Spring is in the air, March Madness has subsided, and for sports fans that means it’s time to watch America’s favorite pastime—baseball. Despite pre-season lockout woes, the Major League Baseball Season will go on as usual, as will its Minor League affiliates. For Opening Day attendees, this is a chance to get a first look at your team’s lineup, imbibe in a few cold beverages, and celebrate a fresh start, no matter last season’s record.
As a Midwesterner, Opening Day marks the time of year when family lines are drawn and conversations become dominated by one of two topics: the Chicago Cubs or the St. Louis Cardinals. Although I sported a Frank Thomas (Big Hurt) White Sox jersey in my youth, as an adult I’ve always found my allegiance at Wrigley Field.
Regardless of who you’re cheering on this Opening Day, here are nine MLB ballparks and Triple-A fields across the U.S. that are sure to get you excited for baseball season.
1. Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts
Home of the Boston Red Sox and the “Green Monster,” Fenway Park is one of the most notable and historic fields in the U.S. It was even added to the National Register of Historic Places during its centennial year in 2012 and is the oldest professional baseball stadium still in use today.
The Sox have captured nine World Series titles, despite the infamous 86-year losing streak blamed on “The Curse of the Bambino.” When Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season, fans believed the team would never win another title—that is until they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, breaking the curse, which has led to three more championships since.
With a seating capacity of more than 37,000, Fenway Park plays host to baseball fans, concert-goers, the NHL Winter Classic, and even Big Air ski and snowboarding events. Guided tours of Fenway take place daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. excluding game days, when the last tour ends 3 hours prior to the first pitch.
If you can’t make it to Boston, the Worcester Red Sox (Woo Sox) are the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox. You can catch a game at Polar Park in Worcester, Massachusetts for a fraction of the cost of Fenway, and get a glimpse at upcoming big league talent and rehabbing Red Sox players.
2. Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
Located in the heart of Chicago, Wrigley Field has been home to the Chicago Cubs since 1914. Originally named Weeghman Park, Wrigley is known for its ivy-covered outfield walls and old school manual scoreboard, both of which date back to 1937.
Similar to Fenway, Wrigley has history with Babe Ruth, whose famous “called shot” took place at Wrigley during the 1932 World Series. The Cubs were also plagued by a decades-long curse that supposedly prevented them from winning the World Series from 1945 until 2016.
Made famous by sportscaster Harry Caray, fans at Wrigley come alive during the seventh-inning stretch to sing along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Though the late Caray is no longer leading the crowd in song, celebrities like Bill Murray, Nick Offerman, and even Connor McGregor have stepped up to the plate to carry on this crowd-favorite tradition.
For a glance at upcoming Cubbies, head to Des Moines, Iowa, to catch the Iowa Cubs (I-Cubs) in action at Principal Park along the Des Moines River. With a seating capacity of 11,000, this field hosts some major Triple-A showdowns, concerts, and local events.
3. Petco Park, San Diego, California
Blocks from the San Diego Bay, Petco Park fans can enjoy a game and picturesque views of the city. Home to the San Diego Padres, this stadium is characterized by its unique architecture that blends the city’s past and present into its design.
Instead of demolishing the Western Metal Supply Company’s brick structure that dates back to 1909, architects built around it, revitalizing the historic building into a spectating and dining space with the Padres team store located on the first floor. And to top it off, one corner of the building serves as a foul pole in left field.
With views, history, and proximity to all things downtown San Diego, it’s no surprise that Petco Park hosts more than Padres baseball. Rugby, golf, tennis, basketball, and supercross events have been held in the retro-styled park, which seats more than 40,000 fans.
If you want to catch a Padres MiLB game, you’ll have to make your way to El Paso, Texas, home of the El Paso Chihuahuas. This Triple-A affiliate plays its games at Southwest University Park, its home stadium since 2014.
4. Oracle Park, San Francisco, California
With views of the San Francisco Bay, marina, and the iconic Bay Bridge, there truly isn’t a bad seat in the house when it comes to Oracle Park. Home of the San Francisco Giants, this ballpark is filled with entertaining attractions and baseball history, including an 80-foot Coca-Cola bottle that functions as a slide, a giant baseball glove outside of left field, and a statue of the legendary Willie Mays at the park’s entrance.
The Giants are one of the winningest teams in baseball history with eight World Series titles. They’re also known for sending some of the league’s top home run hitters to the plate. There was even a time in the park’s history when Portuguese water dogs were deployed in McCovey Cove (a water inlet outside the park) to retrieve balls that sailed over the stadium’s walls. The Barry Bonds era put an end to this epic game of fetch as it became unsafe for the dogs to navigate through the many boats waiting to catch his home runs.
Since 2015, the Sacramento River Cats have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Giants. Though previously connected with the Oakland A’s, the River Cats have captured several MiLB titles and often have one of the highest game attendance records in the league. You can watch the River Cats at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, California.
5. Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
Busch Stadium (also known as New Busch Stadium or Busch Stadium III) opened in 2006, replacing Busch Memorial Stadium in downtown St. Louis. The retro-styled red brick stadium takes fans back in time with a classic ballpark look and feel. Once inside, you can catch sweeping views of the St. Louis skyline and the beautiful Gateway Arch.
The St. Louis Cardinals have one of the most sought-after tickets in the league. The Redbird nation proves every year to be one of the most dedicated fan bases in baseball. What the stadium lacks in modern frills and entertainment, is made up by the intense energy of Cardinal fans.
Before or after the game, you can visit Ballpark Village, a baseball-themed district that offers several dining, drinking, and entertainment options.
For Cardinal Triple-A action, make your way south to Memphis, Tennessee, to watch the Redbirds at AutoZone Park. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, this park is one of the most expensive MiLB stadiums ever built and gives fans an MLB experience without the hefty ticket price.
6. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (OPACY) has been an instant fan-favorite from the moment it opened. Oriole Park was one of the first stadiums to incorporate the retro-styled design that many parks built in the 1990s and 2000s adopted.
Like Petco Park in San Diego, the home of the Orioles kept the former B&O Warehouse intact during the stadium’s construction. It now serves as office space and club seating for games and is a target for heavy-hitting batters aiming for a home run. Although it’s never been hit during an actual game, Ken Griffey Jr. did manage to hit the warehouse’s brick exterior during the 1993 All-Star Game’s home run competition.
Between the warehouse and the ballpark, you’ll find Eutaw Street, a popular concession area where fans flock before, during, and after the game for drinks and food. Adjacent to Oriole Park is the home of the Baltimore Ravens, the city’s NFL team. Both stadiums reside within the Camden Yards Sports Complex.
You’ll find Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. The Norfolk Tides have played ball at Harbor Park in downtown Norfolk since 1993. The park is home to several of the city’s major events and even hosted MLB action in 2007 with a sold-out exhibition game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals.
7. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
California’s third stadium on this list is also the third-oldest ballpark in the U.S., after Fenway and Wrigley. Dodger Stadium is the largest baseball stadium in the world with a seating capacity of more than 56,000. Though it has undergone several renovations over the years, it still holds a classic baseball charm, and the backdrop of palm trees and mountains gives it that relaxing California vibe.
While baseball giants like Sandy Koufax, Don Sutton, Orel Hershiser, and Mike Piazza have all called Dodger Stadium their home, this park has also hosted several big names outside of baseball. Transformers, Rock of Ages, and Fast and Furious all filmed scenes at the stadium, and so did several other Hollywood productions.
Dodger Stadium can add one more event accolade to its list as it’s set to host baseball and softball games for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
To catch a Triple-A Dodgers game you’ll have to leave sunny California and head to Oklahoma City, home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Games are played at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in the city’s popular Bricktown entertainment district.
8. PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
On the banks of the Allegheny River sits PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. With a backdrop of the Pittsburgh skyline and the Roberto Clemente Bridge, this urban park embraces the city’s key features that the previous park (Three Rivers Stadium) failed to showcase.
As one of the smallest stadiums in the league, PNC gives fans an intimate experience, with seating designed to ensure views of the field from every location within the park. Its limestone exterior also sets this park apart from the classic brick look that most stadiums have adopted.
While the park has seen its fair share of updates in its 21 years of operation, possibly the most anticipated renovations will be revealed this year during the Opening Day game. New gathering spaces, eateries, and kid-friendly areas have been added for the 2022 season, along with other park upgrades.
In the Midwest, you’ll find the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pirates franchise. This MiLB team plays its games at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis, near Gainbridge Fieldhouse (home of the Indiana Pacers) and Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts).
9. Yankee Stadium, New York City, New York
Although it’s not the same stadium that Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Whitey Ford, and Babe Ruth called home, Yankee Stadium is still a mecca for baseball fans. Located in the Bronx borough of New York City, the new stadium was finished in 2009 and included several design features that incorporated the aesthetic of the original park, which held a lot of history for the Yankee franchise.
That’s not to say that the new stadium didn’t come with plenty of updates. From luxe party suites and martini bars to a steakhouse and the Hard Rock Cafe, the new stadium doesn’t shy away from modern amenities. Possibly the most notable stadium feature is the Yankees Museum on the lower level of the park that’s filled with memorabilia from some of baseball’s greatest players.
Love them or hate them, the Yankees are a staple in baseball history, and Yankee Stadium immortalizes some of the game’s most famous moments and players—making this a must-visit park.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (SWB RailRiders) are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Located in Moosic, Pennsylvania, the RailRiders play ball at PNC Field. The Yankees used this field as a training site in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when MiLB games were canceled.