MLB Stadium Tour – National League

Tuesday, 13th September 2011 by

With the regular season winding down and the postseason approaching, it is time to conclude our look at some of the more unusual features of MLB ballparks. We looked at the American League back in July, so now it's time for the National League, starting with Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona

While it is hidden by the retractable roof on the satellite view, the new 45-degree imagery reveals what I personally think is the strangest possible thing to have in a sports stadium - a swimming pool!

Granted it seems to be more like a large hot-tub than a swimming pool, but for $100 per person you and 34 of your friends can splash about (or more accurately, crowd together) in probably the most unusual spectator spot in all of sports. It must be great on hot days, though during the worst of Arizona's summer weather the retractable roof is closed and the massive air conditioning system is turned on.

While Phoenix's pool is currently unique in the major leagues, a second stadium pool will be available next year when the Florida Marlins move into the new Miami Ballpark1, seen under construction in Google's images.

However, in this new stadium the pool may not be the most bizarre aspect. There are plans to have two massive aquariums, totalling over 17m in length, behind home plate!

This new ballpark will give a total of four stadiums with retractable roofs in the National League. Another is in Houston, where thankfully the roof is shown open and we can see the grounds crew mowing the grass.

The Astros' ballpark is also built on the site of a former train station and is named for juice manufacturer Minute Maid. Tying these two facts together, a large model train - with a car full of oranges - runs along the stadium wall whenever a home run is scored and whenever the Astros win a game.

The final retractable roof is at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

While Google shows the roof open, we're unfortunately not able to see the slide used by the team mascot after each home run, so take a look at it in this YouTube video. Sponsored by a local theme park, this new slide is perhaps more friendly than the one at the team's old stadium where the mascot - who is still named Bernie Brewer - slid into a giant beer mug!

One of the more feature-laden parks in the National League is the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati2.

At the entrance to the stadium is a large limestone carving called The Spirit of Baseball.

On the north side of the stands is The Gap - an open section allowing views of the city's downtown. On the south side a pair of smokestacks commemorate the paddle steamboats which used to ply the Ohio River which runs beside the stadium3. Nearby is a Toyota truck on top of an elevator shaft. This can be won by a fan if a home run ball happens to hit a sign between the smokestacks, though I've not been able to discover if that has ever happened yet.

Google's new 45-degree imagery gives us great views of ballparks in some cities, including San Francisco, where certain rotations show the stands full and a game in progress!

Along the left-field wall we can see the 24m long Coke bottle, giant mitt and miniature ballpark that make up this stadium's family zone. And we can see kayakers in San Francisco Bay, hoping to be able to scoop up home run balls that occasionally leave the stadium!

Further south in California, the San Diego Padres play at Petco Field, where the notable feature is a century-old warehouse that was originally intended for demolition, but was restored and incorproated into the design. The Western Metal Building now houses team offices and luxury suites and the corner of the building is coloured yellow to act as the left field foul pole.

To the north of the stadium is "The Park at the Park" - accessible to the community for most of the year, and for which very cheap tickets are sold on game days.

Another stadium with a giant Coke bottle is Turner Field in Atlanta. It's too bad that we can't see the other huge advertising icon - a robotic cow (YouTube video) which does the 'tomahawk chop' motion used by the Braves' fans.

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates honour some of their most famous players with statues outside the stadium: Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Honus Wagner. A fourth, for Bill Mazeroski, has been added near the south-west corner of the stadium but the Street View car visited before it was constructed.

Google's satellite images caught the buzz of game day at a couple of stadiums:

In Philadelphia, at Citizens Bank Park, we find batting practice underway and the stands filling up while crowds of people head in to the stadium. Meanwhile, others are still in full tailgate mode in the busy parking lots.

Meanwhile in Washington it appears as though the game may be just getting underway with the stands partly full and lines of people still at the gates on the north side of the stadium.

Some notes about the other National League stadiums:

Coors Field in Denver has the highest elevation of any ballpark, with a row of seats near the top of the stands supposedly indicating the 'mile high' level - the nickname often used for this city. I think the row of purple seats can just about be made out in this image.

In New York, the Mets play at Citi Field and honour their home town with a 'Big Apple' which lights up for every home run.

The Chicago Cubs play at historic Wrigley field, where we see batting practice in progress.

In St Louis, the 45-degree imagery shows a lot of activity at Busch Stadium. However, the field is not setup for a game, and there are crowds of people around the perimeter and the dugouts, so it may have just been tour groups visiting, or an open house.

While in Los Angeles, we can see Dodger Stadium both with and without grass.

Every stadium can be explored in more detail in the appropriate team’s section on the MLB site, and Wikipedia has good information as well.

  1. Doubtless to be given a corporate name sponsorship before the start of the 2012. ↩︎

  2. Not a claim to be particularly patriotic, but sponsored by an insurance company. ↩︎

  3. There is also a replica paddle wheel outside the stadium. ↩︎