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Ranking 2023 MLB Ballparks By Best Pregame Fan Experience

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 11 mins

Ranking 2023 MLB Ballparks By Best Pregame Fan Experience

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Few things signal the coming of summer more than baseball season. More than perhaps any other sport, attending a baseball game is about all the things going on outside the lines as much as what is happening between them.

The sounds, smells and energy are a strong part of the experience; often the best memories of going to baseball games are hitting the social scene with friends, or firing up the grill in the lot, or playing catch with a kid and seeing the game through their eyes. 

In other words, when it comes to Major League Baseball parks, much of the fun is done before the ticket is scanned.

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Bookies.com has compiled its second annual ranking of the top MLB pregame destinations. This comprehensive list has been updated for the 2023 season and is born from an algorithm based on multiple factors. Among them:

  1. Miles From City Center: Close to the action, accessible to fans
  2. Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a summer day with a beverage and grill.
  3. Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat.
  4. Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?

Here are all 30 MLB pregame destinations, ranked.

Ranking 2023 MLB Ballparks By Best Pregame Fan Experience 4

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Best MLB Ballparks To Visit By Pregame Experience

30. Miami Marlins

Miami is Miami, but a big reason why the Marlins consistently rank low in attendance is how difficult it is to get to the ballpark. Most of the parking consists of concrete ramps, it costs an arm and a leg and offers zero tailgating. There is no central nightlife spot near the place. (Last year: 29th)

29. Oakland Athletics

The only thing around RingCentral Coliseum is parking lots. Fortunately, tailgating is allowed – but like most other California stadiums booze is prohibited. It ranked near the bottom for amenities for families and fans, and dead-last for food and drink options. (Last year: 30th)

28. New York Yankees

The pregame options around Yankee Stadium ranked in the bottom 10 in three of the four categories, one of four teams to score that low. It ranked particularly low for families and ease of location (not surprising, being in NYC). The bar scene isn’t bad and parking is better than one might think, though alcohol is prohibited in the lots. (Last year: 28th)

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27. New York Mets

There are no bars within walking distance and while there is ample parking in the stadium’s adjacent lots, tailgating rules prohibit both alcohol and open flames. It has many of the same issues the other New York team deals with, though the Mets ranked considerably better for families. (Last year: 26th)

26. Toronto Blue Jays

There is no tailgating around the Rogers Centre and parking is among the costliest in pro sports. Also not helping: Blue Jays games ranked bottom-five in family and overall fan entertainment. Fortunately, the bar scene around the stadium ranked upper-half, and right off the highway, it’s accessible. (Last year: 23rd)

25. Washington Nationals

The bar scene around Nationals Stadium is sporadic, but there are places to hit. Tailgating isn’t allowed and families kept it in their bottom 10 once again for 2023. Anyone that’s been to Washington D.C. area knows nowhere is easy to get to, including Nats games. (Last year: 24th)

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24. Tampa Bay Rays

Inside Tropicana Field is considered laughable compared to many of MLB’s palaces. The outside isn’t a ton better, as there is no bar scene and no stadium is further away from its city center. Fortunately, the parking lots are huge and the team allows just about anything in them. Tampa ranked No. 2 in all of MLB in tailgating. (Last year: 22nd)

23. Los Angeles Dodgers

Parking is great and the games inside are usually great for Dodgers fans. But despite being surrounded by parking lots, tailgating is prohibited and it’s strictly enforced thanks to past issues. The safety issue greatly affected family sentiment. (Last year: 27th)

22. Los Angeles Angels

The weather is nice in Orange County, but there are no bars and it’s not overly close to many local Angels fans. Parking is plentiful and tailgating is allowed with one major caveat – no alcohol. (Last year: 25th)

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21. Houston Astros

Minute Maid Park is smack dab in the middle of the action in the nation’s fourth-largest city. Perhaps surprisingly, the nearest bar scene is a hefty seven-block walk. Tailgating doesn’t happen in the city center, but ample parking lots make up for it. (Last year: 21st)

20. Chicago Cubs

Anyone who’s been to Wrigleyville knows few scenes can compete with the vibe around the venerable Cubs stadium. In fact, no place ranked higher in terms of bars and entertainment. But it’s a land of extremes; the Cubs also ranked dead-last in parking and tailgating, and the location is an extreme chore to get in and out of. (Last year: 20th)

19. Chicago White Sox

Most lots around Guaranteed Rate Field offer tailgating and are open two hours before gametime. It ranked top 10 for tailgating, but bottom 10 for families, as area safety has become a growing concern. While not close to downtown Chicago, the access off the main interstate can’t be beat, and is certainly easier compared to the northside rivals. (Last year: 16th)

18. Kansas City Royals

Kauffman Stadium is considered one of the top parks for family entertainment, and the ample parking area it shares with the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium offers additional ease. Despite all the open space, true tailgating is inexplicably not allowed in a lot of areas, and it’s a bit of a hike for most fans. (Last year: 18th)

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17. Boston Red Sox

Few places can match the spectacle of entertainment around Fenway Park before games – as long as you’re an adult beverage consumer. The area ranked 21st in overall fan and family sentiment and you’re on your own when it comes to parking. Forget tailgating. One good thing ahead of the 2023 season, you'll be able to wager on Red Sox games on Massachusetts betting apps for the first time, once they go live on March 10. (Last year: 17th)

