Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Silver Linings R Us
2005-08-31 19:07
by Mark T.R. Donohue

According to a semi-scientific study, Coors Field and Rockies baseball rank third in the majors in "Fan Value Index." They're behind only Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, so obviously recent playoff history is not something that was taken into account very highly. Unsurprisingly, the Mets and Marlins finished last and 29th. I want to change the channel when I even see Shea or Joe Robbie on TV, let alone attend a game at either yard in person.

The list has an interesting structure. The traditonally great-drawing teams with old stadiums and expensive ticket prices (Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees) are all clustered together. The bottom five is all outdated parks, with the exception of Detroit's Comerica Park -- what happened there? Oh, right, it's in Detroit. Unsurprisingly, Tropicana Field and its hideous pockmarked gray turf is 23rd. Less predictable is the Giants' SBC Park's placing, 24th. It's true that the ticket prices there are borderline extortionate, but SBC is extremely pretty within and without and is within walking distance of downtown San Francisco.

Other surprises: Busch Stadium at number six? The crowds are good, but the stadium is decrepit and that part of St. Louis is a graveyard. Bank One at ninth? The ticket prices aren't that far removed from SBC's and the place has the atmosphere of an airplane hangar. I do think Miller Park is extremely underrated and The Big A in Anaheim is probably the stadium among those I haven't visited that I'd like to see the most. Still, the list seems to reward bad teams with new parks, who would be more than glad to raise ticket prices if only the team was good enough to get people into the seats based on their competitive strength.

I would have liked to see a few additional categories evaluated, particularly the availability of decent tickets for around $15. It's well-known that you can't get tickets cheap for Cubs games, but if you shell out every seat in the house except the obstructed-view ones is pretty good. On the other hand for ten dollars you can sit in the centerfield upper deck in Oakland, which is actually a pretty good view. By contrast if you have any interest in actually seeing a baseball game at Comiskey Park, it's going to be twenty-five bucks at least. The rightfield bleachers at Coors Field might be my favorite seats in all of baseball for around eighteen bucks -- of course, I did catch a home run there.

The thing that really leaps out in SI's breakdown of Coors' good points is an appreciation for the neighborhood (it's cool, but it's no Wrigleyville) and an apparently impressive number of bathrooms. Says here Coors Field has 29 men's rooms. Who knew? Gives me something interesting to do at the next game I go to, anyway.

Hey, Jamey Wright is out of the rotation. That only took five months longer than it should have.

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