These are almost all within very recent memory, and you’ve likely been to some of them. So let’s compare notes!
15) Comerica Park, Detroit (last attended, 2012)
I saw the Cubs play here not long after the park opened (2001) and found it to be pleasant and well-suited for baseball. Not so well-suited was the area around the ballpark at the time. In fact, I opted to stay across the river in Windsor, Ontario (this was pre-9/11, so it was a bit easier to go back and forth across the border). Driving from the hotel to the game at 5 p.m. on a Friday, it was shocking to see how empty downtown Detroit was. Here’s a view from the early years, sure, nice-looking skyline until you realize that many of those buildings were vacant:
It was gussied up a bit by 2012, when I happened to be in Michigan for other reasons and took in a Tigers/Athletics division series game. The area around had been better built-up with more bars, restaurants and other entertainment. One of the coolest things they have there are these giant tiger statues that greet you at one of the entrances:
It’s a pleasant enough ballpark, I don’t have any real memories of the food there which means it couldn’t have been either terrible or great, Tiger fans are pleasant to be around and overall it’s a good experience.
Oh, and just like Chase Field, the folks at Comerica Park need to get rid of the ridiculous dirt path between the plate and the mound.
14) Coors Field, Denver (last attended, 1997)
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a Rockies game in Denver, so this ranking might be a little bit outdated. The views of the Rocky Mountains from the park at sunset are unrivaled:
It’s been 23 years so I don’t have any specific recollections of the food at Coors, though I have heard it’s pretty good, especially the craft beer selection. Folks who have been there more recently can fill us in.
There is, in the upper deck of this ballpark, a row of seats in Rockies purple:
The purpose of this row is to denote exactly 5,280 feet (one mile) above sea level. So now you know, and now you also know the reason our SB Nation Rockies site is named “Purple Row.”
(Incidentally, don’t those cupholders look a bit low?)
13) Busch Stadium III, St. Louis (last visited, 2017)
I’ve seen quite a few games here, all of them since the Cubs returned to contention in 2015. That made them more competitive and important, and brought very large numbers of Cubs fans to St. Louis.
You know what? I have never had any problems with Cardinals fans, either in Chicago or St. Louis. They love their team, they respect the rivalry, and when I began to get harassed by a drunk Cardinals fan one evening at Busch, ballpark security handled it swiftly and professionally. Kudos to them.
I’ve seen the Cubs win a postseason game there in 2015, and saw the game where the Cubs eliminated the Cardinals from postseason play in 2017, lots of good memories. If you go there enough, you can easily figure out the best traffic patterns to get in and out quickly and... oh, you didn’t think I was going to tell you what those were, did you? Nope nope nope, my little secret.
The Cardinals and the city of St. Louis invested a lot of money in building “Ballpark Village” across the street from the stadium and it certainly works, the “Fox Sports Midwest Grill” is always packed pre-game:
The sightlines are generally good and even when the Cubs are in town, tickets aren’t too expensive. The food’s a bit generic, but they did orient the stadium so you get views of the iconic Gateway Arch:
Unlike some of the new stadiums where you have views beyond center field of parking garages, there’s absolutely no doubt you’re in St. Louis when you see this view. They have even echoed the arch by mowing an image of it into the outfield grass, as shown above.
When fans are allowed back in ballparks, I’ll probably go back and see the Cubs play in St. Louis again. Best rivalry in baseball, as far as I’m concerned.
12) Citi Field, New York (last visited, 2009)
When you first arrive at Citi Field, you see the exterior was deliberately designed to resemble Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers:
Okay, that’s fine, a nice homage to a lost piece of baseball history.
But then you go into Citi Field through its main entrance (shown above) and you’re in ... the Jackie Robinson Rotunda:
I mean, Jackie Robinson was a great man and a significant figure in both baseball history and the history of this country, but... Mets fans were pissed when they saw this. “Where’s our history?” they said, and rightfully so. Combine this with the fact that this was the era when Mets ownership was trying to push a white team uniform with blue piping that resembled old Brooklyn Dodger uniforms instead of traditional Mets pinstripes, and you can see how unrepentant Brooklyn native Fred Wilpon, the team owner, was trying to turn the Mets into the “New York Dodgers.”
That’s changed now, the Mets have put some of their own history on display at Citi Field and returned to their pinstriped uniforms, but you can certainly understand how they felt.
The ballpark is surprisingly good, considering it’s always going to be second banana in New York to Yankee Stadium. It’s easy to get to on public transit, though there’s ample parking and the one day I had to drive there (because I was leaving the area right after the game), even the New York City traffic cops were pleasant and helpful.
Now here’s a New York story for you. I went to the Cubs/Mets series there in September 2009. The Mets had been at Wrigley the previous weekend and a Mets fan just happened to sit near our group. We struck up a conversation, had a nice chat, I mentioned I was going to NYC and didn’t have tickets for two of the games (my co-author of Cubs By The Numbers, Matt Silverman, had arranged for the other game). The guy said, “I work for the Mets. I’ll leave you tickets at will call.”
Heck of an offer, I thought, but I figured there was some catch here and he was just saying that to be nice. I left my name with him, showed up at the will-call window... sure enough, the guy came through, and nice seats that otherwise would have cost $90.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. He also left “Delta Club” passes for one of the games, and it was nice in there. The food was good throughout and by New York City standards, not too overpriced.
I’ll go back there someday. Very good experience.
11) T-Mobile Park, Seattle (last visited, 2019)
Since I was just at this ballpark last May, I will refer you to the detailed review I wrote about T-Mobile Park here at the time. Among the more impressive things they have:
Walking around the concourse, which was wide, easy to navigate and signed well, I came across an extensive Mariners Hall of Fame and Museum, which you can see in the photos above. The Mariners have a 42-season history and have never even been in a World Series, much less won one, but they have quite a number of significant players and events in that history that are commemorated in that museum — Felix Hernandez’ perfect game, Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter, great players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and of course, Ichiro. There’s also a display honoring Lou Piniella, who is by far the most successful manager in Mariners history (840 wins and four postseason appearances with them).
It really made me, even more, want to see the Cubs put together something like this. It could, I think, fit easily into the restored groundskeeper’s cottage in the left-field corner, which would be a perfect location for it given the cottage’s own history.
Of course, the pandemic has probably put a lot of the Cubs’ plans on hold, but I’d still very much like to see them create a Hall of Fame/Museum. It could be a year-round attraction at Wrigley Field.
You can see a full gallery of photos from T-Mobile Park in the review article from last year linked above, but I did want to call your attention to the T-shirt they were selling honoring a BCB favorite: