July 08, 2014
High definition television. Multiple 24-hour sports networks. No fee for parking. In our modern times, there are a lot of advantages to watching baseball games from the comfort of a living room. But no cable channel or fancy TV can replicate the smell of freshly-cut outfield grass or the camaraderie of the seventh-inning stretch. Even the hot dogs at the stadium somehow taste better.
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we love to help non-profits send their donors on once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities
through our charity auction travel packages
. Every summer, some of those travel packages involve getting great seats to any baseball game in the country – everything from a Wednesday afternoon “get-away game” with an early afternoon first pitch to the MLB All-Star Game (this year taking place at Target Field in Minneapolis).
Those experiences can differ wildly depending on the location, though. Where should a non-profit look to send a winning bidder? Major league baseball stadium experiences can be broken down into three categories, making them easy to pair with a gala theme or non-profit mission:
The Latest: Whether it’s the free wi-fi of the aforementioned Target Field or the more than 1,000 high-definition monitors at the new Yankee Stadium, some of the latest Major League Baseball stadiums feature technology previously unimaginable to fans. Some of them also act as curators of the sport’s history: Yankee Stadium has its own museum along with Monument Park, which features plaques dedicated to and uniform numbers of retired players, while Nationals Park has a “Ring of Honor” that bears the names of the franchise’s top players.
The Throwbacks: Maybe the best combination of retro ballpark design and modern conveniences can be found in the stadiums built in the 1990s, starting with Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. That ballpark, along with Coors Field in Denver (opened 1995) and Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas (opened 1996 as the home of the Texas Rangers) kicked off a trend in stadium design that takes the aesthetics of older stadiums – lots of brick and exposed steel – and updated the technology. Many of these parks also acted as catalysts for development in surrounding areas; Oriole Park helped revitalize the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore by drawing more people to the neighborhood, while Lower Downtown (LoDo, to the locals) in Denver is now one of the city’s hottest destinations.
The Classics: For those who want a connection to the history and heritage of America’s pastime, though, there are still two parks in operation that can transport a fan back in time. In Boston, Fenway Park is uncomfortable, cramped and still a must-see for the baseball aficionado. Everything from the walk to the Park from the T to the first glimpse of the Green Monster in left field feels like moments taken out of a movie. So well known and regarded is Fenway that it was granted a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, 100 years after its opening. In Chicago, meanwhile, Wrigley Field is two years younger but just as big a part of baseball’s fabric. Its ivy-covered walls and outside marquee may be the icons most closely associated with the entire city, while some of the best seats aren’t even in the stadium; rooftop viewing parties on neighboring buildings are as much a part of the stadium experience at Wrigley as hot dogs. Throw in the Chicago Cubs’ tradition of day games, and on summer afternoons in Chicago it can feel like the entire city is playing hooky.