2015 – The Ballpark Year in Pictures

Big Stories of 2015: A’s move into rehabbed HoHoKam; Biloxi basks in glow of much-delayed park; All Star Game a hit at GABP; Music City rejoices over new park; West Virginia celebrates

Text and photos by Joe Mock, BaseballParks.com
All rights reserved

What a great year for ballparks! Every year, we take a stroll down memory lane, looking back at the biggest ballpark stories. You might find it interesting to go back and look at these year-end reviews from the past. We have links to them here. During 2016, for the most up-to-date ballpark news, following us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

While there were no brand-new spring training parks in 2015, one received a major overhaul. HoHoKam Stadium had been abandoned by the Cubs following the spring of 2013. During 2014, the park and the nearby complex underwent a $26 million renovation in preparation for the arrival of the A’s in 2015. Check out our photo essay on the changes.

The Twins and Lee County, Florida spent more than that in Fort Myers. The CenturyLink Sports Complex is now as nice as any in the state following $48.5 million in improvements. While fans might not see all of the new structures back in the player-development area (a year-round academy, new clubhouse facilities and a novel training hill), they will see the spectacular changes in the complex’s ballpark, Hammond Stadium.

Nashville’s aging Greer Stadium was easily the worst facility in Triple A. It took years of arguing and planning, but Music City finally constructed a excellent replacement for Greer. First Tennessee Park opened on April 17, 2015. Here is the very first pitch in the new ballpark.

If you haven’t read our in-depth review of Biloxi”s new MGM Park, you really should. It’s the story of the Gulf Coast’s comebacks from Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf oil spill. It’s also the story of overcoming tremendous odds to make the ballpark happen.

The 2015 MLB All Star Game was played in the city where pro baseball began: Cincinnati. Great American Ball Park was a fine host for the mid-season classic.

During 2015, the Atlanta Braves made announcement after announcement about new features for their under-construction ballpark, which will be called SunTrust Park. It will open in April of 2017.When fans start attending games there, they will be stunned by the amount of shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment they’ll find in the shadow of the park. (Rendering courtesy of the Atlanta Braves)

Minor League Baseball vacated Grayson Stadium in Savannah in 2015. The 89-year-old facility had been the home of the Savannah Sand Gnats (and their various team nicknames) since 1984. In 2016, the franchise will move into a brand-new ballpark in Columbia, SC, where they will be known as the Fire Flies.

The sun is also setting on New Britain Stadium in Connecticut. The Rock Cats are making a 14-mile move to downtown Hartford for 2016, where they will be known as the Yard Goats.

Municipalities and teams can’t afford to build brand new parks like they used to … but some teams are breathing new life into their existing stadiums by creating “social” spaces that replace seldom-used seats with hot new gathering places. Cleveland’s Progressive Field did a spectacular job with this, adding stands featuring food from popular local eateries (right), a children’s area and a huge new bar.

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the impressive accomplishments by two good friends of mine. “Ballpark Rob” Wilken attended games at all 30 MLB parks during the 2015 season, racking up 55,000 air miles in the process. Brian Moore (left) attended a game at his 500th different ballpark. Number 500 was, impressively, Pingtung Baseball Stadium in Taiwan.

It poured all afternoon, but it didn’t stop fans from packing Monongalia County Ballpark in Granville, WV to see the first pro game in the fabulous new ballpark. The home of the first-year West Virginia Black Bears of the NY-Penn League has a wonderful hillside setting and one of the most beautiful views in the Minors. No wonder this gem was named our 2015 Ballpark of the Year! And if that wasn’t enough to celebrate, the Black Bears also won the NY-Penn League championship!

Visit our 2014 Ballpark Year In Review here.

Return to the Ballpark Essays page

What do you think was the biggest ballpark story of 2015? Have any thoughts about the news items above? Post a comment below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *