Ranking the best MLB ballparks in the event of a neutral-site World Series in the winter

Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement on draft, service time and salary advances amid COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday as we slowly crawl toward a plan on how to deal with a shortened season.  In looking at the reporting going on around what the season is going to look like, there’s a possibility we’ll see an extended playoff format and playoff games in neutral parks in the winter.

That gives us the opportunity to break down what ballparks would work best for a neutral site scenario. 

First off, weather is a big concern. We don’t need to be dealing with snow or frigid temperatures. That eliminates the ballparks of the following teams right off the bat: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Twins, Indians, White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Pirates and Rockies. 

Let’s rank the ballparks we’re left with. Things to consider are how attractive the city is to visit in the winter, what’s the area around the ballpark like (that is to say, we need hotels and sports bars surrounding it instead of a residential area with bad traffic because we need fans to want to travel there) and now nice the ballpark is. This is incredibly objective, so any accusations of “bias” are unnecessary. Of course I have biases.

1. Petco Park in San Diego

Enter my bias! I love San Diego. It’s probably my favorite city to visit. There are several walking-distance hotels from Petco and it’s surrounded by a variety of places to eat and drink before and after the game. With it being on the west coast, we’d also get to see day baseball for a few innings. 

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres


2. Globe Life Field in Texas (Arlington)

I obviously haven’t been here yet, but I know the area and it’s excellent. There are good hotel options within shouting distance along with some restaurants and sports bars. It’s also right next to where the Cowboys play (make a weekend of it?) and Six Flags Over Texas if you wanted to ride some roller coasters on the trip. 

3. Minute Maid Park in Houston

The weather would be fine if they left the roof open and they could always close it. I actually think this is a great and underrated ballpark. The area surrounding the ballpark has lots of walking-distance hotels in addition to excellent food and drink options. 

4. SunTrust Park in Atlanta

Weather would not be an issue and there are good lodging options right around the park. Plus, it’s pretty new. That’s a bonus. 

5. Oracle Park in San Francisco

I’d have it higher but come night time it could be a bit nippy here in the winter. Nothing we couldn’t play in, but I always prefer warm weather baseball. The area around the ballpark is excellent and there are walking-distance hotels. It would be a fine choice. 

6. Chase Field in Arizona (Phoenix)

Weather would not be an issue and that ballpark is much more fun with the roof open. The food/lodging options in the nearby area and excellent. This would be higher, but the ballpark is not one of the nicer ones these days. 

7. Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Orange County weather in the winter is absolutely playable. The park is older, but it’s not in bad shape or anything. There are some decent food/bar/lodging options, too. We’re seven ballparks deep and each of them would work quite well. 

8. T-Mobile Park in Seattle

Here’s another that works pretty well. It’s a good area for lodging and eats and there’s a roof. Points are docked because I’d prefer the option to play outside and we’d likely be looking at 40s and rain type weather. Still, it could work. Seattle deserves playoff baseball at this point, no? 

9. Dodger Stadium in LA

First off, Los Angeles in the winter is perfectly fine and, as noted on San Diego, we’d get to see day baseball to start the game. Dodger Stadium is a great ballpark, too. Why isn’t this higher, then? 

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers


Except … good lord, have you ever seen the parking lot situation after a game? It’s an utter nightmare to leave and there aren’t many options around the ballpark to stay or hang out at a sports bar. It’s in the middle of a residential area. It should also be noted that Dodger Stadium is gigantic. It tops the majors with 56,000 seats. Unless the Dodgers were in the World Series, I’d worry about how many empty seats there would be for something like Game 2. 

10. Marlins Park in Miami

Miami weather in the winter! Yay! There’s a problem, though. The ballpark is in the middle of a residential area and doesn’t have mass public transportation available. After the Home Run Derby in 2017 — full house, everyone leaving at once — it was an utter nightmare. There were people stuck in the parking garages without being able for move for hours. It was near impossible to find a ride share (Lyft/Uber). It just doesn’t work for the fans. 

11. Rogers Centre in Toronto

It’s indoors, so we wouldn’t have to worry about the cold temperatures, but the cold weather outside might deter fans from wanting to travel to the series. 

12. Miller Park in Milwaukee

There’s a roof and it’s a nice ballpark, but the parking lot situation with few walking-distance hotels makes this less attractive. Plus, people would much rather visit the cities above than Milwaukee during the winter. We’d be liable to see the parking lot situation get way worse due to two feet of snow. 

13. Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg

There’s a reason it’s often only half full. The weather can only get this ballpark so far. 

14. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

There’s a reason the A’s have been trying to get a new ballpark for years. If we’re going to the Bay Area, go to the San Francisco side. 

I’d be good with any of the top eight, but really, we don’t need to overthink this. The answer is San Diego. 

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