Citi Field, New York: The banking giant might have a tarnished image and it didn't help for this new park to open at the height of the financial crisis, but the new home of the Mets has been a resounding hit. It gives a nod to old stadiums but still feels modern. A structural steel bridge motif throughout Citi Field symbolizes the Mets' connection to New York's five boroughs.
The park holds 45,000 fans who get a more intimate ballpark experience than at the old Shea Stadium. In fact, 42 percent of the stadium's seats are on the lowest level. And for those who can't afford those seats, there is a standing room area nearby giving anybody a close-up view of the action.
An honorable mention goes to the new Yankee Stadium across town. Both stadiums opened in 2009 and are major improvements over their replacements. We just chose Citi because it is such an improvement over the old Shea and we have been impressed with the food options there. (That, and Yankee Stadium loses points for its super-strict prohibition on bags, briefcases and just about anything else you might have on you for a post-work game.)
From upscale hamburgers and spare ribs to gourmet french fries and grilled shrimp po'boys, there is one thing that is certain: Fans won't go home hungry. There is even a beer stand featuring 28 different selections.
Both Heyman and Pahigian said that food has vastly improved at stadiums across the country. Many stadiums put an emphasis on local flavors, such a cheesesteaks in Philadelphia or pizza in New York.
"They've enhanced the menus by quite a bit," Heyman said. "There's many different offerings beyond the hot dog and Cracker Jacks."
Wrigley Field, Chicago: This baseball icon was built in 1914 and epitomizes the classic American ballpark. It is the second-oldest ballpark in the major leagues and has been home to numerous historic moments, including Babe Ruth's famous "called shot." Back in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Ruth allegedly pointed to a location in the bleachers before hitting the next pitch out of the park. Pete Rose had his 4,191st career hit there and Sammy Sosa's 60th home runs in 1998, 1999 and 2001 all took place at Wrigley.
"I hope they never replace Wrigley," Heyman said. "It's just a lot of fun to go there. It's probably not as easy for the fans there as the new parks. Still, the fun outweighs all the inconveniences."
AT&T Park, San Francisco: Opened on March 31, 2000, this stadium, which has gone through two name changes because Pacific Bell was bought out by SBC, which then merged with AT&T. Confused? Well so are some fans. But regardless of the name, the park offers wonderful views of the bay, where many kayakers will congregate during games, hoping to catch a home run.
"That is just a beautiful park and an incredible upgrade over" the Giants' previous home, Candlestick Park, Heyman said. "It reminds me that I'm not in Candlestick whenever I am there."
Fenway Park, Boston: This is America's oldest ballpark, dating back to April 20, 1912. Cy Young, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski all played at this temple to baseball.
The park probably is best known for the Green Monster, a 37-foot-tall wall in left field that looms over the field. The park still has a manually operated scoreboard and is even home to the only ladder in play in the majors.
Yes, it has narrow seats and aisles, but that's part of the charm of this park, which seats only 37,000.