Last year, I achieved a life goal: seeing all 30 active MLB stadiums. It’s a fleeting achievement though, which will become obsolete the moment the Atlanta Braves open their brand new stadium this April. So now is the perfect time to rank the stadiums, since I’ll need a new ranking in only a few weeks.
Over the next 30 days, I’ll countdown the best stadiums in MLB–Turner Field included, since this is the last time I’ll ever get to rank it.
Rankings like this are inherently subjective. I won’t try to give them a faux-objectivity by creating a point system like you’ll see in other rankings on other websites. I also don’t rank peripheral factors like food, beer, and fan support. I only care about the building and the location. I’m ranking stadiums, not stadium experiences.
29. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Like Tropicana Field, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum exists for one reason: the team hasn’t yet figured out a way to replace it. Built in 1966, the A’s stadium is tied with Angel Stadium as the second oldest in the American League (Fenway, of course, is the oldest). Unlike Angel Stadium though, which has been renovated and has otherwise aged gracefully, the Coliseum has actually gotten worse. In 1996, to lure the Raiders back to Northern California from LA, an additional upper deck was put into the centerfield stands. The construction, which blocks the view of the Oakland hills beyond the centerfield wall, has been derisively named “Mount Davis.”
Mount Davis, along with the entire upper deck, is often covered by tarp to reduce the stadium’s “capacity” to the smallest in MLB. The configuration is an atmosphere killer.
The Coliseum is a holdout from an earlier era of stadium building. Many of the park’s contemporaries–Shea Stadium, RFK–have been replaced by newer parks with more amenities. Without the unnecessary centerfield stadium enclosure, the Coliseum might emulate some of the charm of Dodger Stadium, but with it, it more resembles the cookie-cutter, dual-function stadiums that propagated MLB during the 70’s and 80’s. Indeed, in 2012, the Coliseum became the last baseball stadium also used for football.
The stadium’s defining characteristics are blandness and emptiness. It lacks charm and coziness. There are a lot of seats and not enough people to fill them. The Coliseum has the largest amount of foul space between the baselines and the crowd–a necessity to accommodate the conversation to a football field. The layout only dries a wedge between the fans and the action.
The stadium long ago entered its garbage time era–everyone agrees it needs to go, but no relief is on the way. The A’s have struggled to get new a smaller park closer to population centers in downtown Oakland and their proposed move to the wealthy San Jose area was blocked by the San Francisco Giants.
Oakland’s sole purpose is to remind us how fortunate we’ve become. Thirty years ago, Oakland’s Coliseum didn’t stand out. Now, it’s a oddity and an eyesore among baseball’s dazzling landscape of newer aesthetically pleasing baseball-only ballparks. MLB’s stadium revolution has undoubtedly been a good thing for the game–but Oakland and its crumbling Coliseum have been left behind.