We Need to Stop Pretending Fenway Park is a Top 5 Stadium
'Tis the season for peanuts and crackerjacks. Yes, baseball is finally back, and stadiums across the country are filling with fans. It also means the yearly debate of stadium rankings is upon us.
This year has brought us a list from Men's Health Magazine. The periodical took aim at the 30 stadiums and decided to take a unique approach. Never mind the food, drink, or quality of team. This list by Tim Newcomb solely took aim at the structure and surrounding area.
I'm sure you're all wondering where our beloved Fenway Park is? For some reason, Tim has Fenway ranked 4th. This is what Newcomb had to say:
The use of steel and concrete gives Fenway a distinct aesthetic, and the changes over the last century provide plenty of modern comforts without losing the historic feel.
It seems that the Men's Health writer has the same issue most New Englanders and baseball fans have: the belief that because something is old, it must be great.
To say Fenway Park is the 4th best ballpark in America is laughable. Is it a great landmark? Sure, it's a classic. There's over 100 years of history. It's practically a museum. But, who on Earth wants to hang out in a really uncomfortable museum for four hours?
For baseball, Fenway is just okay.
Let me break down why, but only try and keep it in the writer's theme of sticking with the actual ballpark and surroundings. Here we go...
Parking: Horrendous. And yes, parking is part of the building's structure. If you decide to build a stadium in the city, you will get the negative feedback of failing to understand evolution of humanity. Parking is awful. There's nothing more brutal than parking in a different town to take a train in.
Gates: They are too tight, too few, and strangely not in alphabetical order. It makes zero sense.
Concourse: Tragically bad. Do you enjoy feeling like a sardine? Well, Fenway is for you. My favorite feature is when you are walking and there's just a section of seats that blocks your way to the next part of the park. Just a swell design.
Seats: Hahahahahahahaha (deep breath) hahahahahahahahahaha. Unless you are paying hundreds of dollars for a prime seat, you are going to need to see a physical therapist by the 7th inning. They are amazingly uncomfortable seats. I'm pretty sure some of them are still from the 1920's. On top of that, there are basically ZERO seats that actually line up correctly with the field. It's quite astonishing.
Obstructed View: It's 2022, and you can still buy a seat at Fenway where you have to watch the game on a monitor. "It's all part of the experience!" Not for $80 a pop, buddy.
Bathrooms: Listen, they could be worse. I'll give them that.
Field Dimensions: You know what, I dig them. The Green Monster is wonderful. Unique centerfield, short right field pole. I fully admit that the field dimensions are outstanding. Easily the best part of this park.
Now, if we were to include amenities and concessions, then this would really turn into a bloodbath. However, that would not be in the spirit of the originally ranking.
Stadiums That Are Better
Here are stadiums I have been to that are better than Fenway:
PNC Park - Pirates (Easily the best park)
Oriole Park at Camden Yards - Orioles (The most influential "new" park)
New Yankees Stadium - Yankees (It's giant, like the city)
Wrigley Field - Cubs (Many of the same issues as Fenway, but much more fun crowd)
Here are Stadiums I haven't been to, but after extensive research am confident are better than Fenway
Citi Field - Mets (Looks tremendous on television)
Dodger Stadium - Dodgers (Looks even better on television)
Kaufman Stadium - Royals (It has a sweet waterfall)
Oracle Park - Giants (Can't beat the views)
Coors Field - Rockies (Party deck central)
Petco Park - Padres (Perfect weather + modern stadium)
American Family Field - Brewers (Retractable roof with a slide for the mascot)
T-Mobile Park - Mariners (Incredible views, location and a retractable roof)
Truist Park - Braves (The team seems to have finally got it right with this intimate spot)
By the way, the worst stadium I have ever been to is Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. What a waste of money that was.
After compiling these, it seems I would have Fenway right around the middle of the pack. I think that's a fair spot. It's clearly not the worst. However, there's no true reason it should be close to the top.
What this really comes down to is that Fenway's a dinosaur. It will always have a unique history, but also has limitations and should be extinct.
Red Sox fans deserve better amenities, comfort, and accessibility. Heck, you could even use the same dimensions at a new park, and bring the Green Monster, too. However, until that happens, the only folks who will continue to truly enjoy Fenway are Boston's area physical therapists.