Just because these stadiums rank fairly low in my overall rating of the 45 parks I’ve seen MLB games played in, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the baseball there. Baseball’s great no matter where it’s played. But these places all left something to be desired in terms of amenities, sightlines or other issues.
40) Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego (last attended, 1991)
Maybe it’s the 1984 NLCS that gives me bad memories of this place. It wasn’t just the fact that the Cubs lost the series. Padres fans were nasty to Cubs fans there, some friends reported to me that they had nails thrown at them. They seemed almost happier that the Cubs lost than their team won.
I didn’t go back there until 1991, when I saw the Cubs take another tough loss, 4-2. I did get to see Greg Maddux hit a home run that afternoon, though.
As was typical for stadiums built in that era (1967), it was located in a giant sea of parking lots:
Also, note that the ramps are all located outside the stadium. This was done in part so that there would be no obstructing posts blocking views from some seats. Unfortunately, that meant the upper levels would have to be cantilevered from behind, making many of the seats quite far from the action. That’s where I wound up sitting for Game 5 of the 1984 NLCS, on the first-base side... felt like watching baseball from the top of a 100-story building.
The Padres moved out in 2004 and the stadium is now home to the San Diego State University Aztecs football team.
39) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland (last attended, 2013)
You’ve heard all the stories about raw sewage (true) and the awful sightlines, made worse by “Mount Davis” in center field, a seating area built for the Oakland Raiders that no one liked even for football, and that was closed for baseball seating.
Before that monstrosity was built, the stadium actually had nice views of the East Bay hills:
Again, this is a 1960s-era stadium built surrounded by parking lots. It’s easy to get to and the A’s don’t draw real well even when they’re winning (they have broken the two-million attendance mark just once in the last 15 seasons), so traffic is rarely a problem. It’s also easily accessible by public transit (BART). It’s had a number of corporate names over the last couple of decades, but as of now it’s known again by its original name.
Even if you buy a lower box seat, you’re going to be far from the field — note the huge foul territory there due to the multi-sport configuration — and sightlines aren’t really any good from anywhere. The big scoreboards you see in center field above have been replaced by tiny boards at the top of the upper deck, barely visible.
It takes a long time to get to seats, the concourses are poorly lit and it’s all dingy concrete, though the A’s have attempted to gussy it up with colorful banners. As you can see above, the upper deck is completely tarped off, reducing capacity for baseball to about 35,000. They’ve opened it for some playoff games, but for the regular season, that’s plenty.
The A’s should have been allowed to move to San Jose years ago — here are some nice-looking renderings of a proposed ballpark there — but the Giants selfishly blocked them. The A’s don’t have a huge fanbase but those they do have are passionate and loyal. Many bring musical instruments and drums to the games. It’s actually charming, not annoying. They deserve better; hopefully, they’ll get a new park soon, although the COVID-19 pandemic might delay plans they have for a downtown Oakland stadium.
38) Tokyo Dome, Tokyo (last attended, 2000)
The Tokyo Dome, seen at the top of this post, has an inflatable roof quite similar to the Metrodome, and the seating and sightlines are similar. It’s nicknamed “The Big Egg” for obvious reasons, and yes, that is a giant roller coaster right next door:
I probably shouldn’t diss this place too much. Japanese fans I met during my trip there in 2000 were universally friendly and fun to talk to — yes, talk to, many speak English. I enjoyed seeing Cubs baseball halfway across the world, and the food selections, though different, were tasty and not expensive.
But as a baseball stadium, it’s pretty meh. For years, attendance at all games at the Tokyo Dome was announced as 55,000 — so officially, the largest attendance at a Cubs home game is 55,000, because one of the two games there was a Cubs home game. Years later it was revealed the actual capacity of the Dome is about 42,000 for baseball.
37) Shea Stadium, New York (last attended, 2005)
The best description of Shea came from a Mets fan friend, who said, “Yes, it’s a dump, but it’s our dump.” Mets fans loved this place, likely because they won two World Series there.
Again, this was a 1960s era stadium designed to host baseball and football and thus proved to be unsuitable for both. The seats along the baselines were movable, and the football field thus ran from home plate to center field. You can see the faint outline of the infield here:
The reason it was built with the outfield open was that there was an original thought that they would completely enclose the place and have it seat up to 80,000, and possibly even put a roof on it:
That never happened, and probably for the better. Shea’s sightlines were poor, amenities few, food mediocre, and the Mets departed after 2008 for Citi Field, built next door. It was demolished the following winter. Ron Santo always hoped he’d be able to operate the wrecking ball, but sadly, that didn’t happen.
36) Yankee Stadium II, New York (last attended, 2007)
Though I call it “Yankee Stadium II,” this wasn’t a new park, but an extensive renovation of the original 1923 Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, this was done in the 1970s, when stadium architecture was at its nadir. So what they wound up doing was taking out all the charm of the original park and much of its history and replaced it with generic seating areas. The place wound up with all the charisma of a garbage scow, kind of like the reputation New York City itself had in that era.
I went to this stadium a number of times, including seeing the Cubs get swept there in 2005. During that series some friends of mine had acquired day passes to one of the stadium clubs. It was nice, to be sure, but the rest of the place... meh.
I’ll give credit to Yankees fans, who were very nice to me despite my wearing a Cubs jacket throughout. They’re knowledgeable and passionate about their team. It was also easy to get to on public transportation, and even the couple of times when I drove there, it wasn’t difficult to navigate traffic and parking.
I wish I could have seen the place before the “renovation” began in 1973. The Yankees moved to the new Yankee Stadium in 2009 and the site of the old park is now called “Heritage Field,” home to some youth baseball leagues.