The most popular spring training park


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

Finally, a new way to rank MLB parks

You’ve seen them in countless sports publications, on the MLB Network, on travel websites, on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, on The Travel Channel, and of course right here at

We’re talking about rankings of big-league ballparks.

In fact, my first writing assignment from USA TODAY was to pen a piece ranking the 30 MLB parks. This combines three of USA TODAY‘s very favorite things: lists; sports; rankings.

You probably think that the 30 stadiums have been ranked every possible way. Well, they hadn’t — until now.

Max Schleicher works for a start-up firm in Chicago called ReviewTrackers. Max explains that the company, among other things, analyzes online reviews of products and services to assess “customer service insights.” Obviously, such data would be invaluable to marketers.

“Plain and simple, I like playing around with data,” Schleicher told “Doubly so for baseball data.” That’s what motivated him to start looking at feedback about ballparks in ways never before attempted. Read More