We compiled a roster of ballpark veterans to find out what makes these MLB stadiums worth the price of admission.

Ron Selter

A baseball historian, he is the author of the 2008 book, Ballparks of the Deadball Era.

Russ Tiffin

This super fan has visited all 30 MLB ballparks, documenting his travels on his Instagram account, @mlb.stadiums.tour

Ben Wagner

The play-by-play radio announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays since 2018, he has visited a number of stadiums.

Chase Field
Phoenix, Arizona

Shielding spectators from the desert heat with its retractable roof, the air-conditioned home of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a reputation for being fan-focused. “Chase Field was one of the first ballparks that resonated for me,” says Wagner about the downtown Phoenix stadium that opened in 1998. “You need to have a good time, and the Arizona Diamondbacks struck that chord very, very early.” Look no further than its swimming pool near right centre field. “People can hit home runs into the pool,” says Tiffin. “It’s something that you don’t really see in other stadiums.” From the chance to take a mid-game dip to snapping pics with the D-backs Legends Racers—four mascot-like caricatures of iconic team players—a visit goes beyond nine innings. “It’s an absolutely inclusive experience,” says Wagner. 

  • Chase Field was the first retractable-roof stadium to use grass in the outfield. It was replaced with synthetic turf in 2019.
  • Renting the D-backs Pool, which includes up to 42 tickets, food and a towel for each guest, starts at US$6,700.
  • Stay in your seats after the fifth inning. During each home game, the D-backs Legends Racers run around the field.

Rogers Centre

Toronto, Ontario

The Toronto Blue Jays, Canada’s only MLB team, have called Rogers Centre home since 1989, when it opened as the SkyDome. Its downtown location, along with its retractable roof, makes it instantly recognizable. “It definitely adds a lot,” says Tiffin. “Having the roof open gives it the feel of a true baseball experience.” Given the opportunity, Tiffin suggests visiting on a sunny day, as the open roof transforms the feel of the place— thanks to an equally iconic structure. “The CN Tower is right there,” says Tiffin. “You don’t see a giant monument like that in every stadium. It shadows over the whole playing area.” While downtown stadiums have become the norm, Selter says the Rogers Centre’s location in the city’s Entertainment District is a relatively new phenomenon. “Before, ballparks were built wherever they could get the land,” he says. 

  • Stay at one of the 70 stadium field-view rooms at the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel. Rates start at $325.
  • The Rogers Centre’s retractable roof was the first of its kind when it debuted in 1989.
  • The name SkyDome was the result of a competition in 1987. The winner received lifetime passes to all stadium events.

Oracle Park

San Francisco, California

Oracle Park made a splash—pun intended—when it debuted in 2000 as Pacific Bell Park. Situated next to San Francisco Bay, the home of the San Francisco Giants has waterfront views. “Nowhere do you find a backdrop, or a venue, like you do in San Francisco,” says Wagner. “If you elevate yourself within the ballpark, you get one of the more spectacular views—not just from a baseball-fan perspective, but also from a tourist perspective.” The bay also plays a role in the game. Named after legendary slugger Willie McCovey, the unofficially titled McCovey Cove is located just beyond the right field wall. Paddlers take to the cove during games in hopes of retrieving a rare Splash Hit—a homer slammed out of the park and into the bay. “Having kayakers trying to catch the ball, is a big draw to that stadium,” says Tiffin. “It’s in a perfect spot.” 

  • As of the end of the 2019 season, the San Francisco Giants recorded 81 Splash Hits at Oracle Park.
  • The 47-foot-tall Coca-Cola bottle in left field contains four slides to be enjoyed by fans ages 14 and younger.
  • Oracle Park has hosted everything from a Rolling Stones concert to Kanye West’s 2013 proposal to Kim Kardashian.

Yankee Stadium

Bronx, New York

Opened in 2009 just a block from the team’s original stadium, the home of the New York Yankees is a tribute to its legendary predecessor, which stood for more than 85 years. “Yankee Stadium is a modern attempt to recreate the look of the old Yankee Stadium from 1923,” says Selter. From the frieze that adorns the top of the upper deck to the exterior of towering arches and columns of white limestone, its design evokes memories of the earlier structure. Inside, the New York Yankees Museum displays memorabilia from Bronx Bomber greats and Yankee’s history. “Once you’re there, you know exactly where you are,” said Wagner of the iconic design of Yankee Stadium. “They did such a great job of tying in the classic look with every modern amenity from a player and fan perspective.” 

  • The stadium’s inaugural 2009 season began with a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Yankees legend Yogi Berra.
  • A plaque at 1720 Bedford Ave. marks the former site of Ebbets Field, where Brooklyn Dodgers great Jackie Robinson played.
  • The Yankees aren’t the only team in town. The New York Mets play at Citi Field in Queens.

Truist Park

Atlanta, Georgia

The league’s latest build hit a home run with baseball fans thanks to its design, which incorporates elements from classic and modern ballparks. Debuting in 2017, the home of the Atlanta Braves heightens the fan experience for die-hard game-goers and casual attendees alike. “It’s definitely one of my favourite stadiums,” says Tiffin. “They really built it as a great experience.” That experience is due in part to Truist being an anchor for the newly developed Battery Atlanta neighbourhood, with shops, restaurants and a hotel just steps from the stadium. Game watching is also elevated thanks to meticulously designed seating tiers that ensure ideal sightlines, and fans are treated to southern hospitality with food options in the concourse ranging from barbecue to catfish po’ boy tacos. “You won’t find that in every part of the country,” says Wagner. 

  • Spectators at Truist are shielded from the elements by the MLB’s largest overhead canopy.
  • If you’re after a souvenir foul ball, you can rent a glove for the game at the Mizuno Glove Experience.
  • Truist is home to a couple of firsts, including the first zipline and rockclimbing wall in an MLB stadium.
This article appears in the April 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.

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