Monday, August 13, 2012

One Third of the Way Home: More Thoughts and Reflections

While we have only been on the road for 10 days, one third of the total number of games on our trip have come and gone. We spent yesterday traveling through Iowa and Nebraska which allowed for some reflection. Using the same scoring system from the first week, we ranked the last 5 stadiums. Again we had lots of difficulties coming up with the list because despite some minor drawbacks, the experience at each ballpark has been fantastic.

We score stadiums in the following five categories: stadium design, scoreboard/music, concessions, atmosphere, and the game itself. Overall rankings are then determined through the combined average of these scores. To clarify, stadium design deals with both the architecture and placement within the city, concessions are food and drink, and game is a measure of quality of play only. In case you missed it, here is the ranking of the first five stadiums.

1. Wrigley Field, Chicago
Stadium Design: 1st
Scoreboard/Music: 2nd
Concessions: 4th
Atmosphere: 1st
Game: 3rd
There is no other experience in baseball like attending a game here. The stadium practically oozes baseball history and lore. The lack of a state-of-the-art JumboTron and loud blaring music makes the Wrigley Field experience all about the game in its purest form. Fan support from the Northsiders was excellent despite the lack of talent on their team. The only downside was that the food seems to be trapped in the 1950s as well.

2. Target Field, Minnesota
Stadium Design: 2nd
Scoreboard/Music: 3rd
Concessions: 1st
Atmosphere: 2nd
Game: 5th
A nice, new stadium well situated in downtown Minneapolis. Target Field sports an excellent video screen and some of the best stadium food you can find anywhere for very reasonable prices. Twins fans showed a remarkable amount of attentiveness and passion, even in late innings when they were behind.

3. Miller Park, Milwaukee
Stadium Design: 3rd
Scoreboard/Music: 1st
Concessions: 5th
Atmosphere: 3rd
Game: 2nd
Our first retractable roof stadium of the trip. Miller Park has the best scoreboard we have seen in terms of clearly providing the appropriate information and avoiding gimmicky animations. Even on a Wednesday day game, the Brewer faithful showed up in force and willed their team to victory in the late innings.
4. US Cellular Field, Chicago
Stadium Design: 5th
Scoreboard/Music: 5th
Concessions: 2nd
Atmosphere: 4th
Game: 1st
The Southsiders love their White Sox, but there are few appealing characteristics in the bland US Cellular Field. Their scoreboard is heavily biased towards the home team and too complicated. Low priced concessions, an excellent game, and the post-game fireworks helped the score significantly here.

5. Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Stadium Design: 4th
Scoreboard/Music: 4th
Concessions: 3rd
Atmosphere: 5th
Game: 5th
The turnout may have been depressed by the weekday day game and high temperatures, but even then it was pretty disappointing. Busch Stadium is coated in Cardinal red, but other than the view of the St. Louis Arch in center field it has very few redeeming qualities. The food and beer selection was excellent if you have the money to pay for it. A slow game lowered the ranking.

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