How Old Is That Ballpark?

Generally, the opening date of a ballpark is fairly clear-cut: a stadium is built and it opens. For instance, Citi Field in Flushing Meadow opened in 2009, along with its neighbor Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

However, with older ballparks, determining what date to use for their opening is sometimes problematic. A case in point is the prior Yankee Stadium. “The House That Ruth Built” clearly opened in April 1923, but the park was closed for two seasons (1974-75) while major renovations took place. When the park reopened in 1976, the debate began as to whether this was a new park or not. The exterior shell still stood, as did some of the inside ramps, but much of the facility was new. Old-timers who fondly remembered the old configuration usually said it was a different park starting in 1976, while others looked at the still-intact shell and continued to call it a 1923 ballpark.

The situation becomes clear as mud with some ballparks that are used for minor and independent league ball. Do you use the date at which the field was first used? That would lead to declaring that Labatt Memorial Park in London, Ont., opened in 1877, when the main seating bowl was completely rebuilt in 2001 and there is no structure on site that is older than the 1950s. Yet the park was rebuilt piecemeal (the bleachers are older than 2001, though they are surely younger than 1877). In those cases, it’s sometimes easier to default to the first use of the field rather than try to tag a single date on the facility.

This is mainly a problem in the lower minors, where in some cases there has never been a permanent stadium structure. Community Park in Burlington, Iowa, has never had anything more than bleachers. I don’t know when the current bleachers were installed. As a result, I’ve listed the park with its first use for professional ball, in 1947, even though it’s not a 1947 “stadium”.

On each ballpark’s individual page, I have tried to give multiple dates when I know of significant renovations that make the park seem newer. If a new stadium is built around an existing field, I will list the old facility (for instance, they have played ball at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass., since 1892, but the current stadium was built in 1950). On the list of Current Stadiums by League, I try to list the opening date of the current stadium, using the criterion that if significant members remain from an old stadium structure, it’s a renovation, while it’s a new stadium if no members were reused (or if only ceremonial or commemorative members remain). By that standard, the original Yankee Stadium was built in 1923 and used until 2008; but Isotopes Park in Albuquerque is a 2003 facility even though it was pitched to the voters as a “renovation”, as it’s a completely new stadium built around the old field.

The following table shows the average (arithmetic mean) and median opening dates of the ballparks that are active for the 2017 season, using the dates on the Current Stadiums by League page.

League Average Median
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL (30 parks) 1990.63 1999½
American League (15 parks) 1985.67 1992
National League (15 parks) 1995.6 2003
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL (159 parks) 1990.44 1996
TRIPLE-A (30 parks) 1996.8 1999
International League (14 parks) 1995.57 1997
Pacific Coast League (16 parks) 1997.88 2000
DOUBLE-A (30 parks) 1999.63 2001
Eastern League (12 parks) 1992.42 1994
Southern League (10 parks) 2004.7 2003½
Texas League (8 parks) 2004.13 2004½
CLASS A ADVANCED (29 parks) 1983.14 1991
California League (8 parks) 1978 1993½
Carolina League (10 parks) 1986.4 1992
Florida State League (11 parks) 1983.91 1990
CLASS A (30 parks) 1991.7 1998½
Midwest League (16 parks) 1987.06 1995½
South Atlantic League (14 parks) 1997 2000½
CLASS A SHORT SEASON (22 parks) 1988.64 1996½
New York-Penn League (14 parks) 1989.43 1998½
Northwest League (8 parks) 1987.25 1992
ROOKIE (18 parks) 1976.39 1981
Appalachian League (10 parks) 1971.6 1971½
Pioneer League (8 parks) 1982.38 2000½
INDEPENDENT LEAGUES (50 parks) 1990.66 1999½
American Association (12 parks) 1995.92 2002
Atlantic League (8 parks) 2003.13 2002½
Can-Am League (6 parks) 1978.67 1993½
Frontier League (12 parks) 1996.33 2002
Pecos League (12 parks) * 1964.17 1954½
ALL PROFESSIONAL LEAGUES (239 parks) 1990.51 1997
* No data included for 6 Pecos League parks.

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This page updated 30-Jan-2018