Thursday, August 9, 2012

The First Five: Quick-hit reflections

Note: this was written on Wednesday morning, but uploading at the time was unsuccessful. Apologies for the delay.

We are now one-sixth of the way through our ballpark tour, having seen five baseball games over the past five days. We decided to look back on these first five ballpark experiences and offer some thoughts on the overall experiences at each stop. These are our rankings, based on a combination of categories that will help explain how we came to our conclusions. It was tricky to make this list, because we enjoyed them all considerably. Although each had its minor drawbacks, those were far outweighed by their many impressive qualities. Our expectations have been exceeded at every stadium.

Our First Five rankings include the following five categories: stadium design, scoreboard visuals/music, concessions, atmosphere, and the baseball game itself. (A few points of clarification: Stadium design includes placement in the city and views, concessions include food and drink, and the game itself is an abstraction of the quality of play only).

1. PNC Park, Pittsburgh 
Stadium Design: 1st
Scoreboard/Music: 5th
Concessions: 1st
Atmosphere: 1st
Game: 2nd
The only thing better than the Primanti Bros sandwich was the atmosphere: all of the great community, baseball-appreciating feel of a good minor league town, with the talent and excitement of a major league team. The view of the city in the background is picture perfect. 

2. Comerica Park, Detroit 
Stadium Design: 5th
Scoreboard/Music: 1st
Concessions: 5th
Atmosphere: 2nd
Game: 1st
Very well attended game, on a Tuesday night. The scoreboard was easiest of all to follow, and the 'Tigers' sign above it lit up with different designs throughout the game, ranging from blue and orange, to waving tiger stripes, to firework graphics when the game ended. 

3. Yankee Stadium, New York 
Stadium Design: 2nd
Scoreboard/Music: 2nd
Concessions: 4th
Atmosphere: 3rd
Game: 5th
The stadium is built very well, and pulls off the enclosed look. The food was great, but very expensive, and many options were not available to those in the bleachers. There was a company feel, and more empty seats than we expected as well, but they had a great scoreboard, good music, and nice PA. 

4. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia 
Stadium Design: 4th
Scoreboard/Music: 4th
Concessions: 2nd
Atmosphere: 4th
Game: 3rd
A stadium design without any weaknesses but also with few memorable features. Too many fans left early, although kudos for a good turnout during such a disappointing season. They had great video montages on the scoreboard, and great beer selection. 

5. Nationals Park, Washington 
Stadium Design: 3rd
Scoreboard/Music: 3rd
Concessions: 3rd
Atmosphere: 5th
Game: 4th
An unexciting game hurt the ranking here, and Nationals Park is comparable to any of the last three stadiums. New and nice stadium, although the scoreboard is hard to read and there are too few replays. Presidents' race is fun entertainment, and we were sorry to miss out on the restaurant in center field, which was very close to the field and open to all patrons. The fans could use to be better versed in baseball. 

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