The 19th annual Ballpark of the Year award goes to …

This is the 19th straight year that has presented its Ballpark of the Year Award, and the honor for 2018 goes to SRP Park, the first-year home of the Augusta GreenJackets of the Class A South Atlantic League.

Read our thoughts on the two new pro parks of 2018 here. This article also appeared in USA TODAY Sports Weekly.

Check out the press release announcing the award that went to media outlets. It provides reaction from the owner of the GreenJackets, the City Administrator for North Augusta, the designer of the ballpark and the President of Minor League Baseball.

Our original review of SRP Park is here. It was posted right after the park opened in April.

And as always, follow us on Twitter so you can see the latest ballpark news and my photos of the parks I visit throughout the season!

Rosemont proves it’s all here

The Village of Rosemont, Illinois (note that they are so small that they are considered a Village, not a City) likes to claim that “It’s All Here.” Indeed, they have lots and lots of entertainment, shopping and dining options within its tiny two-square-mile area … but the best entertainment option might be the one that just opened.

Impact Field is the $63-million home of the Chicago Dogs of the independent American Association. We visited on Opening Weekend of the park, and you can now read what we thought about it. You’ll also see 15 photos that you won’t find anywhere else.


The GreenJackets cross the river

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.

Read here.

MLB’s Return to Puerto Rico

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.

Articles in the USA TODAY Spring Training Preview


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:


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.)


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.)

Every week, you’ll find great articles like these in USA TODAY Sports Weekly! Subscribe today and take advantage of a special offer!

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