April 16, 2009
I was recently talking with a native San Franciscan (wish I could remember exactly who) when our talk turned to AT&T Park, home of the Giants and the city's jewel on the bay. Before he could get a word in edgewise, I was gushing about the place. About its location. About the garlic fries. About how the wind whipped in while you were looking at the kayaks from the right field arcade. About how the only downside of the place was not being able to get over to The Bus Stop quickly enough for their "Giants Win!" drink specials.
Finally, I think he was able to interrupt with a spot-on observation about The House That Barry Built.
"You know how everyone talks about Fenway and Wrigley now?" he said. "Well, they're going to talk about AT&T Park like that 90 years from now. All it needs is become legendary is more time."
I agreed, and apparently Forbes.com does as well because it just named AT&T Park the best ballpark in America, based on a survey that factored in "affordability, accessibility, fan participation and concession quality" as well as "intangibles."
Rounding out the bottom of the list were Florida's Dolphin Stadium (ranked the worst), Oakland's Coliseum, Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field, Arizona's Chase Field and Texas' Ballpark. (Full list is here)
If you're a regular reader of the Stew, you know that I absolutely eat this stuff up. Hence, our Big Ballpark Review (don't worry, it's still chugging along) and our endless talk about concession stand items, cool nooks and crannies and the people in the stands.
Despite my love for AT&T, I don't think it's tops on my list. Forbes got the top 5 parks right, but messed up the order. If you ask me, I'm going:
1. Camden Yards — Meshed old and new to start the modern ballpark craze and, in my opinion, did it with a design that still hasn't been topped.
2. PNC Park — Best backdrop in the majors and nearly every seat is a winner. A gift from the baseball gods for having to watch the Pirates day after day.
3. Wrigley Field — Best pre- and postgame opportunities of the bunch and a renovation of the uncomfortable grandstand shoots this immediately to the top of the list.
4. AT&T Park — Maybe the most underrated aspect of this one is that it was built with private funds. Think about that for a minute.
5. Progressive Field — As I've admitted in an ashamed manner before, I've never been to Fenway Park. While I'm sure I'd love it, I can't rank it here, so I'll go with the yard in Cleveland. It's never mentioned among the best (Forbes has it 19th), but it should be.
Since I'm sure that many of you have issues with the list let's open the comments to see what you think. Where did Forbes make the right calls? Where did they make the wrong ones? I'll start by saying that the 'C' for the delicious food at U.S. Cellular Field makes me think they never even visited the South Side of Chicago.