On our recent California vacation Aubrey and I added two more major league baseball stadiums to our list. I'd been to both of the old stadiums in San Diego and San Fransisco, but the new ones were major improvements. So for your enjoyment and mine, I thought I'd rank the ones I've been to in terms of quality of (my) experience.
1. Wrigley Field. As a lifelong Cubs fan this ranking might be accused of being subjective and emotionally based. Yeah? So? Wrigley is an awesome stadium. It was a downtown stadium before downtown stadiums were cool. If you're a baseball fan at all, a trip to the friendly confines is worth it. The beauty of the ivy, the experience of the bleachers, the hand operated scoreboard, the lack of jumbo-tron, the flags blowing out, Harry Carey singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame off pitch back in the day, the non-corporate sponsor based name, the view of the Sears tower, the historic marquee, Clark and Addison, Waveland and Sheffield, the majority of day games. And if the Cubbies win one, its even better.
2. AT & T, San Fransisco. The Old Candlestick was pretty horrible for baseball, but the new AT & T is pretty excellent. Its still cold at night in San Fransisco, but now sitting out in the cold is worth it. The views of the bay are so stunning that its easy to lose track of the game. The chance of a homerun ball going in the bay is pretty cool. And it is perhaps the only downtown stadium that provides parking, no small feat in downtown San Fransisco.
3. Petco, San Diego. This is another serious improvement. The old Qualcomm (nee Jack Murphy) out in the valley was pretty blah, a generic staduim surrounded by a sea of concrete. But Petco is a beautiful old timey stadium right in the heart of downtown San Diego, one of my favorite cities in the world. The stadium includes a park for the kids, and an old building was incorperated into the stadium, rather than being torn down.
4. The Old Busch, St. Louis. Ironically (for a Cubs fan) this is another sentimental favorite. You could see down into it from the top of the Arch, Steve Stone famously quipped at a hot and humid midsummer Cubs game, "Its a beautiful day for baseball, if you're a fern." And on April 5, 2003, at a Cards-Astros game, in the upper left field seats, I held Aubrey's hand for the first time ever. The new Busch looks awfully nice too, but it was sold out the one day we tried to go, and the scalpers were all overpriced.
5. Progressive Field, Cleveland. This is the only AL stadium on the list, but if they're all like this, then I like them. The stadium was one highlight of an excellent Cleveland vacation last summer around Austin and Elise's wedding. Stadium is pretty, we had fun with the new in-laws, and Grady Sizemore hit a home run.
6. Coors, Denver. As a psuedo-Coloradan, one might think this would rank higher, but for some reason it doesn't. Maybe because its been a long time since my last visit. It is a nice stadium though, with good views of Denver and the Rockies, nice sunsets, lots of home runs, and volatile weather. Me and Dad once caught a Cubs game there, and with two outs in the bottom of the eighth the game was delayed for over an hour by a thunderstorm. Dad and I had to leave our upper deck seats because of lightning. And when the game resumed an hour later, there were only a couple hundred fans left, and we had awesome seats behind the first base dugout for those last four outs. And ten minutes later the Cubs lost and we headed home.
7. Turner, Atlanta. This is my closest "home" stadium, and we make the yearly visit when the Cubs are in town, but still, it doesn't do much for me. Its pretty enough. Maybe if we saw the Cubs win more often I'd like it more.
8. The Vet, Philadelphia. In the tradition of stadiums built in the 60's and 70's it was a multi-purpose circle of concrete blahness.