of worrying about rainouts and freezing are over. Ties with: the race involving the Polish sausage, Italian sausage, Bratwurst, and hot dog. Not real sausages -- they're people in costume.

It could dump: The ubiquitous advertising. The only way to avoid seeing an ad is to close your eyes.

Oh, I miss! from Milwaukee County Stadium: Traditional bleachers (and those 39-degree April games). Ties with: Mascot Bernie Brewer no longer splashes into beer after a Brewer home run; he only slides to a lower level from his chalet.

Pittsburgh, PNC Park
Best baseball feature: Statue honoring the late, great Willie "Pops" Stargell. Ties with: the elimination of Astroturf.

Coolest feature: Great view of the city's bridges and skyline.

It could dump: Nothing. It was done right.

Oh, I miss! from Three Rivers Stadium: The good teams that played there.

San Francisco, Pacific Bell Park
Best baseball feature: Splash hits into McCovey Cove. (Already great trivia: Which Giant has the only two splash hits not slammed by Barry Bonds? Utilityman Felipe Crespo, traded to the Phils in mid-2001.)

Coolest feature: The view of San Francisco Bay from the upper deck. Sightseeing along with baseball. Catch a game when there's a full moon; the moon rises behind the scoreboard in right center.

It could dump: Elevators and staircases "exclusively" for the big-bucks crowd in the Club and Field levels. Why do they need to come up to the cheap seats, anyway?

Feature most missed from Candlestick Park: Frostbite.

Seattle, Safeco Field
Best baseball feature: A crowd that comes to see the game and have a good time. Good sight lines throughout the park, even the upper deck.

Coolest feature: Sliding roof, a necessity in Seattle. Sushi stand in the land of Ichiro. Dynamite views of sunsets and ferries on Puget Sound.

It could dump: It was done right. Way cool stadium.

Most missed feature: From the King Dome? Are you kidding?

Texas, The Ballpark in Arlington
Best baseball feature: Good food.

Coolest feature: The weird collage of ballpark-architectural homages.

It could dump: Turn down the music!

Oh, I miss! from Arlington Stadium: The enormous seating capacity of the bleachers. You never can have enough cheap seats!

Agree? Disagree? Tell us your opinions of the newer ballparks -- such as the pool at the Bank One Ballpark -- in the Water Cooler discussion forum.

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