Rating Ballpark Locations Objectively: A Very Crude Attempt

See the updated version of these ratings using Walk Score here.

Last night, the author attended with his wife/PCA an independent Frontier League game between the Schaumburg Boomers and Traverse City Beach Bums at the latter’s home park in Traverse City, Michigan. While so doing, that same author and that same wife stumbled into a discussion of what ballparks — major-league or otherwise — might be said to have the most appealing locations. Wrigley Field, for example, is excellent in this regard: it’s situated in a lively urban neighborhood, surrounded by bars and restaurants*, and is accessible by public transit — more easily than by car, in fact. From the author’s experience, much the same can be said for Fenway Park in Boston and San Francisco’s AT&T Park. Angels Stadium, on the other hand — as with any park surrounded entirely by parking lot — offers little in terms of this sort of ambiance.

*Although, it should be noted, not necessarily bars a reasonable person would find him- or herself patronizing.

It occurred to the author that there might be a means by which to assess objectively the relative merits of a ballpark’s location. The table below — of all 30 major-league ballparks sorted by the population density of their relevant zip codes — represents an entirely preliminary and very crude attempt at doing that. The author’s reasoning is thus: areas with many bars, other sorts of businesses, etc., tend also to be densely populated; areas that are surrounded by parking lots and accessible almost exclusively by car will tend to be less densely populated.

Below is the table. Note that Pop/SqMi is population per square mile for each stadium’s zip code and zPop is the standard deviation of the square mileage from the mean for all stadia. Note also that the author gave up finding any Canadian data almost immediately. Data is from USA.com. Some brief notes follow the table.

Rank Park City State Zip Code Pop/SqMi zPop
1 Yankee Stadium Bronx NY 10451 44,991.81 3.23
2 Citi Field Queens NY 11368 41,196.94 2.88
3 Fenway Park Boston MA 02215 29,951.66 1.85
4 Wrigley Field Chicago IL 60613 18,529.32 0.80
5 AT&T Park San Francisco CA 94107 14,131.37 0.40
6 Marlins Park Miami FL 33125 13,074.79 0.30
7 Target Field Minneapolis MN 55403 10,811.56 0.09
8 Nationals Park Washington DC 20003 10,576.14 0.07
9 US Cellular Field Chicago IL 60616 10,485.08 0.06
10 Citizens Bank Park Philadelphia PA 19148 10,290.23 0.04
11 Dodger Stadium Los Angeles CA 90012 9,445.42 -0.04
12 Minute Maid Park Houston TX 77002 8,120.64 -0.16
13 Petco Park San Diego CA 92101 7,536.27 -0.21
14 Comerica Park Detroit MI 48201 6,390.27 -0.32
15 Coors Field Denver CO 80205 6,309.51 -0.32
16 Great American Ball Park Cincinnati OH 45202 5,364.97 -0.41
17 Miller Park Milwaukee WI 53214 4,771.28 -0.47
18 Angel Stadium Anaheim CA 92806 4,608.65 -0.48
19 PNC Park Pittsburgh PA 15212 4,237.74 -0.51
20 Camden Yards Baltimore MD 21230 4,013.53 -0.53
21 Progressive Field Cleveland OH 44115 3,679.59 -0.57
22 Tropicana Field St Petersburg FL 33705 3,133.30 -0.62
23 Oakland Coliseum Oakland CA 94621 3,127.64 -0.62
24 Turner Field Atlanta GA 30315 2,988.09 -0.63
25 Rangers Ballpark Arlington TX 76011 2,680.06 -0.66
26 Chase Field Phoenix AZ 85004 2,433.94 -0.68
27 Busch Stadium St. Louis MO 63102 1,170.21 -0.80
28 Kaufman Stadium Kansas City MO 64129 908.95 -0.82
29 Safeco Field Seattle WA 98134 156.96 -0.89
N/A Rogers Centre Toronto ON M5V 1J1 N/A N/A

AT&T Park, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field are all well-acquitted by this methodology, which is promising.

• From the author’s experience, the area around Safeco Field is perfectly reasonable — and certainly not the worst that he’s encountered. The same is likely true for PNC Park. Both instances reveal the possible flaws associated with this methodology — namely, that it’s dependent on zip codes, the borders of which will be defined differently for every park.

• A brief inspection of Google Maps seems to reveal that Citi Field is bordered almost exclusively by auto-body shops of one type or another. The author would be grateful to any reader who could speak to this, or to the general environment around that park.

• Regarding the point above, perhaps there is data available of the number of bars/restaurants within X number of blocks of a stadium. It occurs to the author that a service like Yelp might be of some benefit here.

• Alternatively, perhaps there is also data — although the author has no idea where to find it — regarding the size of every stadium’s parking lot, either by number of total spaces or area.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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I wonder if walk scores (walkscore.com) would be a better way to assess the locations of a ballpark. Just entering a few ballparks’ addresses, I got: AT&T Park – 92, Wrigley Field – 88, Safeco Field – 80, Dodger Stadium – 58, Citizens Bank Park 51…