Fan-Friendly Major League Baseball Stadiums
Major League Baseball stadiums aren't created equal. A quirk of baseball is that parks need not have standard dimensions, like football fields or basketball courts. But more than the outfield dimensions, fan-friendly MLB stadiums combine comfort and atmosphere for a unique experience. Hopefully, the home team's on a winning streak to make the day spent there all the more enjoyable.
Orioles' Camden Yards
The home of the Baltimore Orioles, Camden Yards was the first of the new "retro" ballparks. The design deliberately harkened back to traditional parks, with fans closer to the action. The stadium's sight lines were lauded for creating "great seats everywhere," along with the layout of the facilities for fan access. Camden Yards has a capacity of 45,971 fans, after luxury boxes and concession areas were remodeled. According to TripAdvisor, Camden Yards ranks third amongst baseball stadiums fans love to visit and is particularly favored for its restaurants.
Pirates' PNC Park
In accordance with the trend toward "baseball-only" stadiums, Pittsburgh tore down Three Rivers Stadium, where the Pirates and Steelers shared a home, to build two new ones. The Pirates play at PNC Park, often mentioned as the best or one of the best places to catch a major league game. PNC Park, just outside the downtown area, has a splendid view of the city's skyline. In fact, unlike most other ballparks, the home team dugout is on the third-base side, so that the Pirates can look out on it. The infield dirt is a blend called Dura Edge All-Star Mix, and no other ballpark uses it. The stadium has statues of Honus Wagner, Bill Mazeroski, Willie Stargell, and Roberto Clemente, and the bridge that crosses the river from the downtown area to the park also bears the name of Clemente, the Hall of Fame right fielder of the Pirates from 1955 to 1972. Seating capacity is 39,434, the third lowest in MLB, while the concessions stands offer 48 choices.
Cubs' Wrigley Field
Any park known as "The Friendly Confines" has to be fan-friendly. The second-oldest ballpark still in use, Wrigley Field sits on Chicago's North Side and has been the home of the Cubs since 1916. The stadium is distinctly identified by the ivy that covers the outfield walls, and by groups of fans that gather atop or within nearby buildings to watch the games. Seating capacity is 41,009, and Wrigley consistently makes annual Top 10 lists of parks baseball fans should visit. A tradition at Wrigley is the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th-inning stretch, often led by a celebrity not known for singing well.
Giants' AT&T Park
The home of the San Francisco Giants, located at 24 Willie Mays Plaza, opened in 2000. Built without public funds, the 41,915-person capacity stadium is nestled against San Francisco Bay, offering a lovely view for fans in most seats. The right-field fence is 24-feet high, in honor of Giants great Willie Mays, who wore number 24. Beyond it, you will often see kayakers in McCovey Cove, waiting to catch home runs that splash into the waters. Statues outside the park honor Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, and Orlando Cepeda, teammates in the 1960s. AT&T Park is not only fan-friendly, it is pitcher-friendly, too, ranked as the best park for pitchers in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Rockies' Coors Field
Sitting high in the Rockies, Coors Field in Denver is the home of the Colorado Rockies. It seats 50,480 fans, with excellent sight lines from all sections, similar to Camden Yards and PNC Park. Though the seats are dark green, the 20th row in the upper deck is orange, marking one mile above sea level in the Mile High City. Behind the right-field fence you'll find the Blue Moon Brewery, a microbrewer that has already had a namesake beer picked up for mass production by the Coors Company. Behind the center-field wall is a landscape miniature of the Rocky Mountains, with waterfall, fountains, and pine trees. The variety of food at Coors Field is a fan favorite, ranging from sushi and veggie dogs to spare ribs and Rocky Mountain oysters.
Royals' Kauffman Stadium
Known as "The K," The Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium is named after the team's original owner, Ewing Kauffman. Built in the 1970s, the heyday of "cookie cutter" multipurpose stadiums, The K seemed to avoid the bad things about them and preserve the good. Stadium seating is in a semi-circular arrangement, with upper decks that aren't too steep, and most seats have excellent views. The big attraction is the Water Spectacular, which at 322 feet is the largest privately funded fountain in the world. Seating is just 37,917, one of the smallest of any park in MLB. A dynamic high-definition screen and scoreboard keeps the crown informed and entertained. One seat behind home plate, painted orange, is known as the "Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat," in honor of the famous Negro League player and long-time ambassador of baseball. Worthy community members are nominated and those selected get to watch the game from O'Neil's seat, free of charge.
With 30 MLB stadiums across the nation, you have plenty to choose from. The six listed above get raves from hometown fans and visitors alike, and offer more than just a seat and a baseball game. Exploring each park and its environs combines visiting the game's past and enjoying its present popularity. If you get the chance, wend your way into one of these fan-friendly venues.