Petco Park

PETCO.JPG

Stadium Name: Petco Park

Location: San Diego, California

Team: San Diego, CA

Stadium Rating: A

First Game: June 3, 2017, Rockies – 10, Padres – 1

This was probably the coolest story I have to tell for traveling to a stadium yet.

It started as a joke of an idea, to fly several states over for a day to go to a game, and then flying back at night. But sometimes jokes can become reality, and that is what happened on this June day.

I had a 8 AM flight that got to San Diego 9:30. I immediately took an Uber from the airport to the beach, and got to take a few (very, very) cold steps into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. After walking around and a quick nap on the beach, I got a cab back across the bay over to lunch before biking to the stadium.

I wasn’t expecting too much of Petco Park, but it quickly became one of my favorites. I was walking around all day in sandals, needing a break just before the game started. Petco has a massive lawn behind center field that let’s people throw down a blanket and enjoy the game from afar with their dogs, kids and whoever else they decided to bring. So I got to watch part of the game while laying back on a green hill overlooking the stadium. Not too bad.

My seats were up high, per usual, but the view was still great, and you could see a lot of San Diego in the background. My new hometown team, the Colorado Rockies, absolutely crushed the Padres – it wasn’t even close – but the stadium was a gem and one I would gladly go back to (San Diego too – for that matter).

From the game, I went and walked around downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, and then eventually took an Uber back to the airport. By 7 o’clock, I was back on a plane, and home by 11 PM.

In 15 hours, I took two flights, watched an entire baseball game, went to the beach, and got some great food at the Pier. It was an absolutely great day.

While normally something like that would turn me away from doing such a quick and rushed trip, it was such a great time that I’m definitely not opposed to doing it again. Halfway through 2017, I was more than 50% finished with my list. But that still leaves a lot of stadiums and a lot of traveling to go.

  1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs – Chicago, IL)
  2. SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves – Atlanta, GA)
  3. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh, PA)
  4. Target Field (Minneapolis Twins – Minneapolis, MN)
  5. Petco Park (San Diego Padres – San Diego, CA)
  6. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros – Houston, TX)
  7. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore, MD)
  8. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies – Denver, CO)
  9. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia, PA)
  10. Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers – Arlington, TX)
  11. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee, WI)
  12. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks – Phoenix, AZ)
  13. Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners – Seattle, WA)
  14. Busch Stadium (Saint Louis Cardinals – Saint Louis, Missouri)
  15. Oakland Alameda County Stadium (Oakland Athletics – Oakland, CA)
  16. Guaranteed Rate Stadium (Chicago White Sox, Chicago, IL)
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Safeco Field

Seattle.JPG

Stadium Name: Safeco Field

Location: Seattle, Washington

Team: Seattle Mariners

Stadium Rating: B-

First Game: May 21, 2017, White Sox – 8, Mariners – 1

At the beginning of this year, I had 9 stadiums done on my list, and no real agenda of when I’d get any more completed. But yet here I was, halfway home by mid-May. Safeco Field was the sunny backdrop for stadium #15.

A lot of the locals bragged on Safeco Field, about how new it was, about the amenities and views. But a quick Wikipedia search shows that Safeco is actually now in the older half of stadiums by year, which is crazy given that it opened up in 1999.

To me, it was a nice stadium, especially due to the sunny afternoon with hardly a cloud in the sky. But the cheapest seat I could find was still out in the bleachers near center field, where it got a bit harder to see. The Mariners got crushed too, so there was a noticeable quiet around the stadium.

That being said – a couple things I’ll give to the Mariners. Their crowd is very loyal – most people didn’t leave early despite it being a pretty hot day, and their team was getting smoked by a lesser opponent. They also had a really cool Hall of Fame that you could walk through. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing – but in this case it was especially cool since it housed my favorite non-Brave of all time, Ken Griffey Jr.

But – I couldn’t really look past too much of that, as Safeco unfortunately gets a ranking lower down on my list. This was the first time I was able to go to Seattle, the city itself was awesome, and I loved the views. But unfortunately, the stadium just doesn’t cut it with the current batch of modern parks that are seemingly coming out each year.

  1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs – Chicago, IL)
  2. SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves – Atlanta, GA)
  3. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh, PA)
  4. Target Field (Minneapolis Twins – Minneapolis, MN)
  5. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros – Houston, TX)
  6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore, MD)
  7. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies – Denver, CO)
  8. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia, PA)
  9. Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers – Arlington, TX)
  10. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee, WI)
  11. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks – Phoenix, AZ)
  12. Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners – Seattle, WA)
  13. Busch Stadium (Saint Louis Cardinals – Saint Louis, Missouri)
  14. Oakland Alameda County Stadium (Oakland Athletics – Oakland, CA)
  15. Guaranteed Rate Stadium (Chicago White Sox, Chicago, IL)

Oakland Alameda County Stadium

Oakland.JPG

Stadium Name: Oakland Alameda County Stadium

Location: Oakland, CA

Team: Oakland Athletics

Stadium Rating: C

First Game: May 20, 2017, Athletics – 8, Red Sox – 3

I have to admit, Oakland was probably one of the last stadiums I was looking forward to going to. I love baseball. I think that’s pretty clear. But nothing about Oakland – or the stadium – really jumped out to me.

