Ranking The Best Ballparks
In The NL West
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
March 6, 2018 — Baseball is officially back, and it is only a matter of time before the regular season starts, which means it’s time for you to plan out all the games you want to see this year.
If you’re a diehard baseball fan like me, that means you are also going to start thinking about what other baseball cities you would like to visit this summer. I always try to plan my summer vacations around the baseball schedule so that I can catch a game or two while I am in town. More often than not, I am even able to schedule around the Diamondbacks schedule, so I can see them take on NL West rivals.
Based on my travels, here is a definitive list of the best parks in the NL West.
Image of Petco Park by SD Dirk and used under a Creative Commons license.
1. Petco Park
Because the actual team quality did not factor into my rankings, Petco Park takes the number one slot and, to be honest, it is not really close.
Much of the stadium’s charm comes from its environment in San Diego, which has one of the most temperate climates in the continental United States.
I am unabashedly biased towards open-air baseball stadiums, and Petco’s extremely open design gives fans unobstructed access to that San Diego’s beautiful year-round weather. There’s nothing more enjoyable than sipping on a beer during early-evening game in August in San Diego.
Speaking of beer, Petco also offers plenty of the city’s nationally-renowned local brews at the ballpark, including Stone Brewing, Ballast Point, Mike Hess and Mission, among many others. And, while craft brews will cost a bit more, Petco’s average beer price of $10 in 2016 was fourth-lowest among all MLB ballparks, according to Forbes.
At risk of sounding like a commercial — this article was not sponsored by the San Diego Tourism Bureau (which is obviously the truth because it’s actually called the San Diego Tourism Authority) — I really have no complaints about my experience at Petco Park. I even got to see the Diamondbacks win a game the last time I was there because the home team is so damn awful.
Image of AT&T Park by Bspangenberg and used under a Creative Commons license.
2. AT&T Park
AT&T Park — another open-air park; see a trend? — also benefits from beautiful weather … sometimes. While the San Francisco summer is liable to provide you with a beautiful 75-degree day to enjoy a Giants game, it could just as easily throw you a rainy and cold curveball, hence its position in second place.
Even if the weather is beautiful on the day you’re attending a game, bring a jacket. That’s because if the sun is not shining on your seat, the shade coupled with the wind off the bay will freeze you to the bone, especially if you’re a desert dweller like me.
The sight lines throughout the stadium are great, too, so it’s hard to purchase a bad ticket.
On the beer front, AT&T Park offers quite a diverse list of local and national craft brews from breweries like Deschutes, Anchor Brewing Company and Lagunitas. Much like anything else in San Francisco, the beer is going to cost you, as beer prices there rank in the top six in MLB.
In addition to beer, San Francisco’s park benefits from the city’s great food scene. While the food does cost ballpark prices, the choices are not the typical, cafeteria-grade fare we’re used to at Chase Field in Arizona.
I ate at the Organic Coup, a chicken joint, and the fried chicken sandwich blew me away. The sammie, which was complete with pickled slaw, was almost worth the stadium prices, which is more than I can say for the cheap hot dogs and frozen chicken tenders that many other stadiums peddle.
Image of Coors Field by by Max and Dee Bernt and used under a Creative Commons license.
3. Coors Field
If you hadn’t guessed it already, open air and good beer almost guarantee you a good score in my book and Coors Field has both. The weather tops out in the high-80s in the summer, which, while nice, is why it ranks just below the Petco and AT&T.
While we would kill for 80s weather in the summer in Arizona, those temperatures coupled with Denver’s high elevations and make it feel a lot hotter on a sunny day — so bring your sunscreen.
Still even if the sun is beating down, Coors Field — despite its name — offers a great beer selection and the prices fall in the middle of the pack amongst U.S. ballparks. There is a Blue Moon brewery in the stadium and concessioners also have Oskar Blues, Odell Brewing, Great Divide Brewing and, uh, Coors.
Image of Dodger Stadum by Jake N. and used under a Creative Commons license.
4. Dodger Stadium
It’s hard to rank the stadium with the most history in the division this low on the list, but Dodger Stadium just doesn’t have some of the intangible assets that the others do. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to see a game — far from it. Dodger Stadium is another quality open-air venue, although Los Angeles doesn’t have quite the same climate as the others named before it on this list.
Getting to the stadium is also a pain in the ass, considering it’s located within the Elysian Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Make sure to leave roughly 83 hours before the first pitch if you’re staying more than two miles from the stadium.
Speaking of neighborhoods, the history behind the stadium could also give the more socially-conscious fans pause. The construction of the stadium displaced many Latino residents when the city of Los Angeles used eminent domain to take possession of the land. Many argue that those residents were not compensated fairly for their land. You can read more about that story from PBS.
Image of Chase Field by Clintus and used under a Creative Commons license.
5. Chase Field
What can I say? Chase Field is, by a large margin, the worst ballpark in the NL West. When the roof is closed, which is most of the time, it feels more like an airplane hangar than a sports venue.
I realize that the roof is a ‘necessary evil’ due to Arizona’s high summer temperatures, but I don’t care. I am not here to offer an alternative. I am just commenting on the state of things as they are.
On the food and beer front, Chase Field falls far short of its counterparts. Sure, it has some local craft beers like SanTan Brewing and Four Peaks — and its prices for beer are the cheapest in the league — but the food is an abomination. It’s the type of stuff that keeps food conglomerates like Aramark in business. Everything looks and tastes like it was taken out of the freezer and dropped in a deep fryer.
The Diamondbacks try to divert attention from the low quality of food by creating unholy, caloric bombs like the Churro Dog, but that doesn’t change the food’s subpar quality. I swear there’s been four different pizza vendors in the stadium over the years — including California Pizza Kitchen — but the actual pizza doesn’t seem to change.
The fan experience at the stadium is nothing to write home about, either. It seems like the team is doing everything it can to distract you from the baseball game by filling the whole event up with gimmicks for fans to win prizes.
Even the pool, the field’s defining feature, is not all it’s cracked up to be. As someone who has actually been in the pool, I can tell you the temperature is just above lukewarm, making it feel like you’re swimming in human sweat.
For more information visit www.cactusleague.com to find links to any team’s webpage.
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