Four years into existence, Blue Wahoos Stadium continues receiving national acclaim.
The bayfront ballpark was ranked No. 2 by StadiumJourney.com among America’s 160 minor league baseball stadiums. It is the fourth time the publication has placed the stadium in its top five of the nation’s best minor league ballparks.
The ranking follows a season when the Blue Wahoos were voted “Best Seat In The House” in the MILB.com fan voting. The stadium has been cited in past years by BaseballParks.com and Ballpark Digest.com.
“Not only is this a ranking of the stadium, it’s a ranking of the whole Blue Wahoos experience,” said team president Jonathan Griffith. “What is comes down to is the top-notch customer service and affordable family fun that everyone involved with the Blue Wahoos, downtown Pensacola and the entire Pensacola metro community aspires to bring to our guests.”
In its review, StadiumJourney.com, which ranked the ballpark No. 1 in 2013, gave the stadium perfect scores (on a 1-5 scale) in four separate categories, including food and beverage, atmosphere and return on investment. It was hailed as a “gem sitting on the waters of the Gulf Coast.”
“Everything about the stadium screams that you should have a good time at a Blue Wahoos game,” StadiumJourney.com wrote in its review. “On a summer night with an ocean breeze, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting.”
The top-ranked minor league park was Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., a downtown ballpark with the cityscape as backdrop and home of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres’ Class A affiliate in the Midwest League. Parkview Field opened in 2009 and seats 8,100.
Six of the top 10 ranked ballparks were home stadiums for Triple-A affiliates, including AutoZone Park in Memphis (No. 6) and BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte (No. 7 ranked).
Those two stadiums, in particular, have seating capacities that are double the Blue Wahoos Stadium (5,038) and cost multiple times more money to build. AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis was constructed for $80.5 million and BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte was built for $54 million when it opened last year.
Pensacola’s stadium, which cost $17 million for stadium-only costs ($3 million paid by owner Quint Studer) along with Trustmark Park (Mississippi Braves) and Smokies Park (Tennessee Smokies) were the Southern League ballparks ranked among the Top 25 nationally.
The Blue Wahoos surpassed 1.25 million in franchise attendance this season. In each of their four seasons, they are the only team in the Southern League to draw 300,000 or more fans in each of these seasons. Their ballpark is the smallest in the Southern League (5,038 capacity) and the Pensacola market is the third smallest in the league.
Top 10 Minor League Ballparks
1) Parkview Field, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Fort Wayne TinCaps, Class A San Diego Padres).
2) Blue Wahoos Stadium (Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Double-A Cincinnati Reds).
3) Frontier Field, Rochester, N.Y. (Rochester Red Wings, Triple-A Minnesota Twins).
4) Raley Field, Sacramento, Calif. (Sacramento River Cats, Triple-A San Francisco Giants).
5) Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, N.C. (Durham Bulls, Triple-A Tampa Bay Rays).
6) AutoZone Park, Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A St. Louis Cardinals).
7) BB&T Ballpark, Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte Knights, Triple-A Chicago White Sox).
8) TicketReturn.com Field, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A Chicago Cubs).
9) Trustmark Park, Pearl, Miss. (Mississippi Braves, Double-A Atlanta Braves).
10) Huntington Park, Columbus, Ohio (Columbus Clippers, Triple-A Cleveland Indians).
— Ranked By StadiumJourney.Com