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Major League Baseball is popular for a number of reasons, among them young superstars like Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge. A significant attraction is the game’s storied history, so we wanted to dig into the oldest stadiums in the MLB, and provide new fans with some key details.
Fenway Park in Boston is the oldest stadium still in use in the MLB, followed only by a couple of years by Wrigley Field in Chicago. That each of these facilities has hosted baseball contests for over a century speaks volumes for the ballparks and their franchises.
It also says much about the top level of professional baseball play. Probably more so than any other major sport, baseball fans relish the history and traditions of Major League Baseball, and many of them cherish the old ballparks.
In reality, only 2 current major league stadiums were opened before the 1960s. After a period of opening mostly bland, enclosed circular stadiums with artificial turf for multi-use play (with football), a new stadium in Toronto (with the first retractable roof) seems to have opened the floodgates for construction of new stadiums built only for baseball.
Soon, starting really with Camden Yards in Baltimore, came a renaissance of sorts for baseball stadiums, as clubs skipped the uniform distance of outfield fences for unusual angles, asymmetry, and classic touches paying homage to their home cities. In short, the newer stadiums were designed to look more like the baseball stadiums of yesteryear.
The 13 Oldest MLB Ballparks Still in Use
The oldest stadium in continual use by a Major League Baseball club is Fenway Park in Boston ~ which opened the same month as the sinking of the Titanic, in 1912! Long the beloved home for the hometown Red Sox, much of this park looks at least somewhat like it did over a century ago, including the 37-foot-tall “Green Monster” wall behind the left-fielder. This stadium still uses a scoreboard operated by hand (by a person behind the Monster!), and has elements named by team fans over the years like Pesky Pole in right field, or Fisk’s Pole in left field.
Not far behind Fenway Park at all, Wrigley Field in Chicago has been hosting Cubs games since 1914, and remains known for its tradition and charm. What most new baseball fans don’t know is that Wrigley opened as the stadium for Chicago’s team (Whales) in the new Federal League, which lasted only 2 seasons. The Cubs took over in 1916, and 4 years later the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. bought the club and named it Cubs Park. With its iconic ivy growing on brick outfield walls, the ballpark has been called Wrigley Field since 1926.
It is surprising to many fans that only a couple of current MLB stadiums are older than this beauty in Chavez Ravine just outside of downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1962. After over 6 decades of baseball play, plus some huge concerts, Dodger Stadium has been a gem since its first opening day ~ and remains an example of excellence in ballpark design. Adding to a ballpark with no obstructed-view seats is a huge parking lot with access to multiple freeways, and about as many concession stands inside as one stadium can handle. Upper-level seats can provide views of the downtown skyline, or Hollywood Hills.
4. Angel Stadium, Anaheim, California, home of the Los Angeles Angels
It is almost as surprising to learn that Angel Stadium is even among the oldest in the MLB, let alone in the top 5! Just a freeway ride away from Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium opened in 1966, with its distinctive “Big A” metal tower beyond the left-field fence. That A still remains, but from inside one can only see the very tip. The stadium was enclosed to house the Rams of the National Football League, then blown open and revamped in a more modern stadium design with an open view out of the facility, a pedestrian walkway around the outfield, a cool kids play area, and some interesting rocks over the outfield wall designed to mimic the California coast.
The now-called RingCentral Stadium opened in 1966 as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with intent to house the NFL’s Raiders and the MLB’s A’s, along with off-season events. Until the Raiders left town for Las Vegas in 2019, this venue was the last remaining U.S. stadium shared by pro baseball and football teams. That “multi-use” trend started in the 1960s but watched its popularity with baseball fans wane as the encircled monstrosities lacked charm favored by baseball fanatics. In fact, the A’s franchise has sought for years a new baseball-only stadium, to date without success.
6. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, home of the Royals
That a stadium opened in the 1970s is among the oldest still in use in the MLB speaks volumes for how many venues since then have been replaced. Opening in 1973 as Royals Stadium, this beauty in many ways emulates Dodger Stadium (notice the similarities in the uniform colors for both teams?). Except for its most-prominent feature, water fountains beyond the outfield fences. In recent years seating has been constructed around the fountains beyond the outfield, but the ever-spouting water fountains remain visible, and the Royals team continues to ebb and flow between being competitive, and rebuilding.
