Major League Baseball’s 30 ballparks are all unique and offer great experiences for fans — here’s the best each park has to offer.
I am a baseball fan through and through, so I feel comfortable saying that no other professional sport can offer the same atmosphere as a rocking baseball stadium on a summer evening. I’ve been to NFL, NBA and NHL games. Their arenas and stadiums simply do not compare to the fan experience at a baseball game.
Obviously there are extenuating circumstances that can bump the fan experience at a football game or basketball game up and push a baseball game down. I’d much rather go to the Super Bowl or NBA Finals than a mid-week game between the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles, but in terms of deciding to go to a random, run-of-the-mill game, baseball has the best fan experience.
Currently exactly halfway through my own quest to see a game in all 30 MLB ballparks, I’ll do my best here to give my own insight into what makes each park great with my own personal experience and anecdotes from other fans who have been to the stadiums I haven’t yet checked off.
There have been several waves of ballpark design over MLB’s long history, starting with the very intimate urban smallparks, transitioning into the suburban multi-use cookie cutters dropped into parking lots, all the way back to the vintage, urban feel. At this point in time, nearly every MLB stadium is situated in a downtown area, surrounded by plenty of appealing pre and postgame attractions. That only adds to the fan experience, but this post will focus mostly on the actual in-game experiences at each MLB stadium.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Swimming in the pool
Baseball was clearly not meant to be played in the desert, but when Phoenix makes its way into the top five for biggest cities in America, you close your eyes, build a massive air-conditioned structure and hope it somehow works out. At least that’s the thought process I assume Major League Baseball went through when deciding to expand into Arizona with the Diamondbacks. Despite their large market size, the D’backs, like every other major sports team in Phoenix, has struggled to win consistently.
The Diamondbacks play in a monstrous, cavernous dome right in the heart of downtown Phoenix, if you can call it that. The city itself does not have a traditional downtown like older cities and just sort of sprawls out for miles and miles. Chase Field just towers over the parking garages, strip malls and low-slung apartment buildings nearby, while the real nightlife gets busy over in Scottsdale.
I have not attended a game at Chase Field, but I have driven around the area and there really isn’t much going on. The domed structure itself is very modern and sterile on the inside. The most notable feature of the stadium is the pool in right-center field. Fans can watch the game from the water, while teams that win division titles or lock up playoff spots can celebrate. Just don’t pee in the pool if you’re a visiting team or you’ll be forced to engage the Diamondbacks in a years-long feaux rivalry.