When a deal for a new ballpark couldn’t be worked out between the Augusta GreenJackets and the City of Augusta, a municipality in another state beckoned. The team said yes … but when they moved, they didn’t even have to leave the market where they’d operated since 1988.
But they did have to cross a river.
Read our in-depth review that recounts how the GreenJackets arrived on the northern shore of the Savannah River in a shiny, new facility called SRP Park. We were there for Opening Night in North Augusta, and our photos and interviews with the team owner, the lead architect, the City representative, the team’s parent club and fans are all woven together to tell you the complete story of this impressive new ballpark.
The last time Major League Baseball played games in Puerto Rico was in 2010. MLB wanted to bring games back to the island in 2016, but the plan was nixed by the Zika virus.
When MLB announced last year that games would be played in San Juan during the 2018 season, little did they realize that two massive hurricanes would deliver crippling blows to the island last September.
And now as the Twins are about to play the Indians in Hiram Bithorn Stadium, find out what it took to bring the ballpark back to MLB standards. Read the article here.
IN THE BALLPARK
With spring-training exhibition games now in full swing, I thought you’d like to look at the articles I wrote for the two editions of the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview.
Here are links to the original, unedited text I submitted:
SURPRISE AT THE TOP
It looks at research conducted by ReviewTrackers on how attendees of exhibition games rank the ten parks of the Cactus League. (The image below gives you an idea of how it appeared in print.)
RANKING FLORIDA PARKS
This breaks down ReviewTrackers’ analysis of the 13 Grapefruit League stadiums — including the one that finished #1 out of all 23! (Below is how it looked in the Spring Training Preview.)
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IN THE BALLPARK
by Joe Mock
To provide material for articles that I would be writing for the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview, I asked ReviewTrackers, a data-mining firm in Chicago, if they would do a research project. As they had done in 2017 with the regular-season parks of Major League Baseball (and I wrote this article about those results), I wanted them to examine online comments written by folks who had attended spring-training exhibitions. They agreed.
A couple of months later, Max Schleicher of ReviewTrackers informed me that they had completed their research on 36,000 user reviews by attendees of exhibition games. They summed up the findings in a wonderful paper called Voice of the Fan, which you can view on their website.
The report revealed their findings and provided context to the results by giving examples of actual online comments that supported why fans feel the way they do about the 23 spring-training ballparks. The report was fascinating. And the results surprised me.
As someone who has scrutinized every one of the 23 spring-training complexes, I expected the newer (i.e., more expensive) complexes like Salt River Fields in Arizona and The Fitteam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (it just adopted this new corporate-sponsorship name, by the way) to top the rankings. After all, the architecture and amenities are, to me, phenomenal at these two facilities. And both cost a boatload of money to build. Read More
Check out our look at the new ballparks that will be coming online in the next couple of years — starting with SRP Park in North Augusta, South Carolina. It will be the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets of the South Atlantic League in April.
We’ll also check in on the progress of new parks in Amarillo (Texas League), North Port (Braves spring training), Fayetteville (Carolina League), Las Vegas (Pacific Coast League) and more. (Photo of the Braves’ spring training site courtesy of Fawley Bryant)
Click here to find the article!
It’s time for our annual review of the biggest news stories in the world of ballparks!
As usual, it was an eventful year, with openings (West Palm Beach, Hartford, Atlanta) and one closing (Augusta), while several big-league teams made news about new facilities. And one tiny ballpark even got to host Major Leaguers for one evening!
Check out our photo essay on the biggest stories from 2017!