» Comerica Park
Detroit Tigers (opened in 2000)
About a mile from where the old Tiger Stadium used to be, Comerica opened in a downtown district — soon followed by the opening of Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Lions and a short walk past the baseball park’s left-field seats. When theaters and restaurant/bars began opening around the sports venues, as well as five casinos near the waterfront, it revitalized Detroit’s downtown entertainment district in a way that was badly needed. Demonstrating that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Comerica borrowed features from Chicago’s Wrigley Field (ivy on the batter’s eye in center field), Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City (shooting fountains in center) and Angel Stadium of Anaheim (postgame fireworks on weekends).
» Minute Maid Park
Houston Astros (opened in 2000)
One of the many quirks that makes Minute Maid Park unique is an embankment in center field that rises at a 30-degree angle, measures 90 feet across at its widest point and is home to a flagpole that is in play. (Don’t worry, the pole is some 430 feet from home plate, so it rarely comes into play.) The bank is called Tal’s Hill, after former longtime team president Tal Smith. Some great catches have been made on the hill, but it’s not surprising that outfielders are not fond of it. Hey, it could be worse. What if the park didn’t have a retractable roof to keep out Houston’s oppressive humidity in the summer?
» Kauffman Stadium
Kansas City Royals (opened in 1973)
Home to the Kansas City Royals for four decades, periodic upgrades have kept the ballpark looking modern and picturesque. The fountains and waterfall beyond the wall in right-center field are the stadium’s most distinctive feature. After all, Kansas City is known as the “City of Fountains.” The fountain sprays stretch 322 feet horizontally and the 10-foot-high waterfall descends from an upper pool that serves as a backdrop for two lower pools that feed the fountains. For what it’s worth, the I-70 World Series between the Royals and the Cardinals in 1985 was one of the best.
» Dodger Stadium
Los Angeles Dodgers (opened in 1962)
Contrary to popular belief, the famed, foot-long, grilled Dodger Dog is not the most popular feature in the stadium. The best thing about the Dodgers and the stadium is Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, the legendary voice of the Dodgers since their years in Brooklyn, N.Y.; he’ll begin his 64th season with the franchise this month. At age 85! Now you know why so many Dodgers fans in the stadium listen to the game on portable radios. The stadium recently underwent a much-needed renovation, but no broadcasting upgrade is necessary.
» Marlins Park
Miami Marlins (opened in 2012)
Built on the former site of the Orange Bowl in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Marlins Park’s best feature is its size. It’s the smallest ballpark, with a seating capacity of 37,000 — a sharp contrast to the Marlins’ previous home, Sun Life Stadium, which was built for football and didn’t have a retractable roof. The most unique features are the large saltwater aquariums built in the backstop between the dugouts and the batter’s circles — a 600-gallon tank on the third-base side and a 450-gallon tank on the first-base side, with live colorful fish swimming around and no fear of being hooked. The acrylic panels are bulletproof, so don’t worry about loud foul balls, either.
» Miller Park
Milwaukee Brewers (opened in 2001)
There’s good ballpark food, there’s great ballpark food, and then there’s iconic ballpark food you can only get in one ballpark. The grilled bratwurst at Miller Park falls into the latter category. Sure, other parks and stadiums sell brats, too, but none tastes like Miller’s because of a condiment called “Secret Stadium Sauce.” A vendor at County Stadium (Miller Park’s predecessor) named Rick Abramson invented the sauce in the 1970s. “We were sort of running out of ketchup and mustard, and we needed a condiment,” Abramson once confessed. “I took barbecue sauce, a little ketchup and mustard, and smoked syrup and other ingredients and came up with Secret Stadium Sauce.” The rest is culinary history. Delicious.