Rogers Centre was a very big deal when it opened in 1989 as the SkyDome, mainly for its fully functional retractable roof ~ the first of its kind anywhere. The venue also has a hotel built into it beyond the centerfield fence, a great curiosity years ago. However, the stadium and its artificial turf has not aged well, and in down seasons the franchise has threatened to move if the local community cannot help with financing a new stadium. Though in recent years the team has become competitive again, time may be running out for the relationship between the Blue Jays and Rogers Centre.
In line with what the Blue Jays organization feels about its home stadium, perhaps the single MLB facility that generates the most complaints is Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, opened in 1990 as the Florida Suncoast Dome (but did not host its first MLB game until the team began play in 1998). For as long as anyone remembers, the club has been threatening to move the franchise, unless it can be assisted by the community in getting out of the last domed stadium with artificial turf in the majors. The trouble is a low seating capacity, and poorly designed dome underside ~ it’s white like a baseball, making it hard for fielders to see pop flies, and catwalks that struck balls can actually hit!
Said to be the last of new stadiums to be designed with then-contemporary styles, Guaranteed Rate Field opened for the 1991 season under the name of the previous stadium for the Sox, Comiskey Park. After 81 years as the original Comiskey Park, then just 12 more as the new Comiskey, the stadium name changed to U.S. Cellular Field in 2003, after the company that purchased its naming rights for 20 years. Now Guaranteed Rate field through the 2029 season. Some say the timing of this stadium’s design was unfortunate, as the very next new MLB stadium would set the design preferences that remains to this day.
Officially Oriole Park at Camden Yards, designers of this venue ignored the long-used “cookie-cutter” approach to baseball stadium design, opting instead for something fans had not seen in many years. That is, an asymmetrical, “retro” look with nods to the past, and neat unique features like the huge B&O Warehouse building towering behind the right field fence ~ which architects chose to include in the design rather than demolish. The design won many awards, and Baltimore fans appreciated the significant upgrade from the old Memorial Stadium that the O’s had used since 1954.
With the beauty and popularity of Camden Yards in mind, designers of the ballpark known as Jacobs Field when it opened in 1992 took the retro style theme and ran with it to great success. This beauty, originally named for then-team owners Richard and David Jacobs, before the name change in 2008. That save year, fans voted this the best stadium in Major League Baseball. Big-time fans of the Guardians still refer to the venue as “The Jake.” The timing of the opening couldn’t have been better, as the then-Indians began several years of phenomenal success, after decades of suffering with a poor on-field product.
The following year (1995) saw the opening of Coors Field, which allowed the home-team Rockies to get away from football’s Mile High Stadium for games as they had in the franchise’s first 2 years of existence. While the stadium is known mostly as a hitter’s paradise ~ due to the high altitude, baseballs travel further, so the outfield fences were moved back. There still are a lot of home runs, but also more space in front of the fences for hits to evade defenders. The main artistic features are beyond the centerfield fence: landscape designed as the environment of the Rocky Mountains, complete with pine trees, waterfalls, and fountains.
When opened in 1998 to house the expansion Diamondbacks, Chase Field became the first MLB stadium with a retractable roof yet natural grass field. Designers here went full-bore on amenities, filling the gigantic venue with huge concourses, and even a swimming pool beyond the fence in right-center field that patrons can rent as a suite for up to 35 guests. Originally called Bank One Ballpark, enough light can enter the playing field from large windows to help with play even when the roof is closed to combat the highest major city temperatures in North America.
Question: What about the successful old franchises, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals?
Answer: These teams have won the most World Series in the American League and National League, respectively, and what they also have in common is their current stadium is the 3rd version with the same name. Of course the original Yankee Stadium was the “House that Ruth Built” opened in 1923 ~ and it went 50 years before the first significant changes occurred in 1973 and 1974 with a renovation.
The original Yankee Stadium was demolished in 2010, because what today is often called New Yankee Stadium was opened right next to it, in 2009. In St. Louis, Busch Stadium III opened in 2006, 40 years after its predecessor, another enclosed artificial turf stadium that in 1966 had replaced the original Busch Stadium ~ which had been called Sportsmen’s Park through 1952.
Q.: Which new MLB stadiums came after Chase Field?
A.: First, Safeco Field in Seattle, opened in 1999 and now called T-Mobile Park; followed by now-Oracle Park in San Francisco, which opened in 2000 as Pacific Bell Park. As the company was purchased and the mother corporation changed names, at times this beautiful stadium was known as SBC Park, or AT&T Park. Both new stadiums are considered among the best in Major League Baseball.