"With the debut of Camden Yards ... there was a movement to combine the best of the old, as far as ballpark architecture, with the modern amenities that fans expect these days," Pahigian said. "There's a nice marriage nowadays, with the comfort that modern facilities provide with the old-time feel, old-time flavor of a ballpark more akin to Ebbets Field, for example."
Safeco Field, Seattle: This ballpark, opened on July 15, 1999, offers fans sweeping views of Seattle's downtown skyline, breathtaking sunsets over Puget Sound and great sightlines to the field itself.
Safeco seats 47,116 and has a retractable roof. It, along with neighboring Qwest Field -- home of the NFL's Seahawks -- was build to replace the Kingdome. The new stadium has a brick façade, asymmetrical field and, of course, new luxury boxes and upgraded food options. Fans can order food for delivery to their seat with their cell phones. Now, that's high-tech.
"Seattle is a very charming park," Heyman said. "It's the biggest upgrade because the Kingdome was an absolute dump."
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."