En español | Whether you're a longtime fan or it's your very first game, there's nothing like walking into a major league ballpark, crossing the concourse and stepping out into the light as the green grass of the diamond unfolds below you. For many, that alone is magic.
Fun at the Ballpark: Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buckby | July 22, 2014
But that's not the only thrill. Since trendsetting Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened in Baltimore in 1992, baseball has welcomed 20 new stadiums that meld the quaint feel of an old-time ballpark; the sound systems and video displays of a rock concert; the food, shops and amenities of a high-end shopping mall; and the kid-friendly fun of a theme park.
"Fans have a new expectation," says Paul Swaney, a ballpark connoisseur who founded Stadium Journey magazine. "Ballparks need to offer more than the game itself." They need to have kids' play areas, good food and Internet connectivity — because they have to compete with the high-definition TV and instant replay available at home on the couch." No problem. There's never been a better time to put down the remote and schedule a baseball road trip with family and friends. Here are some tips so you can get the most out of your visit.
Plan for the kids. If you're visiting with children, locate the special kids' zones that have become modern stadium staples; it'll pay off (and not just for the family bathrooms). Some stadiums, like Cleveland's Progressive Field, have multiple play areas with different themes for kids of different ages, offering everything from batting cages to mascot visits and sometimes even rides. Check online for special kids-focused days and for times when kids can run the bases on the field. Sometimes the run is before the game starts, and sometimes after it's over. In any event, if the kids are coming, plan to get there early enough for them to play before the game begins.
Pick a seat with a view. Ballparks these days do a better job of showing off their home cities' skylines, so do some research and consider seats with a killer view. (Hint: The best are often behind home plate.) Vistas worth asking for: the Gateway Arch from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, skyscrapers from Pittsburgh's PNC Park, the bay from AT&T Park in San Francisco.
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