The 2013 Major League Baseball season is officially underway, and the last round of Home Openers will be played today. However, we all know the season doesn’t really heat up until the end of May or so. That means you’ve still got plenty of time to plan your summer road trips to some of the game’s best venues. And, to aid you in your planning, today we present our 2013 MLB ballpark rankings.
One of the most interesting things about this list is how good most Major League ballparks are these days. There are a few truly bad ones, a few unexciting-but-passable ones, and then 20 or so pretty great places to take in a baseball game. It’s actually kind of amazing. That being said, there are also a handful of ballparks that still stand out from the rest as the cream of the crop.
So what criteria were used for these rankings? Well, we were going to try to be all scientific and assign scores to each ballpark in a variety of categories, such as food, overall price, aesthetics, location, and so on. But of course, at the end of the day, any attempt to be scientific would still have been met with ire from fans angry that we slighted their sacred baseball shrine. Moreover, what makes baseball special is that, despite our attempts to quantify it, it remains ineffable. No other pro sport is romanticized as much as baseball, so it doesn’t seem right to apply rigid formulas in assessing its stadiums.
Instead, we decided to go with what I like to call an “informed gut feeling.” We created an ordered set of priorities to work with—the architecture, the view, the location, the fans, the food, the team—all of which combine to create that ethereal quality known as “atmosphere.” Then we made exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Keep in mind, though, that the goal isn’t to rank the ballparks in terms of “overall fan experience.” It doesn’t matter if a stadium has a tram system to take you to your car, a daycare for your kids, or tangy Thai gourmet nacho sliders. This is a list of the best ballparks for actually watching baseball. That’s why aesthetic qualities trump everything else here.
So, are you ready to take a look at the list? Then let’s get to it…