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.
30. Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays)
29. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)
28. Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)
26. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers)
Anyone who has been to Wisconsin in April knows why the Brewers have a retractable roof. It can get cold, and when it gets cold, a climate controlled stadium can have huge benefits. But there’s something about indoor baseball that doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t feel like baseball. Now that we’re at number 26 on this countdown, we can see it’s not a coincidence that four of my bottom five stadiums are domes or retractable roof stadiums.
It’s not the roof, however, that puts Miller Park near the bottom of my list. It’s the feeling inside the park. Much like Chase Field in Arizona, Miller Park looks and feels like a warehouse or airplane hangar. More than any other stadium, Miller’s roof is very prominent, both when it’s open and closed, and that’s not a good thing. The roof itself is an innovative design that unfolds like a fan. It’s a nifty piece of engineering, but it’s not an atheistic masterpiece.
Miller Park isn’t a bad stadium; it’s actually a very enjoyable park. It’s still relatively new, so it’s loaded with all the modern amenities. Because it’s Milwaukee, there’s a beer stand or bar every five feet. Bernie Brewer, the team’s mascot, has a his signature yellow slide to go down after Milwaukee home runs. It’s kitschy and cheesy, but it’s the right kind of kitschy and cheesy. Besides, it wouldn’t be Wisconsin without a little bit cheese.
Miller Park was built right in the middle of the MLB stadium boom in 2001. Between 1998-2001, seven stadiums opened in four years. All of them capitalized on the retro-classic or retro-modern style in the spirit of Camden Yards, which opened in 1992, or Jacobs Field, which opened in 1994. Unlike it’s contemporaries, the Brewers opted not to build their stadium near downtown like Houston, Pittsburgh, or Detroit. Instead, Miller Park was built next to the old Milwaukee County Stadium, which everyone couldn’t wait to tear down. The distance detracts from park atmosphere. I prefer downtown stadiums, which are a little bit closer to the life of the city. One byproduct of the stadium’s location and it’s proliferation of parking spaces: the Brewers have a very healthy tailgating scene. In fact, of all the stadium’s I’ve been to, Miller Park felt most like a football game.
One final thing: Miller Park has a statue of Bud Selig. That’s gross. Please avoid it if you go, or do humanity a favor and tear it down with your pickup truck when nobody’s watching. Bud Selig did some good things as commissioner, and some very bad things. But a statue? Egads. Now that I’ve reached the end of this writeup, I’m starting to think #26 was being kind. Appropriate though, because if there’s one thing Wisconsinites understand, it’s being too nice.