Seventh Heaven: America’s 7 Best Ballparks - United Hub
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7th heaven: America’s 7 best ballparks

By Bob Cooper, July 22, 2016

Baseball stadiums are like people: some are ordinary and lack personality, while others radiate energy and character. These seven ballparks are in the latter group, standing out like home-run sluggers in a lineup of .220 hitters. Fortunately they also field teams that have a shot at the playoffs this year and are all in cities worth exploring between games. If you're tired of watching the home team in the same stadium every year, these seven ballparks are worth the trip.

The entrance of AT&T Park in San Francisco

AT&T Park (San Francisco)

Not only do the Giants lead the majors in recent years, with World Series titles in the last three even-numbered years, they play in what many say is the best ballpark —walking distance from most San Francisco sights. “Splash hits" are the splashiest quirk, as sluggers can send right-field home-run balls into San Francisco Bay on the fly. Also beloved by fans is the baseball-themed kids play area behind left field and the local edible items available for purchase, like crab sandwiches on sourdough and Napa Valley wines.

View from above home plate at Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field (Chicago)

The Cubs may be best-known for their all-time-awful streak, with no world titles in 107 years, but guess what? Their early-season record was the best in baseball, so the drought may end soon. Meanwhile, Cubs fans never give up, largely because it's such a pleasure spending time in one of the last two “jewel box" stadiums left standing. Built in 1914, “The Friendly Confines," as Wrigley has been nicknamed, is known for its cozy grandstands (41,268 seats), wooden seats, hand-turned scoreboard and ivy-draped brick outfield wall.

Statue outside of Fenway Park

Fenway Park (Boston)

Every true baseball fan should make a pilgrimage to Fenway, the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball. Like Wrigley, it's a “jewel box" with a cozy capacity (37,949) and a hand-turned scoreboard. But the most unique feature is the Green Monster, a 37-foot-high wall in left field that was part of the original construction but not painted green until 1947. Red Sox fans are known for their exuberance and they've had plenty to cheer about in recent years; the team is the second-most successful in the Major Leagues this millennium with three titles since 2004.
View of the scoreboard and city in the background at Camden Yards

Camden Yards (Baltimore)

Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the first of the “retro" ballparks, which now account for three-quarters of all MLB stadiums. They were built to evoke the spirit of landmark stadiums like Fenway and Wrigley, which the Orioles stadium does nicely with seating close to the field and a downtown location a few blocks from Baltimore's bustling Inner Harbor. Just behind the bleachers is Eutaw Street, lined with restaurants and shops, where dozens of the longest home-run balls have landed — so heads up.

Surrounding view of the PNC Park stadium

PNC Park (Pittsburgh)

Whenever there's a break in the action — like during one of those tedious “instant" replay reviews — Pirates fans can lift their chins and admire the view beyond their cozy retro stadium. What they see is the downtown Pittsburgh skyline just across the Allegheny River. Game days can be an all-day treat, with a riverside concourse, restaurants surrounding the stadium and an easy walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge — named after the Pirates legend when the stadium opened — to 300 more restaurants in Pittsburgh's robust downtown.

View of the entrance of Coors Field in Denver

Coors Field (Denver)

Colorado residents and visitors, when they aren't bagging peaks in the Rockies, like to kick back with a Coors, in the stadium named for that beverage, and watch the baseball Rockies from the rooftop deck in right field. That “party deck" is the downtown retro stadium's most unique attribute, but also special are the number of homers that fly into the bleachers, thanks to the thin mile-high air. If you don't see a homer at a Rockies game, you weren't paying attention.

Right field view of the field in Kauffman Stadium

Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City)

Defending world champions. It's a title that gets you noticed, but Royals fans have been noticing how sweet their stadium is for a while, especially after a $250 million renovation was completed in 2009. Befitting the “City of Fountains," the stadium's fountain and waterfall display, called the Water Spectacular, is its signature feature. The falls flow constantly and the football-field-sized array of fountains gush before and after every game, as well as between innings. Also behind the outfield is another KC specialty: an ongoing barbecue picnic.

If you go

United Airlines flies to all of these cities. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your road trip.

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