Not to mention, the Golden State Warriors (housed right next door at Oracle Arena) happened to be taking on my San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs that same weekend.

As I walked into the old stadium, built in 1962, I wasn’t really surprised by anything. Not the best stadium I’ve been to by a longshot, though I still rank it ahead of one at this point. Oakland is the backdrop to one of my favorite movies – Moneyball – where the early 2000s upstart A’s win an improbable 20 games in a row and changed a lot of the way baseball is run from the front office.

So in a way, Oakland Alameda will always be a cool stadium to me – the history behind the common ground that the A’s share with the Raiders.

And I was very excited to go to California for the first time – where the sunny 75 was no joke. It was pretty darn great.

The stadium was as predicted for a 55 year old deteriorating structure. There’s no massive press box behind home plate – it’s in center field, which makes a lot more sense when you know the Raiders all play there for now. I sat in the bleachers and narrowly missed out on a few batting practice balls.

The game felt eerily similar to a minor league game, which I guess made it kind of its own. People are allowed to bring drums and noisemakers in, which I didn’t think was allowed at any stadium anymore. But the people in Oakland love their A’s, they love making noise, and they love having a good time.

Problem is, it wasn’t the most enjoyable place to watch a baseball game, which unfortunately is my top criteria for watching a game. The A’s won, I had a great time, but it’s not a park I’ll be itching to get back to anytime soon. For right now, stadium #14 is #13 on my list.

The good thing is – Oakland is pushing for a new stadium, and when that opens up, I’ll be more than happy for a return trip.

  1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs – Chicago, IL)
  2. SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves – Atlanta, GA)
  3. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh, PA)
  4. Target Field (Minneapolis Twins – Minneapolis, MN)
  5. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros – Houston, TX)
  6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore, MD)
  7. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies – Denver, CO)
  8. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia, PA)
  9. Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers – Arlington, TX)
  10. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee, WI)
  11. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks – Phoenix, AZ)
  12. Busch Stadium (Saint Louis Cardinals – Saint Louis, Missouri)
  13. Oakland Alameda County Stadium (Oakland Athletics – Oakland, CA)
  14. Guaranteed Rate Stadium (Chicago White Sox, Chicago, IL)

Target Field

Twins

Stadium Name: Target Field

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Team: Minneapolis Twins

Stadium Rating: A

First Game: May 5, 2017, Red Sox – 11, Twins – 1

#13.

Before May, I had been to Minneapolis twice in my life.

The first time, we missed our flight out to Montana and had to spend the night at a hotel, where it was 19 degrees. I had flip flops, a t-shirt, and shorts on.

The second time, I was merely in the airport, making a connection.

As they say, third time is the charm.

I had the privilege of getting to see my good friend and cousin Kurt for the weekend in Minneapolis, which had beautiful weather and nice people all around. The baseball stadium, Target Field, which opened in 2012, was no different.

We sat up top, but the view was incredible (as seen above). While the Twins may have done absolutely horrible that day, the scene could not have been better. The Minneapolis skyline in the background, a cold beer and a baseball game made the Saturday one that I won’t forget.

As far as the stadium itself, Target Field is pretty new, so it had just about every amenity you could ask for. Our view was perfect, despite being pretty high up, the people were gracious and helpful, and the architecture/design of the stadium was great. There didn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house.

Aside from the Twins losing the game, I really can’t find one single bad thing about Target Field. It may be an outdoor park in Minneapolis, so April/September games might not be the most ideal, but it is a beautiful stadium I would gladly go back to. At this point it takes over the #3 spot. Minneapolis really was a great surprise, and the weekend was one I was I could replay.

  1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs – Chicago, IL)
  2. SunTrust Park (Atlanta Braves – Atlanta, GA)
  3. PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates – Pittsburgh, PA)
  4. Target Field (Minneapolis Twins – Minneapolis, MN)
  5. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros – Houston, TX)
  6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore, MD)
  7. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies – Denver, CO)
  8. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies – Philadelphia, PA)
  9. Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers – Arlington, TX)
  10. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers – Milwaukee, WI)
  11. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks – Phoenix, AZ)
  12. Busch Stadium (Saint Louis Cardinals – Saint Louis, Missouri)
  13. Guaranteed Rate Stadium (Chicago White Sox, Chicago, IL)