On to baseball for updates on The List and after the opening of Marlins Park last year, all is quiet this season on the ballpark front in the Majors. Seems to be a stalemate with Oakland and San Jose as the Giants are being big babies and not allowing the move, thus the A’s are stuck in a football stadium for now. In the affiliated minors, there is one ballpark opening and it is a good one. Birmingham opened Regions Field and with a downtown location and a forthcoming Negro Leagues museum, the place looks great. The Barons move from the suburbs as the Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover will still host that town’s high school football games. It also will continue to host the SEC Baseball Championship this season. Meanwhile, up in Northeast PA, after a year of playing on the road, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre baseball team is back home in Moosic. A huge renovation essentially re-did the ballpark and a re-branding of the team to the RailRiders makes the return to PNC Field. When I make return here, I’m not sure yet if this will count as a new stadium or a re-visit (sorry for all the “re’s”).
There were some notable name changes this year and the main one is a team name. Reading ridiculously changed their nickname to “Fighting Phils“. This is a team that plays in an old ballpark and should stick with tradition. I can’t stand the new moniker and accompanying team logo, which is based off their hot dog vendor. Elsewhere, we finally have a consistent name for Pensacola’s park that opened last year: Pensacola Bayfront Stadium. Ahhh, much better. In Jackson and Peoria, sponsors have dropped and a more generic stadium name is now being used, I’m guessing temporarily. Peoria was interesting, because I thought O’Brien Field was named for a person, but instead it was an Auto place sponsor. In the California League, one of the best ballpark names is sadly no more. The ballpark for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes is now LoanMart Field instead of The Epicenter. Man, that was a great name. Good news is that just 70 miles away over the San Gabriel Mountains, the opposite happened in Lancaster, where that ballpark lost it’s sponsor and is back to being known as The Hangar, in reference to the team and city’s aviation history.
Switching sports to soccer and the lower divisions, Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park was added to The List as a renovation brought the capacity to the stadium up to 10,000. It has always been a first-class place and I hope to visit at some point. Also, the New York Cosmos are back and they will play this season at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. This is a team that certainly has much bigger plans as they want the MLS and the MLS wants them. Plans are already in place for a proposed Queens stadium. Many of the teams in the NASL have aspirations for the big leagues and current teams FC Edmonton and Fort Lauderdale are looking into new stadiums. Pittsburgh has even moved into a small new pitch. The location and view is terrific, but I have no idea how they could have the room to expand that into an 18,000 seat stadium.