16. Texas Rangers

Few fans can get after it in the parking lots like Rangers fans. There is ample parking, and grilling and beverage partaking is open three hours before first pitch. The stadium sits between the Dallas and Fort Worth metro areas, so it’s a drive for everyone. Those looking to hit the bars before do so before parking. (Last year: 15th) 

15. Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia’s proximity to the other pro sports spots in the city allows for ample parking, and they open a whopping five hours before gametime, making Phillies games the No. 1-ranked spot for tailgating. There’s also a casino, racetrack and sportsbook adjacent to the stadium. (Last year: 10th) 

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14. Minnesota Twins

Target Field is in the middle of the Minneapolis action, a requisite for MLB’s fourth-newest stadium. Minnesota’s proximity to the city and the adjacent bar and entertainment action boosted the Twins’ home game location. Families and overall fan sentiment, however, has dwindled compared to 2022 due to perceived safety concerns in the region. (Last year: 7th)

13. Arizona Diamondbacks

Chase Field sits downtown in Phoenix and just two blocks from the Phoenix Suns’ arena, so there are ample pregame spots to hit. Parking is OK but tailgating isn’t allowed. Overall fan amenities rank in the middle of the pack. The stifling summer heat may push you right into the domed stadium anyway. (Last year: 14th)

12. Detroit Tigers

The entertaining Greektown District is a 10-minute walk, but good luck finding a spot to park by Comerica Park. Tailgating isn’t much of an option, despite the stadium being adjacent the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field. Families ranked the experience in the top 10 of MLB. That's held steady in 2023. (Last year: 13th)

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11. Atlanta Braves

The area built around Truist Park has turned the Braves’ new stadium into a destination, part of the reason why this ballpark has climbed our rankings to No. 11. In fact, it now ranks only behind the Cubs and Padres for bars and entertainment. But it is quite the hike to the outer suburbs for most for Atlanta residents. While the bar scene thrives, tailgating is permitted in just one lot. (Last year: 19th)

10. Milwaukee Brewers

No place is more synonymous with beer and sausage than Milwaukee, and Brewers fans take it to heart. There’s enough parking for everyone at American Family Field and there are nearly zero team restrictions as to what you can bring or do when they open three hours before gametime. A limited bar scene is a shuttle away, but the great majority don’t want to leave the lot, anyway. (Last year: 12th)

9. Cleveland Guardians

Progressive Field was part of a big turnaround for downtown Cleveland, and it’s still a big part of it. The area ranked top 10 in three of the four major categories, including both bar life and family activities. There’s nowhere to tailgate, but parking options aren’t as bad as other heart-of-downtown stadiums. More good news? Ohio betting apps are now live and betting on the Guardians is legal. (Last year: 9th)

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8. Colorado Rockies

LoDo has become a go-to spot in downtown Denver, and Rockies fans fill the bars on game nights. But the area around Coors Field isn’t just a spot for drinkers. While the bar scene ranks Top 10, families ranked the area top 10 as well. Lack of parking and zero tailgating dipped the score but it’s easy to have a good time in that area. It's risen a couple spots from 2022. (Last year: 11th)

7. Baltimore Orioles

Decades after Camden Yards raised the bar as to what stadium areas can do for a community, Orioles games still rank near the top in most instances.  It ranked No. 6 in overall fan sentiment, though that was down from No. 1 of a year ago. It remains an active area, but get there early and don’t pack the grill. Parking is a nightmare and there is no tailgating. (Last year: 5th)

6. Seattle Mariners

T-Mobile Park has established itself as a fun, go-to spot for everyone, as one of just five stadiums to rank top 10 in three of the four main categories. Its location, family friendliness and bar scene were all near the very top. The parking situation left much to be desired, and tailgating is prohibited, keeping Seattle just outside the top 5 for the second straight year. (Last year: 6th)

5. St. Louis Cardinals

Tailgating doesn’t really happen at Cardinals games, surprising to some considering the history and tradition associated with the team. But Busch Stadium has its own red-and-white district with drinking and kids games, helping it rank top 8 for social types and the family types alike. Its location, near everything including the Gateway Arch, pushes it into the top 5 for the first time. (Last year: 8th)

4. Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati may have ranked No. 1 had its parking and tailgating options been better; it’s tough to get down there, and your only real option is to park and walk. But Great American Ballpark is on the banks of the Ohio River and right in the heart of a Reds-related entertainment district. Families ranked the area 6th for them and the kids, and adults ranked it sixth for the bar scene. (Last year: 4th)

3. San Francisco Giants

Picturesque Oracle Park has it all, and for all ages. The area around the stadium has the bars but is flush with activities for families, too. It was the only stadium to rank in the top 3 in two different categories, taking No. 2 in fan and family sentiment and No. 3 in overall entertainment. The Giants have built Oracle Park as a destination stop. (Last year: 2nd)

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2. San Diego Padres

You can’t beat the weather, and you can’t beat the location when it comes to pregame fun. Petco Park and its area ranked top 10 in location, family activities and ease, and No. 2 in bars and other entertainment adjacent to the stadium. Now, after years of playing second fiddle in SoCal to the Dodgers, the team is a contender, adding to the vibe. That helped it bump up one spot from 2022. (Last year: 3rd)

1. Pittsburgh Pirates

For the second consecutive year, PNC Park ranked No. 1 in all of MLB. And yet, it didn’t rank No. 1 in any of the four key categories. What it did do is rank in the upper-half in all four aspects, and top six in three of the four. Its proximity to the city itself, while maintaining a spot that suits both adult groups and families, set the City of Bridges apart from the rest of MLB once again. 

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.