By Paul Forrester, SI.com (with additional reporting and writing by Andy Gray)
Part of the beauty of sport lies in its simplicity. Statistics usually are a clear indication of what player or team is better, at least at a particular moment in time. But what about the venues in which those numbers are produced? There are few precise statistics to measure if fans at Wrigley Field are getting the same return on their investment as the fans at PETCO Park.
SI.com decided to take a comprehensive survey of the experiences at each major league ballpark in order to determine where fans are getting the best bang for their buck. We sorted the information into seven categories and rated each park on a 1-10 scale, 10 being best.
The criteria we considered:
Average ticket price
Figures determined by Team Marketing Report's 2005 Fan Cost Index, which represents a weighted average of season ticket prices.
Average cost of concessions/souvenirs
The estimated amount a family of four would spend at a game. The total, based in part on Team Marketing Reports calculations, includes the prices of two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two adult-size adjustable caps.
How easy is it to get to the park? Do subways and buses provide quick, cheap service to the front door or is driving the only option? And if you drive, how difficult is it to find parking nearby?
The more, the better. A full complement of restrooms and concession stands means fans won't miss any game action because of long lines. This category also takes into account how well teams accommodate disabled fans with special seating and provide children with options to relieve excess energy (i.e. batting cages or playgrounds).
A measure of the vibe inside the ballpark, taking into account the knowledge of the fans as well as their interest in the happenings on the field.
Entertainment/dining options in the vicinity of the stadium.
The bottom line on the club's performance this year.
This was not merely an exercise to determine baseball's best stadium. Nor was it an attempt to evaluate the best experience in an absolute sense. The Fan Value Index is an effort to find which ballparks offer the best experience for the money.
(In cases of a tie, the team with the better record this season was awarded the higher overall ranking.)
Check out pull-down menu above or click on the links in the chart to read a profile of each park.