Modern Woodmen Park, Slugger Field take top two spots
In one of the tightest contests in baseball history, you chose your 10 favorite minor league ballparks across America. One of them Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa - scored a home run by landing in first place with 40,000+ votes. But loyal fans of Louisville's Slugger Field have definitely said "See our ballpark!" with an impressive tally of over 38,000 votes.
Autozone Park Memphis, TN
Home of the Memphis Redbirds, Class AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, Autozone Park is part of the Memphis downtown scene not far from Beale Street. Its red-brick construction fits its historic neighborhood, but this 12,500-seat stadium is as modern as they come and almost has a major league feel – lacking only outfield seating. The Bluff in left field is a spot designed for you to bring your blanket (no chairs) and kids slide down the slope on cardboard from old boxes. Photo courtesy of Allison Rhoades / Memphis Redbirds
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City's Chicakasaw Bricktown Ballpark is home to Houston Astros' AAA affiliate Oklahome City RedHawks. Sited in the revitalized warehouse area known as Bricktown, which has its own San Antonio-like canal, this downtown ball field goes above and beyond in paying homage to native sons Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench, at entrances and throughout its expansive concourse. City skyline views and tons of nearby restaurants add to the impact of the park's impressive brick facade. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma City RedHawks
McCormick Field Asheville, NC
Home of the Asheville Tourists, Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, McCormick Field is built into the side of a hill, meaning some of the concourses are actually underground. The imposing 35-foot right field wall adds to the throwback feel of a park that opened in 1924 but was completely made over in 1992. Many scenes from Bull Durham were filmed here and from the inside, the ball field's woodsy surroundings create the feel of another era. Photo courtesy of Baseball Bugs
Dell Diamond Round Rock, TX
Home of the Round Rock Express, Class AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, Dell Diamond was the beginning of team ownership for legendary MLB pitcher Nolan Ryan, aka "The Ryan Express." Sit behind home plate and you’re closer to the plate than Ryan would have been if he were still pitching. Or try the pool, rock wall or bungee trampoline: all amenities which thrill baseball-loving families. The concession stands on the open concourse are perpendicular to the foul lines, aiding fans in watching the action at all times. Photo courtesy of Robert Backman
Whataburger Field Corpus Christi, TX
Whataburger Field is home to the Corpus Christi Hooks, Class AA affiliate of the Houston Astros, It doesn't look particularly special from the outside, which was designed to resemble the cotton warehouses that used to stand on the spot. But head up the steps to go inside and suddenly Harbor Bridge and any number of ships in the port dominate the view over the outfield walls. Try some Nolan Ryan’s BBQ in honor of the Texas icon and one of the team’s owners. Photo courtesy of Corpus Christi Hooks
Coca-Cola Field Buffalo, NY
Home of the Buffalo Bisons, Class AAA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo was the impetus for Camden Yards in Baltimore. It was also the prototype of the modern downtown ballpark, which nobody had the courage to try until this 1988 experiment. It’s large for the minors, at 18,000 seats, and was designed so a third deck could be added quickly if Buffalo got a major league expansion team. It already has a big league feel. Photo courtesy of The Buffalo Bisons
Fifth Third Field Toledo, OH
Fifth Third Field is home of the Toldeo Mud Hens, Class AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and the team made famous by Jamie Farr (Cpl. Klinger) in M*A*S*H. No ballpark is tucked more tightly into its urban setting. Just 11 years old, it’s reviving the surrounding Warehouse District. Inside, quirky outfield angles provide unusual seating options, including the raised Roost in the right field corner, reminiscent of old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Photo courtesy of Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Club
FirstEnergy Stadium Reading, PA
Reading's First Energy Stadium is home to the Reading Fightin Phils, Class AA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a museum to the city’s baseball history under the main grandstand and, once you step back into the sunlight, a playground that includes a pool, picnic area, outfield Boardwalk and a pyrotechnic train that’s part of the home run celebration. Surprisingly, all this lies within a 62-year-old ballpark which has been extensively redone over the past decade, but still retains the same dugouts Roger Maris used.
Photo courtesy of John Secoges/Reading Fightin Phils
Louisville Slugger Field Louisville, KY
Home of the Louisville Bats, Class AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, Slugger Field's entrance is a restored 19th century train depot on the banks of the Ohio River. A statue of native son Pee Wee Reese enhances its exterior, but Slugger Field, which opened in 2000, is a modern urban ballpark inside. Sit along the first-base side to get a view of the bridge over the river or a sunset, as part of the backdrop. The outfield seating/picnic area has the Ohio River as a backdrop. Photo courtesy of C. Michael Stewart
Modern Woodmen Park Davenport, IA
Home of the Quad Cities River Bandits, Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros, Modern Woodmen Park is dwarfed by the Centennial Bridge over the Mississippi River behind right field. Plenty of ballparks have outfield berms, but few also serve as the retaining wall necessary to avert flooding, an issue which has plagued this site for decades. At the top of the berm is a popular tiki bar with equal views of river and ballgame. And there’s a cornfield in the stadium – it is Iowa, after all. Photo courtesy of Sean Flynn Photography
The full winners list clearly shows which 10 great American minor league ballparks steal the heart of baseball fans across the USA.
The 10 Best Minor League Ballparks are as follows:
Paul White is a veteran newspaper writer and editor who covers baseball for USA TODAY Sports and has been involved in the launches of both USA TODAY and Baseball Weekly (now USA TODAY Sports Weekly). He joined the original USA TODAY staff several months before the national newspaper's September 1982 debut. White coordinated major changes in baseball coverage, including the innovative new boxscore that has become the standard for the industry. He has been covering baseball for 24 years including every World Series and All-Star Game over that time. White lives in Reston, Va.
Jorge L. Ortiz has covered sports for major newspapers on both coasts for more than 25 years. He grew up in Puerto Rico as an avid fan of Roberto Clemente and all things baseball, and joined the USA TODAY staff as an MLB reporter in 2005. Ortiz is a frequent guest on radio shows in English and Spanish. He is based in San Francisco.
Ted Berg is an MLB writer for For The Win and USA TODAY Sports. He spends lots of time at baseball games for work but still spends practically every one of his vacations traveling to baseball games. When not sampling minor league concessions around the country, he lives in New York City with his wife.