ML Ballpark Trends – Part 1

 

Ballpark Trends

 

This article is the opener in a series that will continue through the week. I hope that all readers will see where I am going with this and take different considerations when grading ballparks. This study is not designed to grade them but rather give readers different tools when comparing them. 

The opening of the SkyDome in 1989 the word BallPark could be retired and replaced with MallPark.  With the opening of Camden Yards in Baltimore in 1992 the Orioles ushered in a new fad of retro-concrete and steel, downtown ballparks. The showy exteriors and throw-back feel are really just a shell for the MallPark that they really were.

There is an accepted grouping system of ballparks. Most parks fit into the following. I have taken liberty with some park names as they change so often, but I am sure it is clear.

 

Classics        

 

Mid-20th Cent        

 

Late 20th Cent Classics        

 

Multi purpose        

 

Neo-Classical        

 

Forbes Field        

 

1909        

 

Yankee Stadium        

 

1923        

 

Dodger Stadium        

 

1962        

 

RFK Stadium        

 

1962        

 

Oriole Park        

 

1992        

 

Shibe Park        

 

1909        

 

Cleveland Stadium        

 

1932        

 

Angel Stadium        

 

1966        

 

Shea Stadium        

 

1964        

 

Ballpark at Arl’ton        

 

1994        

 

Comiskey Park        

 

1909        

 

County Stadium        

 

1953        

 

Royals Stadium        

 

1973        

 

Astrodome        

 

1965        

 

Jacobs Field        

 

1994        

 

Sportsmans Park        

 

1909        

 

Memorial Stadium        

 

1954        

 

Comiskey Park        

 

1991        

 

Busch Stadium        

 

1966        

 

Coors Field        

 

1995        

 

League Park        

 

1910        

 

Municipal Stadium        

 

1955        

 

  Oakland Coliseum        

 

1968        

 

Turner Field        

 

1997        

 

Griffith Stadium        

 

1911        

 

Candlestick Park        

 

1960        

 

  Atlanta Stadium        

 

1966        

 

M. Maid Park        

 

1998        

 

Polo Grounds        

 

1911        

 

Metropolitan Stad’m.        

 

1961        

 

  Jack Murphy Stadium        

 

1969        

 

Chase Field        

 

1998        

 

Tiger Stadium        

 

1912        

 

    Riverfront Stadium        

 

1970        

 

Tropicana Field        

 

1998        

 

Crosley Field        

 

1912        

 

    Three-Rivers Stadium        

 

1970        

 

PacBell Park        

 

2000        

 

Fenway Park        

 

1912        

 

    Veterans Stadium        

 

1971        

 

Comerica Park        

 

2000        

 

Ebbets Field        

 

1913        

 

    Olympic Stadium        

 

1977        

 

PNC Park        

 

2001        

 

Wrigley Field        

 

1914        

 

    Kingdome        

 

1977        

 

Miller Park        

 

2001        

 

Braves Field        

 

1915        

 

    Metrodome        

 

1982        

 

GAP        

 

2002        

 

      Skydome        

 

1989        

 

Citizens Park        

 

2003        

 

      Dolphins Stadium        

 

1993        

 

PETCO Park        

 

2004        

 

          Busch Stadium        

 

2006        

 

 

Now, there are some parks missing (Arlington Stadium, Sick’s Stadium, Seal’s Stadium etc) they all fit into a separate category – usually called temporary stadiums. These parks will not be included in this study for the sake that they were not meant to be homes for major league teams. Also they are too individually unique to be compared as a group. Any ballpark pre-dating the construction of Shibe and Forbes in 1909 is considered an Antique Park and will not be studied at this time. Also, there are some hybrid parks amongst the above categories. For instance, Chase Field, Safeco Field, Miller Park and Tropicana Field are not really comparable to OPCY or PNC Park but they were all built as baseball only parks and have unnatural characteristics in the outfield and therefore do not fit with the Modern-Multi Purpose genre. Also they are too in tune with modern stadium/arena trends to be comparable with the Late 20th Century Classics genre. Similarly, Yankee Stadium after the 1976 renovation would fit in with the mid-20th Century Classics.  Pre-Expansion Candlestick Park is included in the mid-20th Century genre but it could easily have fit in the Late 20th Century Classics genre. The reason why I placed it where I did is because it was made with support beams to hold up the upper level.

I have developed 7 categories to compare but not grade these genres. I have bolded the important characteristics in each genre. These categories are as follows
 

1) Location of a park and why a certain genre gravitates to a certain type of environment. 

2) Building phases, what changes a park goes through during its lifespan. This is more applicable to older parks, as new parks have not been around enough to need massive facelifts.

3) The playing field – why playing fields are shaped the way they are

4) Construction techniques

5) Naming

6) Multi-use and possible effects on a baseball experience.

7) Lighting
Using these 7 details will make it easier to determine a perfect baseball venue regardless of changeable measures – ticket prices, team competitiveness or even atmosphere. 

I will now outline some of what make each genre special.

Classics 1909-1915, 13 Built, 2 still in use
 

1) All parks were built in urban areas, but never down town. Parks were built to take advantage of most inner cities growing public transportation routes. 

2) Parks were usually built small and renovated and expanded over time. Most parks built in the 1910’s had a capacity between 10,000 and 20,000. By 1960 most of these parks had a capacity between 29,000 and 50,000. (x Braves Field was built at 40,000)

3) Changes in these parks and the tight quarters that parks were situated on caused for odd but natural dimensions in the parks outfield fences.

4) Parks were made of brick, concrete and steel. Support beams interrupted some views but were needed to support upper levels and a roof.

5) Most parks were named after an owner and usually with a field or park as a suffix. Griffith Stadium was the only stadium.

6) These parks were baseball parks. Football was often played at these parks with differing success but no rearrangements were made for the gridiron. The grandstands curved with the angles of the field and the only compromises came from building into city blocks.  Temporary bleachers were used for football.

7) None of these parks were built with lights. All but one eventually had lights installed.

 

Part 2 is to follow… 

 

 

Written By

  • Callum

    Why did you choose those specific categories?

  • Early

    The catergories I chose are ones that do not change on a whim or with time. If I were to choose prices, how would Fenway be gradeable, historical ticket prices or current ticket prices. Same with amenities, when Fenway was built it probably had no wheelchair access or women’s washrooms, whereas now it does. I would not be able to do a historical study or comparison between two parks of the same genre. If Ebbets Field never had wheelchair accessability does that make it worse than Fenway, worse than PNC? Marlins keep winning in the playoffs atmosphere is good but it is shit now, so does Dolphins Stadium have good atmosphere or bad atmosphere? The location, builing techniques, building phases never change, this will become more clear in the later Parts of this study.

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