Stadium Journey’s Top 25 Minor League Ballparks of 2018
Another season of minor league baseball is about to conclude, and once again, Stadium Journey has visited all 160 affiliated minor league ballparks, rating each one according to our FANFARE scale. Ballparks are rated on the basis of their food and beverage offerings, gameday atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, return on investments, and an extra category for any special features not covered elsewhere.
Here we run down the 25 ballparks with the highest scores. In the case that two ballparks were tied, we used crowd reviews to settle the deadlock. It’s worth noting that every spot on our top 25 listing was settled using this tiebreaker. The scores were that close.
Without further ado, we present our rankings of the top 25 minor league ballparks.
Huntington Park is widely considered one of the elite parks of Minor League Baseball, and for good reason. Character abounds in every corner of the park, making it a great setting for exploring. Take in the tradition, the food and the sights here and take pride knowing you’ve been to one of the best around.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park is one of the true gems of the minor leagues. The team uses the slogan “Famous for Fun,” and it is hard to argue with them. Durham Bulls Athletic Park is one of the best parks in the minors in nearly every area, and it is backed by one of the best fan bases in minor league baseball.
Parkview Field ranks in the upper echelons of minor league ballparks in this country. It revitalized minor league baseball in Ft. Wayne, helped spur economic development in downtown, and attracts among the largest crowds in the Midwest League.
The old cliché, “There isn’t a bad seat in the house” definitely applies to Raley Field. Built in 2000, fan comfort and viewing ease were at the top of the priority list. Sightlines are great from any seat and lawn seating allows for an inexpensive way to bring the whole family.
FirstEnergy Stadium is one of oldest ballparks in minor league baseball but it is one of the best places to enjoy the game of baseball. The stadium is able to blend the past with the present and provides an atmosphere unlike anything else in the game. It is a spectacle of visuals, tastes, and sounds.
Charlotte is psyched about its new downtown ballpark. Fans are coming out in record numbers, and Knights games are the new big thing. After nearly 10 years of total apathy, it’s really great to see as a baseball fan. The city is energized, and it shows in ticket sales.
Whether you are a baseball fan or someone who just enjoys a fun night out, it is not hard to enjoy yourself at TicketReturn.com Field. The park provides a little something for everyone, and is just an overall great stadium experience. As anyone who has been there can tell you, Myrtle Beach is a great spot for a vacation, and adding a night out at the ballpark is a no-brainer.
Nat Bailey Stadium offers a first class experience for fans of all ages. It is an enjoyable and affordable way to spend an evening in Vancouver. The people who work at the stadium are very polite and helpful. The fun factor cannot be beaten, and wandering around the stadium gives spectators a sense of childlike joy.
A night out at Coca-Cola Park is one of exceptional value and pleasure. As a fan, one can appreciate the great lengths in which Lehigh Valley brass and game day staff go in order to insure that their fans are continually pleased with their experiences at the park. I actually can’t wait to get back!
The Epicenter is a truly beautiful venue, where the sun is likely always shining, and the tree-lined outfield fence is only overshadowed by the towering San Gabriel Mountains in the distance. One thing you will see a lot in the stands are blue clad fans. As in, Dodger Blue. Since joining the Dodgers farm system in 2011, the Quakes have added Dodger Blue to their color scheme and it shows in the stands as fans are dressed in both Quakes and Dodgers attire.
A trip to see the Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field is well worth your time and money. Fans young and old will quickly see why Max Klinger of M*A*S*H* was so enamored with the team. One trip to see the Mud Hens and you will definitely be yelling out “Holy Toledo!”
Back in the mid 80s, Buffalo was making a real and very serious pitch to Major League Baseball to be designated for one of the expansion teams being awarded to bring MLB up to 30 teams. A ballpark was designed, and constructed, with architecture and feel that had never been seen anywhere else in baseball. The retro look was born, and was emulated in countless new major and minor league stadiums built throughout the 1990s.
Dr Pepper Ballpark offers one of the best minor league baseball experiences, with an intimate setting in a populated area. The Frisco area is becoming a sports fan’s destination paradise, and the area continues to grow. If you’re in the Dallas area, be sure to give Dr Pepper Ballpark, the Choctaw Lazy River, and the Frisco RoughRiders a visit – seeing this park is well worth it for the unique entertainment experience.
Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis remains one of the premier spots to enjoy a minor league baseball game in the country; its design, setting, small improvements, and simplicity keep attracting fans again and again during the season. The team has been an institution in town since 1902 and has a stadium that is synonymous with baseball in Indianapolis.
The Dragons have become one of minor league sports great success stories. The team blends professional amenities (for fans and players alike) with the more casual environment of minor league baseball. Dayton’s Fifth Third Field offers one of the great baseball experiences in the minor leagues, and the Dragons sellout streak is well-earned.
In 2010, the Drillers moved to the brand new ONEOK Field (pronounced ONE-OAK) at the corner of Elgin and Brady in the Greenwood District of downtown Tulsa. After six years of play, this ballpark still contains its mid-western charm, and is a superb facility with a downtown view, plenty of food and beverage choices and has a family friendly environment in which to take in a minor league baseball game.
In a word, spectacular. The open air, free flowing atmosphere provides tremendous comfort and you find yourself coming to terms that you are at a minor league park with major league value. But there is more that makes it all come together so nicely.
Regions Field in Birmingham, Alabama might just be the future of ballpark construction. It covers all the bases from its downtown location, social areas, wide-open concourses, food variety, and access to local restaurants and living areas. It also incorporates a modern, sleek design unlike anything else in affiliated baseball today.
While many baseball fans in the Hartford area were initially critical of the Rock Cats’ move from the suburbs, and became increasingly vocal as the ballpark’s construction was delayed and cost overruns mounted, they have come out in solid numbers for the Yard Goats. Time will tell if this ballpark will age gracefully, but for now, it appears to be a venue well worth the wait for Hartford baseball fans.
Join the crowds and bask in the growing excitement around Spirit Communications Park in Columbia. It’s worth a trip, and is likely to evolve into one of the best Single-A experiences in the country as the area grows up. To quote the Fireflies’ announcer and billboards, “Let’s Glow.”
Four Winds Field Stu the Mascot, Photo by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey.
The transformation of Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium can be likened to a butterfly emerging from a cocoon or Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. The ballpark and the area around it has developed into a festive atmosphere with great food choices, areas for the kids to play, and great sight lines for the game on the field.
MCU Park in essence is the epitome of minor league baseball. Fun, wacky, colorful and local. The resurgence of the Coney Island neighborhood makes a trip to see the Cyclones a day-long affair and all the more satisfying is ending with a baseball game in a facility that fits in perfectly with the area. The stadium is designed beautifully with all the little things done right, thus making this a top notch ballpark.
Smokies Stadium is a hidden gem. The price is right, the fans and staff are great, there is plenty to do in the area, and eastern Tennessee is beautiful. All those factors make this ballpark worth going out of your way to enjoy.
Lifeguard Stand FirstEnergy Park, Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey.
FirstEnergy Park leads the pack as probably the best choice for minor league entertainment in New Jersey. What is most impressive is how the park still feels brand new; it hasn’t aged one bit since it was built. The exterior and interior of the building are well maintained. Perhaps looking its best with clear deep blue skies up above during the months of June and July.
The view from Modern Woodmen Park qualifies as one of the best in baseball. Albuquerque has a spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains, Salt Lake has a spectacular view of mountains, and Modern Woodmen’s view of the Mississippi and the Centennial Bridge is just as amazing. The view at night with Centennial Bridge lit up is worth the price of admission by itself.
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