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The 2017 Ballpark of the Year

We are very pleased to announce that our 18th Annual Ballpark of the Year is Dunkin’ Donuts Park, the first-year home of the Hartford Yard Goats. (Official press release is here.)

Every year since 2000, has presented a plaque to the best new or renovated ballpark for that season. You can check out the list of winning parks and their architects here.

Hartford’s park wasn’t the most expensive baseball stadium that opened this year, or even the second most costly.  Those would be SunTrust Park in Atlanta ($672 million) and The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ($148 million).

While Dunkin’ Donuts Park’s $71 million pricetag isn’t a paltry sum, it bought an awesome ballpark. To learn why the park won the award (and read what the team’s owner, the park’s architect, Hartford’s mayor, the President of Minor League Baseball and the Farm Director of the Rockies had to say about it), I urge you to check out the official press release on the award here.

To read our massive in-depth review of the park — written right after it opened in April — go to our article entitled Ending Hartford’s Losing Streak.

Sights from 3K day

It’s no secret that my favorite player is Adrian Beltre. When I had the opportunity to witness his 3,000th hit, I made a beeline to Arlington, Texas on July 30th.

Check out my photos and thoughts on Beltre’s big day by clicking here.

A look at the Carolina League’s two new parks

Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but an interesting change was made within the structure of Minor League Baseball’s High-A level during the past off-season. Two California League franchises with woeful facilities were “contracted.” At the same time, the Carolina League was expanded, as two teams were added less than 80 miles apart.

The new teams are the Buies Creek Astros and the Down East Wood Ducks, both in North Carolina. We attended home games for the two clubs recently, and the result is articles on each team’s ballpark. Of course, we provide background on how the teams came to be and how that impacted the parks.

These aren’t the in-depth reviews that newly constructed parks receive on this site, but we think you’ll enjoy reading our thoughts on what it’s like to attend games at the two newest entrants in the Carolina League — one in a park that’s new to the league and the other in a facility that spent decades in the circuit.

First is a look at Jim Perry Stadium, the park being borrowed from Campbell University by the Buies Creek Astros. Then check out our assessment of Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC.

Two very different parks with very different approaches to the gameday experience … but both are extremely enjoyable!

Elmore announces three-team shake-up

Article and photos by Joe Mock,
All rights reserved

Amarillo is the winner. Helena is the loser — although folks in Colorado Springs and Wichita might not be feeling very happy right now, either.

In a move that changes the caliber of baseball that will be played in four cities, the Elmore Sports Group announced that three teams they own will be moving following the 2018 season. In a series of moves that has been rumored for months, the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League will move to San Antonio, while the Alamo City’s Double-A Texas League team currently called the Missions will move north to Amarillo. The short-season rookie-level team currently in Helena, Montana will transfer to Colorado Springs. The Helena Brewers are in the Pioneer League.

This will leave Helena’s Kindrick Field (see adjacent photo) — arguably the worst of the Pioneer League’s eight facilities — without affiliated baseball in 2019. Except for 2001 and 2002, the Pioneer League has fielded a team there every season since 1978. It’s likely an independent-league or college-wood-bat team could fill the void at Kindrick once the Brewers move to Colorado Springs.

When the Texas League moves to Amarillo in 2019, the team hopes to be in a new ballpark planned for the city’s downtown. The City has undergone quite a bit of squabbling about the funding for the new stadium (including a non-binding referendum at the ballot box), but with a pledge from Elmore to make it happen, the former San Antonio Missions will likely celebrate opening day in 2019 in a brand-new stadium.

A press conference announcing the news was held at the new $42-million headquarters of Xcel Energy in Amarillo. The nine-acre site for the ballpark is directly across the street. Read More

A look at the new park in Cleburne, Texas

There are four new ballparks in pro baseball this year. We’ve already looked at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, SunTrust Park and Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The last of the four to open is The Depot at Cleburne Station, home of the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association.

Check out our thoughts on the facility, which was designed by sports-architecture heavyweights Populous. Our article can be found here.

The Attendance Answer Man

Whenever I’m writing an article about a ballpark and I need some analysis on its attendance figures, I always turn to the exemplary statistical work of David Kronheim. He’s never let me down.

His company is called Number Tamer, and that’s their logo on the right. David spends most of this time doing analysis for marketing firms and major retailers, helping them make sense of mountains of data about their customers and advertising. Because of his writing skills, he can provide these companies with smart, relevant summaries of their data and what they can do with it. He’s a unique accountant, in that he knows how to communicate what numbers mean, not just what the numbers are.

Hence the name “number tamer.” He’s extremely talented at taming the statistical data that companies compile — particularly about their advertising — but don’t know what to do with. He’s worked with non-profits, huge retail chains, automobile manufacturers and many more.

And he combines this talent with his passion for baseball in his analysis of baseball attendance results. The result is his annual Major League Baseball Attendance Analysis Report. He’s just released his report for 2016, and as usual, it’s a doozy.

The report on last year’s MLB results weighs in at an impressive 237 pages. There are sections for each of the 30 MLB teams, as well as topics as varied as attendance in new ballparks over the years, teams’ greatest increases and declines in attendance, and a careful look at the post-war year of 1946, when MLB saw the biggest one-year jump in attendance (a stunning 70.9%) in its history.

I bet you think that it would cost you a lot of money to get your hands on this kind of thorough report. Wrong. It’s yours for the asking. You can download it here:

2016 Major League Baseball Attendance Report

And if you think this kind of statistical analysis might be boring, you couldn’t be more wrong. The study of the sports’ attendance history is a study of baseball itself. For instance, in 1954, the last home game played by the Philadelphia A’s before they moved to Kansas City drew only 1,715 in Connie Mack Stadium, while the biggest crowd ever for a relocated team in its new home was 78,672 when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to the LA Coliseum in 1958 (both of these can be found on page 229 of the report).

Baseball fans owe a debt of gratitude to Kronheim (shown in the photo) for his exhaustive yet fascinating look at the sport. Take a few minutes and browse through the report today. You’ll be a better-informed fan. And then post a comment below thanking Kronheim for his love of the sport and his willingness to apply his number-taming skills to this endeavor.