It’s summer…so let’s go to the beach for this one. Pensacola, Florida absolutely nailed their new ballpark in 2012 as they took over the AA Carolina Mudcats. The ballpark in Zebulon, NC still retained baseball in the much more appropriate Carolina League, while Pensacola became an ideal spot for a relocated Southern League franchise. The beautifully nicknamed Blue Wahoos became the city’s team as they took up residence in a spectacular new park along the bayfront. It took awhile for a name to settle, but Pensacola Bayfront Stadium works quite well. The accolades have poured in and the ballpark is #2 in the most recent Stadium Journey MiLB Ballpark Rankings.
The first and most obvious thing to love about this ballpark is the location. Sitting in the stands and looking out at a beautifully manicured baseball field with a body of water beyond the fence and a pleasant ocean breeze is sublime. Though there is no nearby beach, the surrounding greenspace is wonderful and downtown is great for a walkthrough with plenty of places for a pre or post game stop. The architecture of the stadium is designed to reflect Pensacola’s unique buildings and though I’m not a huge fan of the seating bowl (see New Hampshire and Hillsboro for my disdain of this design), I can live with it given the other great features of the ballpark. Food options are impressive and fans continue to stream thru the gates. There are a lot of new parks that have opened across the Southern League and though the bar is set high, Pensacola really stands out as a place to check out.